There’s an old saying that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince—which is what this Saturday’s excursion was like. For most of the morning I was afraid I would have to report that I found absolutely nothing to purchase on anyone’s driveway in all of Orange County. (Not that one can cover all of OC in a single expedition, but what would life be without a bit of hyperbole?) I kept driving, spotting signs, finding sales, greeting sellers, looking at stuff…and most of it was the most depressing collections of junk imaginable. The kind of sales that novices stop at, look around, and vow never to go to another yard sale for the rest of their lives.
But experienced thrifters know to keep kissing those frogs. I stopped at a sale that was pretty sparse, and when I walked up the seller broke off her conversation with her friend to tell me that all of the clothes were a dollar. I noticed a black leather jacket and picked it up; I've been wanting more leather for making Mary Janes and slippers. “Is this a dollar too?” I asked. She frowned a little. “Oh, that was really expensive…how about five?” I glanced down at the jacket in my hands. There were some spots of white on the black leather, possibly paint. I told her I was just looking for some leather to use for a project and offered two dollars. She nodded. “Sure,” she said, “that’s fine.” Then she added a line that still has me bemused: “I know what it is to want.”
I handed over the two dollars and left, pondering. What the heck did that mean? Did I look particularly needy? She didn’t seem to have taken offense at my low-ball offer, and I hadn't detected any hint of humor in her voice. Her house, car and clothing indicated that she is not currently in material need herself. Her remark will remain one of the many mysteries in life that I will never resolve.
But the story doesn’t end there. When I got home and toted my purchases inside, the jacket fell open, revealing the label. Ralph Lauren Polo.
Hmmm, I thought, pricey brand. I looked closer at the white smudges, grabbed a rag and damped a corner, and darned if all those smudges didn’t come right off.
Then I went to the computer and pulled up eBay, and what do you know. These puppies are selling like hotcakes, with prices ranging from $50 - $150, and cost about $600 new. So I might have to keep looking for some other leather for slipper soles.
Once that first purchase was made, more princely frogs appeared, and I managed to spend $8.25 before the morning was done.
I found a black velvet dress that I plan to cut up, because I have an idea for making this vintage coat I bought a few months ago fit me.
Keep your fingers crossed that my plan works. And if it doesn’t, well, the coat is not such a rare piece that experimenting would be vandalism. And it cost fifty cents.
Here is Noll making sure the velvet dress doesn’t fly away.
The same sale netted a DVD of Chicken Run and a bag of kitty litter.
The label on the bag says it's ten week’s worth, which would just about put it in the same category as the bowl in the fairy tale with the unending supply of food. But even if it lasts only a week, it was a good deal—and it's all natural!
In another tract I pulled up in front of two side-by-side sales. “I know you,” said the complete stranger at the one on the right. Turns out he didn’t actually recognize me at all, but rather my car. He used to work at the dealership where we bought it almost seven years ago. They had to look all over Southern California for one with a black top rather than the brown all the others had, so I guess mine is a bit different. We agreed on what a great car it is.
The last thing I bought was a visor, which I wear in said car to keep the sun out of my eyes. (Definitely not to play golf!)
At this sale I encountered the papier mache artist I often see on Saturday mornings with her mother, who never gets out of the car. (The mother says I look exactly like her friend Alice, so I suggested she could call me Not-Alice.) I went over to the car to chat. “I'm having one of those days,” the mother told me. “I've lost my keys. I always put them right here in my purse and they’re not there. Doesn’t that just drive you crazy?” I agreed that I have absolutely no memory any more, but that I've decided just to embrace my geezerhood. And it's probably a good thing, having no memory to speak of. If I retain anything, it's the princes I've found, and I manage to forget all the frogs I had to kiss along the way.