I collect stuff with lips (it’s a Warhol/Rolling Stones thing) and lions (I’m a Leo). I’ve also got a hefty load of ’70s swag (clothes and furniture), plus, uh, purple stuff. Yeah, I said purple stuff . . . as in anything purple: plastic boxes and doodads, fluffy faux fur and fabric, basically useless junk that I always thought I’d need some day, like when I got that big house with a craft room.
Alas, I’m all about the here and now these days, and my current place is too small, especially with a baby on the way. So it was time to ask myself some serious questions about the crap I had accumulated. It was time for a yard sale.
Scouring through my stuff, much of it dusty and unfamiliar, since it’d been tucked away so long I’d forgotten it, I was happy to see a lot of it: past Halloween costumes that might make a comeback, journals from my wild 20-something years (a book someday?) and stuff I’d like to pass on to my daughter (my doll collection, featuring Cher, Charlie’s Angels and the very glam Superstar Barbie, complete with boa and diamond jewelry). But out on the lawn went half of my lion collection (including lots o’ Lion King items . . . that film was huge for me when it came out), any duplicates of Rolling Stones items (there were a lot), and clothes that I haven’t worn in two years (the one-year/six-month rule really isn’t applicable to us pregnant gals).
You’d think it’d be painful to part with stuff I’ve been holding on to for so long, but as waves of Latino families, trendy teenyboppers and old ladies plowed through my life’s accumulation, I felt lighter and lighter. Clothes that I had long ago rejected, gotten sick of or regretted ever purchasing were now going to gals who totally appreciated each piece (even if they paid $2, and I paid $20 and sometimes $80). Toddlers carried away my fuzzy, well-preserved stuffed animals and toys, old men walked away with piles of books I planned to read but never did, and at the end of the day, one lucky fella got a giant box of CDs (some of them actually good) for $5. Okay, they were Amoeba rejects, but still.
There were a few overzealous bargainers who got on my nerves. My friend Michelle had a load of pricey jeans (Frankie B., Seven, etc.) that she was practically giving away at $5 each, and some people actually had the nerve to ask, “One dollar?” She promptly snagged them out of their arms and said, “Forget it.” She’d try her luck at a resale store like Buffalo Exchange instead. The same thing happened between me and an old bat over a mint-condition purse from the 1960s. I wanted $8; she wanted to pay a buck. It came back home with me, and I’m sure I will get at least $20 for it on eBay.
But my toughest sale of the day was also the strangest — my once-beloved Ronald McDonald cloth doll.
I carried that damn thing everywhere as a kid, and I loved it. I’ll never forget the day I got it either. I was to meet the “real” Ronald McDonald at a Glendale Micky D’s after begging my mom to take me, but when I got there and actually saw him in all his garish, red-and-yellow glory, I was terrified. I started crying and hiding. But the persistent clown was determined to make me like him. Despite a long line of kiddies who wanted to meet him, he focused on me, talking slowly and patiently as my tiny, teary face peered through my mother’s knees. (In retrospect, I think the dude had a crush on my hot mom.) Anyway, I really liked him after that, and cherished the doll he gave me in his likeness. I later got the Hamburglar too, even though he was supposed to be a bad guy.
Both were dingy and tattered when I found them at the bottom of an old box. They’d seen years of tears and joyful moments, though their later days were spent in garage exile as I went on to prettier baby dolls and plusher, cuter stuffed animals. I thought about keeping ’em, but Hamburglar’s head was water-damaged, and Ronnie was downright brownish and a bit stale-smelling. Still, I knew he’d sell, and sure enough, some guy, French I think, wanted him.
A brutal bargaining bout ensued. I asked for $10; he offered $5. I offered to give him the Hamburglar too (really, I didn’t want to separate them) if he’d just gimme the 10-spot, but the guy wasn’t having Hammy’s shredded head.
“Six dollars,” the Frenchman said, adding that Ron Don wasn’t in the best condition himself.
“Eight,” I countered, telling him about my past with the Ronald. We had a deal.
By day’s end, I made about 200 bucks and was able to pack all the unwanted stuff into three boxes. My place is still pretty crowded — I could definitely use another purge session, though sitting in the sun all day ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. I’ll probably just go straight to Out of the Closet, where the remaining stuff from our yard sale is now available. By the way, if you happen to be thrift shopping and see Hamburglar, give him a kiss for me, will ya?
Excerpted from the Style Council blog at www.laweekly.com.