A funny thing happened to me on the way to a garage sale, Or, RainPt.I.

Last weekend, our county had a rare tornado warning that sent sirens ringing through the streets. Everyone was told to take shelter while the radio DJ played some Twista song because his sense of humor was apparently very dry. Meanwhile, I was driving my mother’s Venture with Nick the Twin sitting passenger, wondering what the odds actually were that this shitty rap single would be the last song we got to hear.

In the event of so much as a sprinkle, my family unplugs the computer. I’d gone from this level of security to sitting alone in some flooded street under an unsteady stoplight. The only other people I had seen in twenty minute’s time was a couple looking out from their home as they pulled their garage door down, and they had looked back at me and Nick as if to say they’d be praying for our souls.

“Thing is,” I started to think out loud, “there’s no tornado. It’s just perfect conditions for one.”

Nick shrugged, like he always does. The pelting rain was amusing me, but I’m sure he was bored. He’s often mentioning how safe he feels, while I’m driving. For some reason, I get a surge of concern whenever the speedometer gets high and he hasn’t grabbed the door. That afternoon, a juicy Robin had exploded against the windshield and Nick hadn’t flinched. Being the first thing I’d ever hit besides butterflies, I was upset.

“It was expected, considering you were going 90. It was stupid to fly out in front of you,” was all he’d had to say about it, slouched in the seat. A part of me is flattered that I have his trust, but another wants to tell him that I or anyone else could end his life, any given second.

We spent the sunnier part of that afternoon, cruising the garbage in other people’s garages. It’s amazing to me, that anyone would have the nerve to put a price on stuff that can only be described as Goodwill. Why should they make the money; they’re the ones trying to get other people to haul away their junk. Even so, we tried to follow the fluorescent signs to, as Nick put it, “find the treasure.” The most amusing thing I’d found was a floral-shirt patterned woman selling her cute little artsy-crafts alongside her very clashing and disturbing collection of bloody horror novels.

It was neigborhood of The Bratty Prince of Gays, Danstown. At one point in time we were 2 houses down from his residence. Dan has mentioned several times that the area is very religious and conservative, and sure enough. Every sale on his block had Amy Grant cassette tapes for sale. The inspirational hardcover version of some female country singer’s journey to happiness and success.

“If you see something and think it’s too much, we might be willing to come down on the price,” said one of the domesticated entrepreneurs bouncing a baby on her knee.

Then we hit this place that had boxes and boxes of old art supplies. The man overseeing kinda looked like you might think the stuff belonged to him. He was enough of a frizzy mess to be scary, like an artist, so I didn’t plan on hanging around the shed for more than a walk-through. My fingers dragged along the stacks of matting board, and it had me remembering when the art teacher taught me how to slice inner edges double-sided using some kind of T-Cross blade. That’s when the funny thing happened.

I recognized my own matting work.

There they were, the remains of what I’d left behind from my high school portrait display. Discarded measurements, too wide or too thin. Jet black with white trim. I suddenly started noticing other odd things that I had seen in the back of the classroom before a younger teacher replaced the old one…

“I did this,” I said to Nick, reaching out and grabbing a large square. He wasn’t sure what I meant.
“You did? You made that? I mean, how do you know?”
“This is mine. This must be where all of that stuff ended up. Wow.”
“Are you going to buy it?”
“No, we can go,” and as we crossed back over the front lawn, “I haven’t drawn anything in a long time.”
“I know.”

It wasn’t soon after that, when everyone began turning tail. Was it because sales ended around 5? Had the first raindrops summoned the tarps? Why are these guys crowded around the TV set, and how much do they want for it?

The dialogue is missing, because the men were using terms I’d never heard before. Something about the degree of storm warning and what state it implied the people were to abide by. I understood their faces and tones in the darkening garage, seriously worried about the weather. The occupants were bent down, pointing at one of those country maps as the digital colors swept over Michigan.

Excitedly, we ran back to the van and called it a day. There was never any tornado spotted, to my knowledge. A few people stood outside on their cells, looking up into the sky. A police car turned its lights on and shot off at high speed. Water continued to flood the Shiawassee River, but there wasn’t going to be any swirling funnel touching down. Just like there wasn’t any treasure to be found, or anything inside of those frames.

After the initial surprise and intensity had worn off, I fell into a depression behind the wheel.

“Maybe we’re in the eye,” Nick mused.

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9 responses to “A funny thing happened to me on the way to a garage sale, Or, RainPt.I.

  1. you live in tornado alley long enough- you’ll get to see more than one. its awesome. nothing like playing chicken with a real tornado where it might turn right at you. i remember seeing a friends family farm explode as one ripped across the plain near home. i was standing on the garage a couple miles away. you could see farm equipment as it was flung. then… no farm. its some exiting shit.

  2. I have seen a few tornado’s in my 24 years of life, never up close, but a way away. I told you the story about the one that landed about 200 yd. away from my car and made me go knock on someones door to take cover.

    My father once told me a story that he was driving semi once and was picked up by a tornado and set back down a few seconds later. I am not sure if I should believe him or not, I guess anything is possible.

    Sometimes my Father is like the Father in Big Fish and tells really fun stories that you cannot tell if they are real or not, I really don’t think I would want it any other way.

    • I wonder if I can still do that stuff.

      Well apparently, my junkers were good enough to salvage and sell. Had they been in the free box, I may have walked away with mixed emotions. Makes me feel good… I used to be quite skilled at it, considering it always felt foreign to me.

      “Can’t I PAY to have this shit done?!?” I’d yell from the back of the class, while my teacher sighed. And usually politely asked if I would refrain from using profanity.

  3. A funny thing happened to me too…

    When I was a senior in high school, in 1976, we were trying to raise money for a trip to Washington D.C. for a pre-Bicentennial celebration. We made a bunch of airbrushed & hand-painted tee shirts of various events from 1776. They were made to order and we sold over 200. 17 years later, I was pawing through some “vintage” clothing at a garage sale when I came across one of the shirts. Even more of a coincidence, it happened to be one that I had worked on, so I bought it for $1.

    As far as being “in the eye”, I always feel that I’m in the eye of the storm. It’s an unsettling calm when you never know from which directions winds of change will approach you. But I guess that’s life.

    • Good morning.

      That was poetic. It’s nice that you were able to derive some kind of message from my jibber jabber.

      “There has not been much of a breeze, sadly,” marked the Death Valley Queen.

      I could really use a good sweeping away.

  4. 23rd

    HEY! I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday, hope all goes well. I’ll be over tomorrow and i’m up for anything. tennis, walk, dinner, a movie. I got the cash. Whatever you want to do. It’s your day…..

    The Bratty Prince of Gays

    • children dying, people crying, happy birthday!

      I have a little bit of money, too. I’m thinking of looking for the newest Britney 2-disc DVD “In the Zone”. Sam Goody doesn’t have it, and Meijer doesn’t have it. I’m going to check K-Mart and Wal-Mart tomorrow, and if I still haven’t found it, I might ask you to ride with me into Flint so I can pick it up somewhere there.

      There is a second disc with live performances from her tour and I’d like to see what the new songs look like on stage! There is a place in the mall that might have some Madonna VHS recordings marked down, too. We’ll see.

      I might be too sore for tennis, tomorrow – I was the only person there on the last day of kickboxing, tonight, and we worked really hard. But I’m hoping to fit in The Walk before you make it over, and I thought we could see if Owosso fixed the night lights. If so, we can plan to play tomorrow night.

      I told my instructor that you might be able to go to the free Power Yoga class.

  5. hey autumn

    i got my lil jon cd today, but unfortunately, the last three and a half songs won’t play (including get low :( ). could you burn me another copy?

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