Honestly, shouldn’t there be a warning on addictive substances? “The Surgeon General has determined that auctions may be hazardous to your health,” (and your marriage, not to mention available floor space). There really ought to be a law.
So many auctions. For years I struggled with a terrible addiction. Every weekend found me prowling the tri-state region, Auction Guide in hand. Planning how we could best optimize our Saturday and in what order we should hit which auction.
I knew that “Misc. household, too much to mention!” could be the answer to my dreams. At least my dreams of owning six mismatched, short-legged kitchen chairs (snapped up for only a buck mind you!).
That would nicely complement a vintage tablecloth, only slightly tattered, but if you hang that side toward the wall it hardly shows at all.
The boxes of broken tools. The painted furnishings I dragged home and lovingly restored. Spending only slightly over three times what the piece was worth in stripper, sand paper, and trips to the ER.
We can chart the rise from our “salad days” to the eminently more spendy “crouton days”, wherein we sometimes paid well into the double digits for our home furnishings at auction.
To this day I cherish my $3 armchair. Although I’m not sure I didn’t get rooked on that $10 end table next to it.
Flashbacks. Sometimes our addictions offer ugly flashbacks. I have attended auctions where I swore that in the heat of the bid the auctioneer could’ve begun selling off an old soda can stuffed with dirt – and gotten a pretty good price for it, too (if my husband hadn’t caught me in time).
I have bid against my own spouse (and you better believe I whipped him good!) and carried home the spoils – a 100-year-old oak wheelchair. Handy if we should ever have the desire to re-enact the stairway scene from Whatever happened to Baby Jane?. Otherwise, just kind of creepy.
I thought I had the auction monkey off my back. For years the house itself had schemed, without pause, to absorb all our time and money.
Nice plan really, as we finally broke free of our auction addiction, (following a brief flirtation with garage sales, which don’t hone nearly the competitive edge).
Relapse. Recently, however, I was senselessly lured to an auction by a friend who had fallen under the influence of the Auction Guide. I know I should have performed an intervention but it seemed harmless enough. How much trouble can a person get into at an auction of a grade school?
I mean, do I really need a mixer that will mash 400 potatoes? Six dozen paint smocks? A toilet no taller than my shins? I’ll just stand around and watch. Well, OK, maybe I’ll go ahead and register. What can it hurt? I can control myself right?
OK, OK, so I’ll bid just this once and then that is it, I swear. I can stop anytime. Oh sweet thrill of victory! Now … let’s see, I’ll just have to buy six more. I’ve gotta have a set!
It’s all a blur. But I now have a gorgeous oak table that could comfortably seat eight at parties. Presuming all my guests are under 40 inches tall. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to snatch up the teeny tiny little chairs to go with it. Just in case.
Unique items. For an intrepid auction addict, it’s about having a truly unique item at the ready. You just can’t buy that piece of mind mass-market retail these days.
Be it a circa 1946 martini shaker (despite the fact that we don’t drink), a framed marriage license for people you don’t know, or an incomplete set of juice glasses featuring a dancing tomato in a top hat. And isn’t that a bargain at twice the price? You bet it is!
And if you see that, I’ll raise you a dollar, and cut you a great deal on a true vintage, one-of-a-kind, not to be missed wheelchair.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt hides the Auction Guide from herself as soon as it arrives. She welcomes comments (and auction tips) c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)