Hell in a Hamburglar Glass

I had a garage sale a couple of weeks ago. I relish regularly purging my home of crap. However, I also think it is a special kind of hell to have to arrange crap artfully on card tables in the driveway, assign a value to each item of crap, and look at the neighbors with a straight face when one of them holds up a crappy McDonaldland-character glass tumbler and tries to whittle down the marked price of ten cents. C’mon, people. It still holds water, and we’re talking about the Hamburglar here.

So, okay. Maybe it actually isn’t hell. After all, it’s a beautiful, seventy-five-degree day spent out in your driveway. But it is purgatory. Because you can’t go anywhere else. All you can do is sit there on a lawn chair and stew in the lovingly hand-painted juices of your own tchotchkes.

I’ll tell you this. I hate figurines. I have never purchased a figurine for myself, but I have had them thrust upon me by people who claim to know and love me. Perhaps this hatred of ornamental figures stems from years of moving from apartment to apartment during my twenties, but I never collected stuff like that when I was a kid, either. Figurines have always made me feel big and clumsy, like King Kong with Fay Wray.

I remember a childhood pal, Shelly, who was abnormally fond of horse figurines. Fond as in boyfriend fond. Abnormal as in no one else could touch them but her! abnormal. These plastic replicas of real horses lived on her dresser in a specific formation, and woe be to anyone who dared draw so much as a pinkie finger across the glossy mane of the centrally positioned Clydesdale. If that happened, the usually sweet, retiring, Sunday-school-attending Shelly would screech, through bared, tinseled teeth, “GET OUT OF MY ROOM, YOU BUTTHOLE! THOSE ARE MINE!” And she would chase you out of her room, down the dangerously creaky, ankle-twistingly irregular staircase of her illegal attic bedroom, through the terrifying Lladro-ballerina-choked formal living room and out onto the religious-icon-ornamented front lawn. There she would grab fistfuls of your unattractive, gender-neutralizing bowl haircut and march you toward the legal property line of her yard, where she would throw you roughly to your knees on the sidewalk and explain that you and your dirty, oily, Ho Hos-icing-stained fingers were never, ever to cross that line again.

Not that this ever happened to me, dear readers, but this is what would happen if anybody ever dared touch one of stupid Smelly Shelly’s stupid plastic horses that lived on her stupid dresser in her stupid room in her stupid house.

Such is the dark power of collectibles, which is why I have made a concerted effort to keep my existence free from any item that requires its own display case or its own Certificate of Authenticity. I’m terrified enough by official documents.

I’m not sure where my dog’s breeding papers are right now. For all I know, his identity credentials may have been sold out of a van idling behind the mercado on Lake Street. Also unaccounted for are my marriage license and copies of my 2002 federal and state tax returns. There are autographed baseballs out there with a better paper trail than mine.

Do you get the feeling that the Certificate of Authenticity was dreamed up by people who feel the need for additional official documents in their lives? Are they expecting art historians to question the provenance of their Thomas Kinkade prints? Are they waiting for the moment they can whip out their certificate and say “Ha! Who dares question the validity of this painting of a lighthouse amid storm-splashed rocks?”

But the art historians could, of course, challenge the authenticity of the Certificate of Authenticity. And then there would be a war of “nuh-uhs” and “uh-huhs.” Feelings would be hurt, and there would be much emotional eating afterwards.

The woman haggling over the Hamburglar glass finally wore me down. I just gave it to her. Looking deeply satisfied, she greedily stuffed her treasure into her large pocketbook and sniffed, “For a single glass, it wasn’t worth much.” It would have been a totally different story if I’d had a set.