Selling one’s soul

September 12, 2008

This column was first published the other day on my other blog, but I found that the more I looked at it the more I liked how it was written (back patting noted) and wanted to share it with the people who don’t subscribe to both publications.

Let me know if you like the story and the style. And tell me if it should become a podcast column as well.


I’m surrounded by crap and I’ve decided to unload it on other people. The way we do that here in the United States is by putting up paper signs all over town, taking an ad out in the local paper, posting a note on Craigslist, and then spending the best part of a weekend sitting at card tables surrounded by this crap while people paw through it and toss coins at us.

I’m certain that if you did this sort of thing on a city street it would be called panhandling and you’d be arrested for it. But on the back roads of New England, people find these little sales quaint.

They used to be called ‘tag’ sales because the pricing method in the past was to tie little tags to each item with a price on it. Hence, price-tags.

Now we use stickers (or the absence of stickers) to garner what we want for our junk.

I’m prone to haggling. I think without tags people are either frozen and can’t buy anything OR they bid high and you leave with more money than you planned. Clownface feels differently. She says that her goal in the yard sale process is to rid herself of everything and if she makes any money, that’s a bonus.

One big problem is that I remember with glee and a sense of nostalgic economics, when and where I got something, the feelings that the item evoked, and pretty much what it cost.

I want to get a couple hundred bucks for each camera I’m selling this Saturday, but I’ll probably get about $15 each. That will pain me.

There are also some cassettes. It doesn’t matter that I can’t listen to them anymore or that I’m not inclined to digitize them and add them to my iTunes library. But it does matter that CF put a price of $3 on nearly 120 tapes. Thinking back, each one of those – even if it was a K-Mart bargain bin buy – went for more than $3. That’s a loss of about $357 just to save a little space.

I know I’m going to take a bath on the N64 system too. I hardly ever play it, but I put a ton of cash into the games and the accessories. Maybe I should list that separately and see what it will bring on the video game boards.

And then there are the dishes and multiple household implements that are now duplicates with CF’s recent migration to Hingham. Stuff I bought a year ago at IKEA is going for a song. So are the glass dishes I bought in 1984. Maybe some of the stuff on the chopping block should have been there a while ago.

Is letting go of belongings something only humans do? And then, is it something in which only a percentage of the population partakes?

Think of the havoc that’s wreaked when a building or home burns to the ground. The horror can’t be just that a dwelling is gone. It’s got to be partially the loss of belongings. But the prevailing wisdom says that people can’t be replaced and that stuff is just here to remind us of the people who can’t be replaced. So what’s with the long faces? Why the shrieks of despair?

In a move that anyone with half a brain should duplicate, I put my photos and music and essential files on a backup drive and then backed that backup drive up as well. Now I have no fewer than three copies of my important files and memories, and I’m still not calm.

I can’t wrap my head around the reasons for this separation anxiety, but that’s probably all it is.

The other day I was thrown off kilter when I found that the Ramen Noodles had been moved to a cabinet across the room. My sense of balance was offended and my world was tipped a few degrees sideways for a second.

Are some of us so uneasy with change that selling a mix tape from 1985 necessitates a psychologist referral? Don’t you think I could probably function productively without Perfect Dark, that fabulous futuristic game on N64?

You’re right. I’m probably too infantile to take to this new situation of a trimmed-down pile of stuff right away. But you’re also right if you think that I will adapt and the money earned by foisting my crap on other people will ease my pain a little.

C’mon by. And come on buy!

Keep reading!