Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ask Nothing. Chapter Two


Ask Nothing.

The Best Antique I Ever Found
And
How I Found It.

By
A. Picker

Chapter Two 


            “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[1].
            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?”
            “West Bath.”
            “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.”
            “Sold ‘em”
            “You did.”
            “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”.



[1]: 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.








Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ask Nothing. Chapter One


Ask Nothing.

The Best Antique I Ever Found
and
How I Found It.

By A. Picker

Chapter One



            “It’s a thousand dollars.  You have to move it.  And You HAVE to get it out.  Today.  Now.”
            I bent over and flipped the section of canvas off the front of the barrel of the cannon.  I gripped my hand in the hole at the front.  Then I pulled on it hard, sort of up and sideways.  The cannon, which was brass, turned slowly as I slid it around a little as I yanked up on the barrel front.  My efforts to lift the barrel up were fruitless.  It was too heavy to lift.  I let go.
            “A thousand.” I said.
            “Right now, right here.  It’s yours.  But you have to get it out now.”  My... salesperson… paused.  Then he looked into my face.  “Can you get it out?” he asked.  He was serious about that.
            I didn’t have to answer.  The Spanish lady (I mean, she wasn’t SPANISH.  She was some sort of Central American or South American that I have no idea what, but, since she SPOKE Spanish and looked like all the other ladies who are always speaking Spanish, I CALL her a “Spanish lady”.) came back through the garage door.  This time she was carrying a broom.  She immediately approached the sales... man who, being about the same size as her, was placed on defensive physical terms by the broom and, as he seemed to understand WHY she had the broom, he began backing around so to get his back to the open doorway while keeping her to his front.
            “GET OUT!  GET OUT!  GO!” the Spanish lady started shouting at the salesman.  “HE’S COMING NOW.  YOU DON’T TOUCH THAT.  HE SAY DON’T TOUCH THAT!”  With this she raised the broom tip slightly from the floor toward the salesman.  As the salesman had succeeded in his backward circumvention of the garage’s open space, he, when the broom went up, retreated outside.  The woman’s attention then turned to me.  I’d sidestepped over the cannon to the rear wall of the garage.  “GET!” she said to me.  As my salesman was only a dark silhouette OUTSIDE of the garage, I decided the deal was off…?  So... I got.
            Outside, we both looked at the Spanish lady who stood guarding the open garage doors with her broom.  “Give me the money and I’ll get this for you.  This is no problem; this woman.  But we must hurry.  Can you get it now?  You MUST take it NOW.
            “Well...  I want it.” I said.  “I’ve got the money in the car.”  I gestured toward my Suburban truck.  “I can get it out of there.  IF I can get IN there.  I can back right to it.  That’s how it got in there.  Someone just dumped it on the floor.  So.  All I gotta do is pick it back up.” I said and then looked hard at my... salesperson… to see if, HOPEFULLY, he understood what I was saying.  He seemed to.  “There’s got to be a board or something in there I can shim it on with”.  We both watched the Spanish lady while I said that.
            “Go get me the money.  Bring your truck up.  I’ll take care of this.”
            The last part of his statement I didn’t trust.  Ever since we’d arrived at the garage, we’d had this Spanish lady hovering over us like a mad bumble bee.  Actually she only hovered over my salesperson.  ME she left alone (except for that “GET”).  We’d pulled in beside this two story old stick house from the 1920’s to get out behind it to this set of eight garage doors on a low slant roofed shed style building that ran the length of the rear between two matching “residential buildings” (shit apartments interposed into converted... old ... stick homes).  The first was the house we drove in by and the second was a similar house past this first one and on the other side of the this garage building.  The garage building butted against an embankment behind these ...homes... and that was the beginning rise of a small hill, covered with trees, scrub and trash that rose and ran behind all of the building all the way down this street.  At the end of this first rise was another street with similar homes and the rectums of these dwellings overlooked this garage and hillside in addition to explaining the source of the trash that cascaded down the hill.  This trash disappeared behind roof line of the garage building, but, in fact, some of the trash had actually landed on the garage roof.  Each garage bay had it’s own locked double door opening outward from it’s own little wooden walled room.  At the rear of each bay was a single window; dirty, neglected and with it’s frame painted black, that looked right into the trash, dirt and debris on the embankment behind it.  This gave a dim light to the floor at the rear of the garage bay.  In this particular bay this light fell directly on the jumbled old & dirty white canvas piece covering the very old brass cannon that... lay on the wooden floor.
            This “very old” brass cannon had been… cautiously... mentioned to me over a period of weeks (nearing “about six months ago”).  It began with a “Did I buy cannons” and moved to a passing description of “HOW” there was a “cannon” on the floor of this “garage” that the salesperson and his brother, both India Indians who, with true entrepreneurial zest, started by running a newspaper stand but had, as success and calculated capitalism offered, branched into a “the store” and… “rental properties”.  This last evidently included these TWO “residential properties” with this “garage” behind it.  This garage they rented, space by space, separately.  A “very old” brass cannon was truly “on the floor” when I was “take you to see it; EARLY:  We want to sell it for a thousand dollars.  Cash”.
            It was early, about 6:40 in the morning right now and about 6:15 when we’d showed up.  A MINUTE after we’d showed up the Spanish Lady came out of the first house and over to the garage bay that my salesperson had just unlocked after fumbling with a special set of keys in this old black leather key case.  “The right key” had been found, the padlock removed and door opened JUST before the mad bumble bee Spanish lady began to cross the open space between the house and the garage shouting something in Spanish that I didn’t understand except that she was obviously pissed as Hell that the salesperson was there and had opened THAT garage door.  The only English she said was “YOU GO!   YOU GO!  YOU LEAVE!  YOU GO!” and this over and over in between Spanish utterances that my salesperson seemed to understand but ignored.  Then she left but soon returned with the broom.
            Right now, I spent a minute digging a thousand dollars in cash out from the reclusive money bundles I carry for... just such transactions... and then seated myself so to drive, in reverse, the Suburban into the garage.  While I accomplished this I could hear one side of a conversation between the Spanish lady and my salesperson.  This is because she was shouting “GET OUT” over and over toward me while the salesperson was making no progress with her and saying nothing I could hear.  SO by the time I’d started the truck and reversed it to begin a slow arch toward the garage door, the Spanish lady had not moved and my salesperson DID move off to the left side and began to gesture me to back right over this enraged Spanish lady.
            Well.  I wasn’t gonna do that.  And I didn’t have to.  That’s because right then, as I made the slow arch, a man appeared from beside the house and walked directly to my salesperson.  I saw him coming first and so did the Spanish lady who immediately started an escalated screaming in Spanish and pointing which caused my salesperson to turn and see the man so I... thinking ahead, STOPPED driving in the slow arch in reverse.  I sat in the truck with it on and my window open.  I couldn’t understand what was being said.  The Spanish lady left the garage door and stood with the man.  The salesperson stood apart from them.  They were all positioned so I could watch them from my rearview driver’s side mirror.  Which I did.
            They talked.  Actually, they talked AND screamed at each other for about ten minutes.  Then my salesperson, who did not look pleased with the results of the conversation, left them and came over to me.  He got in the passenger’s side of the Suburban.  I had the thousand dollars sitting in the middle of the seat.  I saw him see this.  I picked it up.  “WE come BACK in two hours”. he said.  “TWO HOURS.  “THEN you get the cannon.  I get the money.” and his hand DID begin to extend toward this cute little pile of “American money”.
            “THEN you get it.” I said and casually folded the wad of bills in half to show that I was retaining it.  I could see the salespersons eyes on this money and how they expressed resignation at the folding.  He knew he would not get this money “now”.
            I then continued to back in the reverse arch but kept it up past where I would have straightened to back into the garage.  The Spanish lady and the man; a tall, thin, plainly dressed White man in his mid-fifties but retaining a full head of dark brown hair, stepped away toward the garage to watch us and get out of the way.  Once reversed, I drove out past the first house and ...away.  The two stood watching our departure.









Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Grandmother's Old New England Pembroke Table


Looking At

Grandmother’s Old New England Pembroke Table.

Understanding it and Proving to be a

Worthy and Gracious Guardian of it.




            This is not going to be a swell feel-good essay.  No.  It is about negligence and abandonment.  It is about ‘not seeing’ and bad taste.  Too.  It is about the cheap, the crass, the tawdry, the self importance and the flaunting of these as a proper etiquette.  It is about turning the back.  On.  It is about dithering and walking away while babbling at a smart phone.  It is not about being blind for that negligence is too ‘don’t know’.  One does ‘know better’ one would feel.  But that proves to be abysmal too.




            When I first see the old table, I am twenty steps away in the daylight at the head of a garage bay.  The table is back against the rear wall in the moist gray light.  I know exactly what it is.
            Exactly.
            And I am not there to be shown that table.  I am there to ‘look at’ ALL of the “stuff back there”.  The “car” had been moved out to allow my ease of viewing.  I pretend to care about all of this and, especially, the desire to ‘have the space back’ and that space “all cleaned out too”.




            I don’t care.  If it wasn’t for the old table, once a seven generation family anchor now about to be jettisoned in a burial-at-sea ‘cleanout’... I would not have
            Stuck around.
            But, of course, I know better.  I have better taste and... a better historic eye.  A better art eye.  A better sense of (old New England) heritage.  And... a better sense of (old New England) romance.  When I look at the old table.  Twenty feet away.  In the moist gray garage bay light.
            I say nothing about this.
            In less than an hour the old table is in the back of the truck with the... ‘rest of the stuff’ from the garage bay.  The bay is empty until the car is ‘parked back in there’.




            What is an antique table from twenty feet away?  It is a sensation; a physical nervous tingle merged with an art based mind-to-eye notification seconds later becoming affirmation.  All twenty feet away.  In the moist gray light.  “Back there”.  So not only do I say nothing but I, too, do nothing.  The table (once a “grandmother’s”) is jettisoned; buried at sea.  In the back of my truck.
            The table top has a large... from-planted-pot... water stain on the ‘its top’.  Grandmother created that?  Or was it her grandmother.  This doesn’t take long to figure out. And... nothing is said or mentioned of it; the plant pot stain OR the table.  Anyway.  But I figure it out in seconds
            See here now the what I see is that the old table of Grandmother’s is a “has been refinished” sometime along the time.  That refinish was ‘professionally done’ too for it is a good (uniform) job removing the old original ‘Indian red’ painted surface.  That refinish too had a new ‘good quality’ Hepplewhite style drawer pull ‘put on’ where once there was none excepting a tiny brass pull.  That is long lost leaving only its tiny hole... under the new hardware... on the old drawer front.  The drawer was originally designed to be open by the pull of fingers reaching the chamfered pull slot at the bottom of the drawer front.  But no one knows that is there now... just as it has always been there... except me.  I pull the drawer out from there just slightly only to ‘let me know’ (the drawer is ‘straight’; ‘all original’ and works).  This is all too much for you already-anyway isn’t it:  And done in ‘not noticed’ too.  Better off checking your txt messages... darling.
            So the ‘refinish’ is probably 1950’s but possibly dating earlier to be 1930’s.  So... it is just grandmother’s potted plant stain.  Not HER grandmother’s stain.  But it is HER grandmother’s table... that she discovered and ‘professionally refinished’.  Not the smartest antiquarian move but does ‘show she cares’ (about the table).  And cared.  Then she died (passed on).  The table was a ‘still here’ after that.





            Before that; grandmother’s - grandmother’s table, was a grandmother’s table before that for... how many generations?  Lived in that house?  With the table always the ‘still here’ generation after generation until generation after generation... finally... moved the table out of that house to be... ahhhh.... ‘stored’ at the back of the garage bay to be... ahhhh...... jettison it as burial at sea.  Okay with this and I am still twenty feet away from the table too?
            Maybe if someone (that’s a very large body of people) knew what the old table “is” or... “WAS”... maybe.  Right?  Yeah:  Just like that... everything is gonna be okay.  Why?  Because I get the table and I know what it IS and it IS in the back of my truck and I am driving away with it after seven generations of ‘grandmother’s table’ all pass before everyone’s eyes... in the moist gray back of the garage bay.  “See?”






            Now... what is it; this grandmother’s table?  It is a... taper leg Hepplewhite fold leaf Pembroke table with a drawer; a style of English origin very popular in, and too, made in New England between 1780 and 1820.  This table is made of New England Birch wood.  It (the New England and ‘made’) is gussied up to be titled ‘New England Federal period taper leg Hepplewhite style Pembroke table with drawer’.  The ‘Pembroke’ comes, vaguely, from ‘Earl of Pembroke’ (England) ...vaguely.  The whole is a ‘foundation grade’ New England style and taste furniture classic.  Hence the ‘twenty feet away’.  It is so classic one may possibly note it at FORTY FEET AWAY.  If one cannot do this (note it at all)... one’s (New England Wasp) ‘taste’ is “crude” (bad).
            I restate this again:  If one does not know what this table is when one sees one then one has... bad taste.  Don’t wave your finger at me.  Seven generations of your grandmothers are waving their fingers AT YOU.





            How does this be the ‘comes to be’?  Because I “grew up” with these tables in the houses; antique New England Pembroke tables in old New England seven generation homes.  You did too.  You just ‘don’t know’.  Or notice.  They are there.
            Ours wasn’t in the kitchen (a ‘kitchen’ or ‘breakfast’ table) but a lot of them are.  Ours was not.  No.  Our kitchen had an old handmade-on-the-farm sawbuck table painted in an ochre yellow paint that was the same size as a New England Pembroke table... that we’ve all used as our breakfast table for seven generations.  I still have it and use it.  For this generation it is a ‘my table’.  My Aunt carved her initials on the end of the top during her generation of usage.  Because of this table our ‘grandmother’s old New England Pembroke table was somewhere else in the house.  That is common; for these tables to be ‘around’ “somewhere else”.
            Ours was ‘under’ the double windows in the... you call it a ‘living room’... where around three walls of that room are seating and tables all facing the fourth wall with that being the old fireplace.  Seating is ‘center – left side – right side’ ‘before the fireplace’.  This room, the original main room of the original Federal period built home ...that is now just the ell of the whole home after the Greek Revival addition was added to the front of the Federal homestead in 1832 relegating the old fireplace as ‘old’... this room... is where our family sat.  And sits.






            There, on the left side below the double windows is our family’s ‘grandmother’s Pembroke table’ “with drawer”.  It is arranged so that the ‘drawer end’ (the end with the drawer in it) faces left onto my grandmother’s (sewing) chair... where she always sat.  She died in 1982.  It is just the same there; the table with ‘her light’ on it.  Her “sewing” chair.  The drawer on the table pulled slightly open with her sewing in it.  Her sewing bag behind the chair.  With the... old light olive green glass demijohn that she was filling with old postage stamps she cut off of the mail... whatever that was about... it’s just the same.  We called the Pembroke “grandmother’s sewing table”.  She called it “my grandmother’s sewing table”.  That’s as far back as anyone ever commented.  It was always there.  I guess.  Everyone knows what it is.  No one has ever mentioned moving it, jettisoning it or having it buried at sea.  It has never been in the moist gray light at the back of a garage bay.






            That table... is the ‘first one of those’ I ever really looked over hard.  As a budding antiquarian I found out about the form; New England Pembroke, and... studied it.  Study means I ‘looked’ my grandmother’s sewing table all over.  I even took the drawer all the way out, with its contents still in it, sat it on the floor and peaked ‘all underneath’.  My grandmother was there for that.  She kept talking about her grandmother and used the word “Pembroke” at least a dozen times.  The whole result of this council about the table is that
            I had this (antiquarian) form
            Down.






            Since then it’s just been one old New England Pembroke table...
            After another.
            I’ve been finding them... and purloining them... for years (decades).  No one has ever stopped me.  Often someone says “nice table” or “I love the leg” or “It DOES have a drawer doesn’t it”.  Say stuff like that... with a knowing inflection.  One is pretty advanced with the New England Pembroke form when one encounters the knowing inflection realm of knowing about these tables.  That little world is ‘most of the time’ a ‘blow by’.  That’s how that table that day had traveled to the moist gray lighted garage bay.  It had become ‘blow by’.





            I don’t ever expect anyone to know about old New England Pembroke tables.  I mean “why bother”.  You either know or don’t know.  “Sort of know” that a Pembroke is an ‘old table’ doesn’t bring one along.  No.  That’s where that plant pot stain comes along.  That’s real; grandmother’s plant pot stain.  She did that.  Grandmother did that... for you... to remind you of her... for the eternity... of the ‘her table’.  If you try to fix it... it will look like you ‘mucked with it’.  So just LEAVE IT ALONE.  Just put a doily over it and set the electric lamp on that.  If anyone ever asks, which they will not... just say that’s your (greatest-great) grandmother’s ...old New England Pembroke table... and that she did that; stained the table... with her potted plant.  Since they don’t have such a Pembroke table themselves... like... what are they gonna say?  “MINE HAS A STAIN LIKE THAT TOO!”.  It would really be just so cool if that is what happens.  It’s never happened to me yet.  In fact no one has ever said anything about any of the old Pembrokes I’ve recovered from the sea. 





            That is really what one gets out of this:  An old New England statement of good (understated) taste.  The tables are not rare.  The form is not rare.  Conditions vary noting two hundred years of New England domestic usage.  Cost of specimens are ‘easily affordable’ down to downright “cheap” when found... with fair regularity... at estate sales, garage sales, thrift stores and even ‘antiques shops’.  That is because ‘nobody knows what they are’ or ‘cares’ ‘anymore’ “they say”.  That’s not the way I know it though.  I see the tables all the time acting as guardians of old New England homes.  I will even say that without a Pembroke... an old New England home is ‘empty’.  And it is very possible for you to already have a true antique ‘grandmother’s Pembroke’ in your home and ...not know it.  Wouldn’t THAT be a surprise.  But, these days, people’s ‘taste’ is “just that foolish”.