Welllllll….there was this one time…
You see, my grandmother, God rest her soul, loved a good yard sale. There were a few Saturday mornings when I would pick her up for the sole purpose of going yard-saling, then there were times we’d be on our way somewhere and she’d make me stop. “Oh, look at all the pretty things,” she’d say, and we’d pull in the respective driveway.
One particular morning, her neighbor across the street was having one such sale. It just so happened this neighbor was about my age which meant the possibility of finding things similar to my taste was high. I started to feel the adrenaline rush that is often fleeting at yard sales. Everywhere I looked, there was a chotschky I couldn’t live without. A desktop picture frame, bamboo placemats, the perfect sized skillet that I knew instinctively I needed, and my gosh that lamp would be perfect on my pub table! Get a Buggy!! She also had a whole close line full of cute clothes. I don’t typically look at merchandise in the form of apparel at a yard sale because first, it has a distinct, this-use-to-belong-to-someone-else, unpleasant kind of smell; second, I just can’t get comfortable with the thought of it because, three, it gives me the willies. I shiver thinking about it.
So as I am walking around with my arms full of treasures, I found myself fighting the urge to mosey over to the “clothes department” of the yard sale. “How bad could it be?” I asked. “This girl is young and hip like me. I bet she has name brand clothes that I would feel comfortable wearing in public. What’s the big deal? If I find something I like, I can take it home, wash it, and call it my own.”
So I went for it. She had Mardi Gras gowns, blue jeans, blouses that would go with the closet full of khaki pants I already owned. But I couldn’t do it. “That smell, my god that smell.” There’s no denying the smell of yard sale clothes and it was something even I couldn’t convince myself to get over. But she did have a few pair of cute shoes…in a size 8, which is unheard of even in a department store!
I looked around at the other yard sale patrons, hoping they wouldn’t notice as I slowly took off my shoe and gently slid my foot into the cutest black Mary Janes bearing a price tag of only $1.00. I sat there a minute and asked myself, “Can I actually do this? Remember, these shoes have been on the feet, The FEET, of a complete stranger. Am I sure I can actually do this?”
It didn’t help my grandma was egging me on with, “Oh, they are so cute, and they are only $1.00. You could wear them to work, or with jeans. You could wear them anywhere! And they’re only $1.00. You’ll regret it if you don’t by them because they look so cute on your foot.”
So I bought them. And a pair of sandals with a tiny heel that forced you to walk a little gingerly, even feminine if you will. I jumped back in the car with my grandmother, beaming with pride at all of the yard sale treasures I had just purchased. “You are going to get a lot of use out of those Mary Janes,” she reminded me. Yes I am, grandma. Yes I am. I was going to be the girl with the cute Mary Janes and I might even grow the balls to admit I bought them at a yard sale for only $1.00. (It’s a badge of honor to have someone compliment you on something you own, and you can return the compliment with, “Why thank you. Would you believe I only paid $X for it?”)
When I got home later that evening, I unloaded my used Wal-Mart bag full of goodies. I put my bamboo placements on my kitchen table, the desktop picture frame on my bookshelf – I’d choose the perfect picture for it later- and I put a new light bulb in my new lamp and placed it on the pub table. Just as I thought – perfection! I put the skillet under the cabinet and laughed at myself for even buying it. Hey, this might have been the missing piece that I needed to fuel the desire to cook. Now I’ll be ready*.
The shoes were at the bottom of the bag, rightly so since they were the last things I would remove. The sandals came out first. They were a pink, strappy number, with the thong that goes between the big toe and the second toe. Did I mention I am not a big fan of any shoe that requires me to put anything between my toes? I should have listened to my instincts when I reminded myself of this fact just hours earlier. Not to mention the thought of this same strap going between the toes of a complete stranger. You know there are some people that don’t scrub between their toes when they bathe and I was taking the chance this complete stranger was one of them. Had I lost my mind? In the garbage they went. After all, it was only $1.00.
On to the Mary Janes. My logic was such that I’d wear socks with these shoes and hopefully the previous owner had as well. And even if she hadn’t, I’d be wearing socks so that was still a small barrier between me and whatever the stranger had left behind. This logic went out the window just as fast as the shoes made their way to the closet. Maybe another day, but today is not one of those days. The sandals brought about quite the unneeded visual so the Mary Janes probably never had a chance. They remained in the back of my closet for months until just recently when a box of unwanted items made their way to the local Goodwill drop box. I’d like to think Mary Jane found her way into the home of a needy person, that didn’t have the luxury of being quite as squeamish. One could only hope.
*I’d later learn it wasn’t my need for the perfect skillet, but rather my lack of sharp knives, hindering me from having the desire to cook.