Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery

So Of Course It's Already Turning Into A Story

An estate sale is practically a fiction writing exercise: here's an inventory of possessions--now extrapolate a character from them. The home of the departed, where all of his belongings are displayed by category rather than placed for use, becomes an intensely alienating setting. How many alarm clocks? How many lamps? Preoccupations that might otherwise have been invisible are suddenly visible.

It wasn't just hoarding; it was a small collection of particular obsessions, all of them inscrutable. None of the obsessions looked like they'd been much fun.

Estate sales bring out pros and cons--by which I mean antique dealers and thieves, and it's not always clear that there's a distinction. It's a wonderful sort of setting for revealing megalomania and desperation in any character you might want to send out shopping. It's also a fine setting for revealing good social bonds among the characters running the sale. I suppose it could be good for straining the characters' bonds, too, but we did all right at twoeleven's father's house, and my folks showed up to bring plastic bags and coffee and bagels.

It was a strenuous weekend, but kind of exhilarating. Well, I thought it was exhilarating, but I'm an extrovert. I hope twoeleven and the uberblonde are recovering okay.

Not for the first time, I was glad to have learned my haggling skills in Seoul. The shopkeepers of Itaewon always got the better of me, and probably still would if I went back, but it was good to have the memory of those Itaewon shopkeepers to imitate when the antique dealers tried to bully me into cutting prices in the first hour of the sale. The first hour of the sale was pure madness, and there were hardcore bargain hunters lined up, quite literally, around the block. No, that's not where the decimal place goes, and here's the appraiser's documentation to explain why, bucko. You can get the same thing for a dollar at other estate sales any weekend of the year? By all means, then, depart for one. You want to knock five dollars off the lamp? Well, I tell you what, you come back after noon, and if the lamp's still here, we can talk about that five dollar difference, but if you want to be sure of going home with the lamp, you can pay the price as marked before the rest of your fellow vultures get at it.

In the last hour of the day, the object of the game shifted. In that hour, the point was to empty the house to the greatest extent possible, and in the effort to follow those instructions, I found myself selling Corningware saucepans still in their original packaging for a dollar, and faithful old power tools for twenty five cents.

Did we win the game? It's hard to tell. Poor twoeleven is still stuck with one of these. On the other hand, the superfluity of lamps, alarm clocks, televisions, and microwaves is much diminished.

And now I have the opening scene of a new Rugosa Coven story. I'm supposed to be working on the Beltresin prequel, yes, but this is going to be so good! Oh, well. As matociquala sometimes laments, any work but the work we should be doing.
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