The Best Antique I Ever Found
How I Found It.
“TWO HOURS” was... a long time... for me to piss around waiting on the salesperson so I dropped him off at his store saying “I’LL BE BACK DON’T WORRY” but he was worried and tried to do this convoluted explaining thing that I didn’t quite understand but to the effect that “they” rented that bay and “could put a car in it” but had “no car” so it was empty and suppose to BE empty except for a “CAR” so that the cannon, which was evidently that man’s, was NOT allowed to be in there but had appeared there and so became the property of the salesperson HE SAID and that NOW when we went back it would still be there and be HIS and I could buy it because “HOW ARE THEY GONNA MOVE IT? THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE A CAR”.
I could see, especially as I drove off alone, that this deal… was not going to “be successful” regardless of the overt assurances of my salesperson. That old cannon weren’t gonna be mine in “two hours”. NONE the less, I planned to go back and, after affirming to myself that I was TOO enraged to “go back to the apartment” and “wait”, I reconfigured my drive to loop up into the Greenacres section of Scarsdale and, as I say, “do the trash”.
It’s not that it was “trash day”, the scheduled day for trash pickup, but it WAS early enough in the spring for a homeowner to get the “let’s clean that out” itch so, at ANY moment, the contents of, for example, their now forty-five year and longer old married with THREE grown kids “son’s” “ROOM” could be... PUT OUT ON THE SIDE OF THE STREET “for the trash”. To “loop” Greenacres was easy for not only is it a dense upper, UPPER middle class suburb of residential homes peacefully situated on shady side streets but “the itch” always was happening (in one way or another) up there, all the time.
It took two intersections, two side streets and two HOMES before I… released a lot the tension over the cannon transaction by jumping OUT of the truck (EMPTY GMC SUBURBAN) with my extra keys out (to open the back), work gloves “on” and my regular outfit “on”. That last; consisting of shorts, tee shirt and sneakers… to the lay viewer who is usually at their living room window or UPSTAIRS BEDROOM window “watching me” as I “work” their “pile”… appears that I’m, perhaps, on the way home from my “fitness center” or such after a “serious workout” and “just happened to stop” because I “saw something” “?”.
That usually covers ANY action I take on their pile unless they have a REAL lot and I have to do something like make TWO trips or “load the roof” or BOTH and MORE. But; HELL, what do they care: IT’S TRASH.
And most don’t so I ALREADY had a nifty little pine bench that was a “quick twenty-five” (dollars) and some “clean pine” boards and some “Fuck it: TAKE it” and “look at it later” in a cardboard box (I can always throw it out AGAIN, right?).
So that was OK until I got to this one house that, of late, had a perpetual assemblage appearing that clearly indicated to my ...trained eye... that “they” “were cleaning out” the “whole basement” of what was in fact a “giant house”. Each week a new terminal moraine of “stuff” appeared out in front of the home just off the head of the driveway and concealed from direct view (“THANK YOU”) of the windows of the MAIN HOUSE by the ancient (and large) Rhododendron bushes. I’d also observed, for it’s is unusual for the neighborhood, an ever more defined and well trodden footpath across the front yard to this roadside destination... unknowingly created by EASY ACCESS from, apparently, “the basement door” on the far side of the home. “Huh.” was my verbal appraisal of this trash to treasure repository and I was, of late, always there, without any ABSOLUTE PLAN, “around six” so, ah.... things... were “pretty dead”. NOT TODAY! I was running late.
I pulled over so to be parked going the wrong way in front of the pile and was out and already “acquired” some, “lumber” (old boards) AND an old bookcase that had passed from domestic prominence into the “domestic neglect” inclusive of “store THAT there” streaks and circles from household paint and varnish cans upon it’s once fine finished (but STILL finished “good enough”) shelves of “mixed hardwood” AND Chippendale STYLE bracket base... : THAT was “in the back” already and I’d sidestepped into the Rhododendron to the rear of the pile and was focusing my attention down into an over turned box of “stuff” which had not been overturned by ME but by someone else who had got there “earlier”. THAT is very usual so is “a nothing” inclusive of ‘em leaving things like the bookcase cause, since THEY (competitive trash pickers) are “professionals” and “know a piece of shit when they see one” so they won’t or... CAN’T (cause they cannot “fit it”) “TAKE IT”. Not seeing much “in there” I hovered but a moment but a moment TOO LONG for a voice from the far side footpath enunciated “THERE YOU ARE!”
“Fuck” said my mind and I DID NOT look up “fast”, but in a sort “What? Huh?” style I’ve... PERFECTED to BEGIN defense of my exposed position and the forthcoming discourse between the often “upset”, “enraged”, “pissed off” OR least often, charming and delighted ...homeowner. I also knew that I was “a long way” from the driver’s seat of the idling Suburban and even though I could jump over the mound to the door a mere five feet away, that was “going to be a bitch”. FURTHER, I was “caught” before an overturned box and that is usually the PRIMARY reason for a bad beginning of intercourse with a homeowner because they assume you “did it”; dumped it on the ground so are all pissy and want you to “clean it up” “NOW”. Therefore, my blunt mental wording was QUICKLY expanded past all these PARAGRAPHS of instruction and I rose my face just with the “What? Huh?” care aforementioned so that it “took in” as much as possible BEFORE it “hit” the source of the voice’s eyes.
My eyes took in. The form; a male over the age of seventy that was ...dragging... a full sheet of 3/4 inch exterior plywood that had, instantaneously and obviously to my eye, been “stored” in the home for the past twenty or thirty years after being “bought” “for something” and, well, “never used” except to have been THOUGHTLESSLY used as a bare base to spay paint something primer gray then ... “fire engine red” enamel at about the half way point of it’s “period of storage”. “Huh” said my mind which actually meant “I CAN USE THAT”, “THANK YOU FOR BUYING THAT AND STORING IT FOR ALL THESE YEARS FOR ME”, “IT’S STILL GOOD”, “IT’S NEW”, “FUCKING ASSHOLE SPRAY PAINTED SOMETHING ON IT”, “THAT’S OK CAUSE HE PAID FOR IT” and, of course, the possessive “GIMMIE THAT”. This final is a poise and was enhanced with a mental evaluation that my load was “still not high enough” so that I could still “just slide that in” on top. Then, of course, I added in the mental side comments of “IT’S DRY” with “IT’S GONNA RAIN TODAY”. Huff & puff the old gent kept coming around the Rhododendrons.
He was dressed in what I suppose were his “work clothes” but let’s not get into a who spends what to wear what when they drag “TRASH” out of their basement in Scarsdale (N.Y.) for why bother other then to say that it is STILL a fashion statement from a credit card account when compared to my always carefully selected “wear appropriate clothing” developmental skill. I eyed him. He was eyeing me.
“I’ve seen you out here and I said THERE he is!” he said to me holding the plywood at a 45 degree angle with most of it trailing off behind him inclusive of a new and vary obvious one inch deep mud line shadowing the foot trail across the yard (“Don’t worry, the landscaper will fix it.”).
“You throwing that out?” I said. That’s such an important utterance that I’ll elaborate a little on it. See: I got him even though he got ME. I mean; HE’S got me so that IF we are gonna have a …negative… discourse, over what I’m up to WHICH IS PERFECTLY OBVIOUS, then, well, it is better for ME to drive at HIM instead of him trying to lay some moral guilt trip on me like that, in so many shortened words, I’m some sort of garbage picking good for nothing scum of the EARTH. I mean FUCK: I already KNOW THAT. AND SO DOES HE. So WE can skip that and get to the “GET OUT OF HERE!” REDISTRIBUTION of HIS “wealth” (trash) or... maybe HE ought to just roll over like a porcupine and expose the tender white flesh of his under belly to me so to do THAT means I… give a little verbal boot to “flip ‘him” and one does that by coming right down to the obvious business of, in this case “YOUR THROWING OUT AN OBVIOUSLY GOOD PIECE OF PLYWOOD THAT WOULD COST ME AND DID COST YOU (You dumb ass: What did you buy that for anyway?) AND I’m going THROUGH YOUR TRASH WITH AN EMPTY CAR SO GIVE ME THAT. NOW”.
That worked for he said “You want it?”
“Yeah, great” meaning “DAMN GREAT” and also that he weren’t gonna tell me to “get out” and (OR) “get a job”, go to church, get a haircut, fuck myself or, well any of the other moral superlatives that are dished down my gullet EVERYDAY. “Here. I’ll get it” I said and did the ole quick step out of the Rhododendrons and took ah hold of the sheet before he could collapse on me AND knew what had hit him. AND I had it “airborne”; (raised up above my head) and headed for the rear ROADSIDE side of the ‘burban (for “out there” on the road side, it’s “out of sight - out of mind”). ANYWAY: I did not put it in... “immediately” for, ah, prospects were “look’en good” and I’s ah self managed enough to know that AND that he weren’t gonna chuck me off his pile so to “waste time” shoving that sheet in just to have to unload it (?) weren’t the way to go.
“MAINE.” He says as I sat the sheet down. I’d crossed from him and his trail out in front of the ‘burban and therefore he’d had a clear view of my license plate when I passed by.
“MAINE I BE!” I said back toward him as I rested the plywood against the ‘burban.
His head turned toward the plate and then back to me. “But I see you out here nearly every week. You don’t...”
“YES I DO!” I said cutting him off for NOW the vast terra incognito of human relations was about to take a turn across VERY familiar land to me and... I’s ah ain’t ah gonna WAIT for some seventy year old DUFF to LEAD me across it. HERE, therefore, I give the reader THE twist and turn of this what I call “THE MAINE DANCE” this ONCE and here after will leave off of repeating it for it is, in its ever slightly altered motions and vocabulary... ALWAYS crossing the SAME land so as to have formed a VERY well known path... and WE’S ah don’t have to REPEAT the trail over & over but simply will say “we did the Maine dance” and then return to business.
The Maine dance is; dutifully reported as taking place in THIS particular incidence:
“I come down here every week. From Maine.” I said. The man looked at me. “That’s right.” I continued. “I’ve being hit’en YOUR trash every week since you started this clean out or what ever it is your doing”. He continued to look at me.
Then he says “Where do you live in Maine?”
“And you really come down EVERY week?”
“Well. MOST every week. Depends on the weather. And some other stuff. You know: You can never tell WHAT will happen in what I do”.
“This is what you do? Go through trash and take things.”
“Pretty much. I buy stuff. Too. But. Well. Down here; where you are; things are different from in Maine”.
“Where’s West Bath? Is that near Bath? I’ve been there. Once. A long time ago”.
“Yep. We have a farm outside of Bath. That’s what West Bath is; well, WAS: Rural. Now it’s get’en built up. You know: Suburban.”
“That’s on the coast.”
“Right. Twenty minutes from L.L. Bean.”
“I know where THAT is.”
“Everybody know where that is.”
“Huh. So... You really come down here every week.”
“Much as I can.”
“And you just load up with what you find on the trash?”
“Yep. Takes about, well, six... eight hours to fill the car. Then I leave.”
“With just what you find.”
“Well. I buy too. Quite ah bit. You know: What ever. People down HERE have a lot. Now Maine. See: It’s different. Maine’s ah poor state. And not that literate. So. Down here. WELL. This is one of the most affluent and literate areas of the whole world. I mean. It may not seem so to YOU but, well... . You come up to Maine and poke around some; you’ll see.
“No. I know what your saying. I’ve been up there. But. You can really find THAT much”
“Well. It’s not a ‘that much’ kind ah thing.” I said and moved back along the side to stand off of the front of the ‘burban. I know when I’m OK with someone and we were on that firm ground so pretty much what I do next is to go for the getting inside ANY part of the, ah, main house. There’s a sort of, ah, Trojan Horse AND skulking Indian outside of Fort Apache skill to this that, ah, after you’s ah done it ten thousand times is pretty cool to watch ‘cause it’s sort-ta like your standing there but watch’en yourself from above try to, what I’d call, ah... “pull it off”. So I know how to walk back to the guy and, you know; show the flag sort of; let ’im eyeball me all to Hell & gone and then, you know, sort ah DRIFT toward his, ah: WHAT I KNOW is that he’s KNOWS he’s ah got MORE in there. See: I know, HE KNOWS and, well, that shit IS just sitting in there; in the main house. So then I cut back into him verbally:
“Some things I can use. Some things I can SELL. So. Well. A lot of people in Maine are pretty shrewd. And; what you’d call frugal. NOT that YOU ALL ain’t down here. But I mean. Well. I don’t have to go around here much before it’s pretty obvious you all have a real lot more”.
“Oh I know what your saying. Don’t... I mean. I’ve seen you OUT here before. And so that’s what your doing. I seen OTHERS out here. But you. Well. I don’t know but what I. WELL. The last time I seen you take all those DRAWERS. Now what did you do with THOSE.”
“Yep. I got an old: HE’S retired: He makes up furniture. In his shed. You know: Get away from the wife. So; to him; MAKING a drawer’s ah bitch. So I get ‘em for him”.
“He buys ‘em?”
“Well, yeah, you know: Sort ah. I ain’t gonna, you know, RETIRE on ‘im.”
“And HE sells the furniture he makes?”
“Right. We all got our little stores and all. And we have a FARM; you know: I got five buildings. And they’re all full. I’ve been doing this all my life. I started in junior high”. They always like that; the junior high thing. It’s true but, what’s better, is the way it twists it all in their heads. See up to right here, in the AVERAGE person’s head, their pretty much going that HERE’S a JUNK MAN.... FROM MAINE... going through MY TRASH to SELL IN MAINE and well, suddenly it’s clear that THIS is REALLY what I do because I REALLY have been doing it ALL my life and, in most cases, this IS the first time they’ve EVER gone to one on one with a REAL junk man, especially one from MAINE.
“So you SELL all of this; back in MAINE.”
“Right. We sell it all. We sell the junk. We sell the good stuff. We sell the books. You know: You sell just about anything after a while. It’s sort of; a lot anyway, just a big ole recycling business. I mean: This is the United States. We got the MOST and the BEST stuff in the whole world. Ever. AND it’s all HERE. You know: Not been trashed and all. You KNOW: No one’s ever driven a TANK down this street and blasted the CRAP out of your house.” I say gesturing toward the home. Jesus have I ever used THAT friggen line over & over. And you get noth’en BUT nods of knowing FROM that line because ANYONE that is what Marx called a “HAVE” as opposed to a “HAVE NOT” knows that, well, we fuck’en HAVE in this country. Course, you know, AND as we will get too... I work with a lot of the “HAVE NOT” and they have a different spin on this. But HERE, within the MAINE DANCE, we see normal deployment and response to this gospel according to ME that, damn, EVEN if you started POUNDING your use of this line NOW till your END, you would never even get close to the number of times I’ve ah floated that out on the water for a... FISH to bite.
So we go along some MORE but, as I believe the reader can see: We are getting closer to the DOOR. In fact... I really don’t have to do much now but what a golfer calls “putt in”. I do this next.
“You got anything you want to sell today?” With that utterance I pull out a wad of money (a real wad too; mostly singles and NO twenty’s) (That’s cause you’s ah don’t want ‘em to think, you know, BIG MONEY) out of my front pocket and hold it out for ‘em to see just like my GRANDMOTHER taught me to do and sure enough ANY AVERAGE person can “see green” “no problem” so... OFF WE GO?
Damn straight. In most cases. But here at I had to do a tad more; nothing major, but just a push and this is what I call “THE MAINE SEA FARING TRADITION DANCE” and here after, should we NEED it again, referred to as “THE SEA FARING DANCE”. And BEFORE I elaborate I mention a “JESUS have I ever deployed THIS friggen saga over & over so don’t think YOU’S AH can RIP ME OFF clean on it.
I had to deploy it because to old duff just didn’t turn around and start walking back to the hole in the bottom of his home with me at his heals WHILE mentioning he was gonna sell me anything I wanted for preferably NOTHING right away. So I give ‘im that sea faring dance because he says to me “Well I was just CLEANING OUT the basement. But we MAY be selling the place.” Well; I know what this means because I do this one all the time. What it means it, greatly foreshortened: “WE, the wife and I, are ...getting older.. and live all alone in this friggen giant shit box (my words for what they call “HOUSE”) that we paid nothing for and now costs a friggen fortune to maintain but is also worth a friggen fortune so’s if we sell it, even AFTER taxes we’s ah done good and the kids ain’t ever gonna live here and we’s been talking about a place in, like, North Carolina, or, all to often, ‘living in’ their ‘summer place’ in, like, VERMONT or even... MAINE... but that’s actually gonna last like... TWO winters before it’s the North Carolina again and they can go on with THIS DANCE of their own for quite while telling me about grandchildren and retarded grandchildren and rectal cancer and even moving to, like, MEXICO so either they cut themselves up short on a full disclosure of the bare fact that the home is full of shit they don’t use OR want anymore and, ah, I’s the first (?) JUNK MAN to make an appearance OR they start to drift to this full disclosure and I have to cut ‘em off because, BELIEVE IT OR NOT I am still digitally aware of the MINUTES ticking away on the friggen “GO BACK IN TWO HOURS (even though it’s hopeless) cannon deal so...:
“WHAT I do really isn’t anything NEW to US in MAINE. SEE: MAINE has a GRAND sea faring tradition. NOW you know what this is. SEE: I’m like an old sea captain and THAT’S my boat!” I say gesturing to the ‘burban. Well: I get in my boat and SAIL AWAY from my wife & daughter up on our FARM in Maine. And I sail down here to what is in fact an EXOTIC PORT. JUST like Maine sea captains have done FOR EVER. And down here at the exotic port I fill up my ship with all kinds of exotic TRADE GOODS. Then I sail back to Maine and sell ‘em. JUST like THAT. And what I’m doing is what Maine men; COASTERS they call ‘em, have been doing for centuries. ‘Cept NOW I drive the ‘burban, which, as MAINE cars go IS a BIG ship. AND I travel at seventy on the Interstate. SO: You got any exotic trade goods you want ta SELL ME?” And, as I HAVE NOT put the money away, I display it again. And, course, that’s works ‘cause to ole duff is off mentally somewhere between a MAINE pine tree, a Clipper Ship, TREASURE ISLAND, L.L. BEAN boots, canoes, lobsters, pirates, AND his friggen basement full of “shit” that’s “in his way”.
And he looks at me.
And I tap in: “See. I ain’t doing ANYTHING that has not been done for CENTURIES”. Well what’s he gonna say? That he DON’T have a basement full of SHIT and that this is the LAST time he’s ever gonna have to put it out? And that I WON’T be back here NEXT WEEK? AND I ain’t “from Maine” so that even the friggen old bitchy wife would be “interested” in “that”. AND of course he’s got to verbally come back to my oration so the “I gotta ‘nother piece of that plywood if you want it. Come. It’s smaller.” comes as... no surprise. Does it.
“Sure I do!” I say and...: There we go! Together, hand in hand, down the little trail to the basement door. But don’t say I didn’t have to do “noth’en” to “get in there”. Fuck you: YOU try it sometime. See how YOU do; stammer’en away and ask’em for WHAT? Something “good”?
Off around the Rhododendrons and along the now furrowed trail which the old duff NOW sees and realizes that “the landscaper will fix it” AND that HIS Mr. Wallet is taking a little pop on that so... that to have me “airborne” the other piece probably ain’t such a bad idea... . And the basement door which actually an old two door Tudor style garage door with only one open and being very evident that this ain’t used as a garage no more because today’s cars won’t “fit” “easily” through the opening (and this actually means that they DID use it until “the wife” scraped down the whole passenger’s side of a new car in, like, 1975 so “ever since” they’s ah “parked outside”. Which in this case they did for two contemporary autos filled the beautifully maintain, Rhododendron lined driveway before the open door. In we went.
MY eyes was gathering data faster then a home computer and my scan indicated “full”, “in neglect” STUFF “everywhere”. “HUH” said my mind. “YOU’S got A LOT!” said my voice.
“OH NO. I’m not throwing ALL this out.” He says. Really. Whoa... .
“Oh I know THAT.” I say and we CONTINUED into the car bay to a side doorway and INTO that little room. THAT’S a good sign for... I’s ah “in” NOW.
And sure enough this “room” was filled with... shit; boxes of it, notably a wall of fresh cardboard ones stuffed to the overflow against one wall and I scanned around the rest of the bare light bulbs (two) on the ceiling light that showed a table, another work table with tools, a set of shelves with... “stuff” on it, THE piece of plywood, TWO other doorways to other little room AND a stairs to the... “upstairs”.
HE started for the plywood. Screw that. Once I’m in, I’s ah gotta introduce commerce and ah, STAY in there until, maybe, I HIT some “more”: “YOU throw’en that TOO?” I say gesturing to the wall of boxes even though I KNOW that there is NO WAY those are “going out”.
He turns and stops... his progress toward the plywood. “Those? No. All that’s. Well. She’s going to donate it to the Church.” Which actually means HE’S gonna be loading it in the trunk of ... HIS sedan out there, box by box, LOAD BY LOAD so ah: I sat a quick count and see that there be twelve boxes and WITHOUT EVEN trying to look at ‘em say:
“I’ll pay sixty bucks for ‘em. That’s five bucks a box. There TWELVE boxes”.
“Well... no. She wants me to ah. Now wait a minute.”
“Cause I’ll get ‘em out of here right now too.”
“Yes but ah, MAYBE.”
“Huh. Look at the table. YOU get’en THAT out too? Huh. NOT bad. YOU painted it, right? TEN bucks.”
“That there; my table?”
“That one; the blue one”.
“Well.” and this said (uttered?) in such away as to verbally simulate him dragging it... across the YARD... . “I GUESS you could have it for THAT.”
BAM out comes the money wad and ah flip’en the bills right up there at his nose level we hit a ten and HE gets that in his hand and... we got do the little check now to, ah, firm the ice up. So dig this: I KNOW “I’m in”, I BOUGHT, I PAID and, ah, we don’t want to go TOO fast and do an overload on this ole duff so.... I do a “little check”:
“I’ll take the plywood out. Then get the table.” I say. I walk past him, WITH the ten still in his hand and pick-up the plywood that is as he described a “smaller piece” so I have no problem moving it and ...WALK out the door. What this does is allow the old duff to have a, shall we say, moment alone with “all this”: The money, the table, the boxes, the BASEMENT, ME, the trash, the cars, the WIFE and the ...bare light bulb of ceiling fixtures of the... BASEMENT he’s been ah “clean out”... burn down INTO... his brain. This is because I’ve been in ...enough... houses... to know that... if one checks a little... well: IF we’s gonna suddenly have a “no sale” on the table... we’s ah AIN’T that far along... AND if we’s gonna go on from here, a little breathing room might just be the THING that’s needed. So I went way out across the yard and put the plywood against the ‘burban AND turned it off for I’d ah left it running cause... well, I don’t want ACT like I’m gonna be there LONG. And locked it. Then “went back”.
: Always look them in the eye BUT you’s ah don’t have to do it FIRST. And you’ll find one has to LEARN this action of deploying eye contact. The best aspect about not looking into the eye and THEN looking into the eye is that one gets to SEE this action “hit” (effect) the party it’s direct at.