Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
TAG SALE BLUES
I was hoping it would never happen here. This was always such a quiet and respectable neighborhood. Unfortunately, no area is immune to the rapid disintegration of civilized society that sweeps our nation. Yes, I’m afraid our once quiet street was ravaged by—I shudder even to say the words—a tag sale.
I don’t remember when the yellow signs went up; it may have been Monday. I had completely forgotten the tag sale horror stories which were prominent on the CBS Evening News last summer. It wasn’t until Thursday, two days before the day, that it all came back to me. My wife and I drove past one of the yellow signs as we turned down our street.
“Oooh, the McGillicuddy’s are having a tag sale!” she gushed. “I’ll bet they have some great stuff for sale.” When I saw the gleam in her eye—you know what I mean, that gleam—I did a U-turn and drove to the medical clinic. Luckily I was in time to get her the “Anti-Tag-Sale-Hysteria” shot. I couldn’t imagine trying to survive this with a zealot under my own roof.
Bizarre things began to happen at dusk on Friday evening. Unfamiliar cars drove slowly down the street, almost coming to a stop in front of the McGillicuddy’s house before squealing away into the night, obviously casing the joint. I went to bed bracing for the worst.
At 6 a.m. Saturday morning, I was awakened by the sound of shrill voices. I rolled over to peer out the window. An elderly woman was having an animated discussion with Mrs. McGillicuddy in her driveway. “Absolutely not! I won’t sell anything until eight-thirty!” Mrs. Mac thundered. The woman stomped back to her car fuming, but able to take solace in her prime parking space.
My recollection of the next twelve hours is somewhat fuzzy. Experts say it is not uncommon for the human mind to distort perceptions when faced with a traumatic experience. It all seemed to occur like one of those hallucination scenes in a bad ‘70s movie.
I remember the cars, dozens, maybe hundreds of cars. By 8 a.m. the street was in complete gridlock. There were cars in the street, cars in every driveway, cars on the lawns. I barricaded my front door, hoping we had enough food and water to wait out the siege. (Rats! Why did we donate all our Y2K emergency supplies to the homeless shelter last spring? Here was a true societal meltdown.)
About an hour later I had to move the furniture away from the front door when I spied a man and a woman haggling over my wife’s flower box on our front porch.
“Er, umm, excuse me,” I stammered while stepping meekly onto the porch. “Pardon me, folks, but that’s not for sale. The tag sale is across the—”
The gleam. They both were staring at me with that gleam. “I’ll give you seventy-five cents for this!” the woman snapped.
“Lady, it’s not for—”
“One dollar!” the man screamed. They squinted, leaned forward, and in unison, stepped toward me.
“It’s yours!” I yelled. “Take it! Split it in half! No charge!” I clambered to the door as if it were a boat and my porch was shark-infested waters. Once inside, I slid the couch back against the door and slumped onto it sobbing.
Exhausted, I finally dozed off and fell into a deep sleep. When I awoke, I was groggy and disoriented. I had no idea how long I had been sleeping. Had it all been a bad dream? I sat up and noticed a gaudy lamp on the end table. Where did that come from? Just then my wife walked into the room.
“What a great bargain,” she exclaimed. “Mrs. McGillicuddy only wanted fifty cents for it!”
Oh no! The vaccine wasn’t working. The plague had infected my own household.
“You should go over there,” she said. “There’s a lot of power tools for sale. They only want a dollar or two apiece.”
Power tools? For two bucks? Oooh.
My hands started to shake. It was as if a mysterious force was possessing my body. I grabbed my wallet and walked out of the house. Gleaming.
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