October 12, 2006 posted by Lindsay

>The Morning After

>Whew. The pageant mom discussion had gone so well that I wanted to give the Green Hills Moms Club a chance to get out their gripes and perhaps engage in a little friendly playgroup debate.

Um, that didn’t go so well, did it? Regardless, I obviously stand by every word of what I wrote about my MOMS Club experience, I’d be happy to attend another event and give you all another chance to impress me, and I’ll gladly share my sticky bun recipe with any who want it.

Besides, this whole playgroup thing is soooo last week. This week is all about yard sales! If there’s such a thing as hagglephobia, I’ve got it, but a few weekends ago, I tried to face my fears and dicker my way to a deal. You can read about it in this week’s Nashville Scene. Or hell, just read the full text of the column below.

Let’s Make a Deal

You could call my mom the Donald Trump of yard sales. She’s a high roller, ruthless in her deal making, unswayed by petty emotion and always certain that every hair is sprayed firmly into place. When I was growing up, summer mornings would find me slouched with a map in the passenger seat of her gigantic Mercedes as she rolled up to the front door of some venerable Atlanta estate.

“Mom, don’t you think we should park on the street for this yard sale, like everybody else?” I’d mumble.

“This driveway is way too long to walk in Chanel heels. Besides,” she’d say, nodding toward at the bargain hunters filing on foot up the driveway behind us. “Now we’re ahead of everyone else!”

Once she’d found something she was interested in, she’d summon the object’s owner with a wave of her bejeweled hand.

“What’s your best price on this side table?”

“350 dollars. Firm.”

“350!” She’d laugh, running a disgusted finger over the top. “Why, it’s not even signed. The joints are metal. And there’s a scratch on the back.”

“It was my great-great-great grandmother’s,” the owner would say pitifully.

“Pfft!” she’d murmur disdainfully. “I’d never pay a dime over 200 for this, and neither will anyone else who knows what’s fine. Come on, Lindsay,” she’d say. “Let’s go.”

“I’ll take 250 for it!” the owner would say quickly.

‘Can you believe it?” she’d chortle after the side table had been loaded in the trunk and we were on our way. “I saw this very same table for 15-hundred at the Atlanta Antique Market!”

Instead of following in her footsteps, mom’s shameless haggling had a paralyzing effect on me. I couldn’t bargain to save my life. Instead, I’d pay full price, fully aware that the seller was snickering behind one money-stuffed fist as I hauled away a ten-year-old crate of Skin So Soft.

“But you have to bargain!” My yard sale-loving friend Sue said when the subject came up. “It’s expected.”

“I know!” I replied. “I just feel so awkward.”

“Lindsay, you are 31 years old,” Sue said. “It is time to grow up and bargain!”

And so this past weekend, I headed out to a neighborhood yard sale, determined to dicker or die trying. At the first house on my list, I discovered a set of pajamas that were perfect for Baby. I took a deep breath and approached the seller.

“Will you take two dollars for these?” I croaked nervously. The woman looked up at me from a table of florist vases and sneered.

“No,” she replied. “Everybody who’s shown up has tried to talk me down on stuff.”

“That’s because it’s a garage sale,” I retorted in Sue’s voice. “It’s expected.”

“Well, those pajamas were expensive,” she said, looking at me as if I had asked her to lance a boil before turning away in disgust.

Clearly, I was the world’s worst bargainer. As I walked to the next house empty handed, I realized it was time to step up my game. I picked up a box of stationery and approached the seller.

“Whew, it’s hot out here,” I whimpered, clutching my pregnant belly. “I’m supposed to be on bed rest, but I’m a sucker for a bargain.” I smiled weakly and stumbled a bit, clutching a nearby card table for support. “Will you take a dollar-fifty for these?”

Sold. And it worked every time. Within an hour, my belly and I had knocked a total of ten dollars off my purchases and scored three free bottles of water.

Then I met Maude.

She seemed like a sweet old lady, holding court in a carport filled with kitschy Christmas decorations and ‘I heart Bellevue’ trucker caps. Alas, it was all a cleverly planned façade, designed to throw seasoned hagglers off their game.

“How much are these magazines?” I asked, pointing at a large stack of Good Housekeepings from the 1960s.

“Depends on how many you buy,” she answered. “Choose what you want and we’ll talk.” Quickly, I went through the stack and presented five magazines to Maude.

“Ohhh,” she said, shuffling through them. “You chose all the best ones. 15 dollars.”

“15!” I scoffed. “How about ten?”

“15 is a very good price,” she said. I put one hand to my forehead and closed my eyes for a moment.

“Sorry, but now that I’m pregnant, I get dizzy spells when I’m under stress,” I said woozily.

Marge sighed skeptically and looked around. “Well, I’m just a poor old woman, trying to get by on a fixed income,” she said softly, patting her hair. Great. Already, I had met my match. We stared unblinking at each other for a long moment.

“Ten,” I said evenly.

“Oh, all right,” she snapped. “But no bag.”

“My unborn child and I thank you,” I said gaily once I’d handed over a ten and gotten my magazines.

And as I sauntered away, I realized that while I may never attain Donald Trump status, being the Sarah Bernhardt of yard sales is going to do me just fine.