How Much Longer?

The first thing that caught my attention was a box of axes. I saw some other stuff but these got me to stop. It wasn’t really a box, it was a plastic milk crate from a dairy somewhere. I don’t remember where but the crate had the word “Dairy” on it. It was red and it was full of axes. No, they were hatchets. That’s a better description. There were probably 15 of them piled into this red milk crate. Never saw anything like that before. It looked peculiar.

The next thing I noticed was all the electrical wires and extension cords hanging from the ceiling and running down the walls. The entire place looked like it might short circuit and start a fire. Even the main electrical panel had bare wires coming out of it. Why are antique stores always older than any of the antiques in them? This was a pretty large building. It took us a good hour to see the “antiques.”

There was stuff everywhere. After lookin’ at the axes and making the rounds, I realized the store was divided into booths. People rented space, fixed it up, and put their products on display. You a need quilt? They were hanging on the walls in a small room along with handmade pillows and blow torches. Seriously. I guess the guy collected blow torches and his wife made fancy pillows and quilts.

Have you ever noticed in a place like this that everything smells like mildew? I hate that smell. Sort of makes me sick. So, naturally, I wanted to know how much longer we’d be staying. That’s a risky question to ask your wife. When I ask that question, it means I think I’m either going to have a seizure or die if I don’t get out of there immediately. What Kathy thinks when I say it is, “he hates shopping with me and would rather be doing anything else…anything.” Since we’re on vacation, and since she’s put up with all the stuff I wanted to do for the past two weeks, I didn’t ask. I just kept looking, waiting for the seizure, making mental notes about what I saw, hoping she’d want to get out of there soon. I also spent a lot of time sniffing the candles and essential oils.

Some of what I saw though, I really wanted. Who wouldn’t want a cotton candy machine or a pair of bright orange “Polo” gym shoes? They looked new, which when you think about it, isn’t surprising. There were boxes of old records. Records like all those I’d given away the last time we moved. I was reminded of a Gordon Lightfoot song entitled “Get Out Old Dan’s Records.” I like Gordon Lightfoot. His music reminds me of the 70’s. I was younger then. These “old” records were so old, most of them didn’t have grooves anymore. Not what Gordie had in mind when he wrote the song. I saw a few Beach Boy and Simon and Garfunkel LPs. I loved all that music but since I don’t have a turntable anymore, records were pretty much out of the question.

There were lot’s of picture frames with pictures of people who looked, how shall I say this, different? Yes, leave it at that. Different. I wouldn’t hang them in the house for fear of scaring my grandkids. And on every wall, clocks. Each clock, ticking away, but none showing the correct time. The second hand on one clock had a twitch and jumped back and forth between 2:16:19 and 2:16:21. It was mesmerizing. When I came back to check a few minutes later, it was still twitching.

Then there was the table covered with old woodworking tools, just like the ones I’d given away. For 30 years I had tools like these in my garage. They were never used. One day, I got rid of them. I had them on a shelf until they were old enough to be legally called “antiques.” I’m not sure what age that is. Somewhere between 50-100 years, I guess.

The oldest looking things in the building were signs that said, “If you break it You buy it.” I started wondering, what if I walked past an old shelf and it suddenly collapsed. How much would it cost me? What do you do in an antique store if you walk by a shelf and something just falls off? I bet it happens all the time. From then on, I touched nothing. I was going to walk around with my hands on my head so they could see it wasn’t me if something came crashing down. I put them into my pockets instead.

Anyway, after the third trip around the building, I was looking for a place to sit down. This is tiring stuff. Antiquing, I mean. Have you ever noticed in an antique store that there are chairs everywhere but they all say “DO NOT SIT IN THE CHAIR?” Yup. A bunch of chairs but none “sittable.” Who would buy a chair you can’t use? You’d put it in your house, in a corner, with a piece of string across it to prevent “sitters.” That wouldn’t slow the grandkids for a second. The chair would be in a heap in 2 minutes.

Then I saw the old Ritz Cracker tins. At least a dozen of them on a top shelf. Mine is on the workbench in the garage and holds an assortment of nails and screws. I had no idea it was worth $10.

I enjoy reading so I’m always on the lookout for a good book. Most of you like to read too otherwise you wouldn’t be here. But this place was full of books I wasn’t at all interested in, by authors no one has ever heard of. I mean, I couldn’t get published to save my life, but these people have actually written something and gotten it published. Gotta give ‘em credit I guess. I didn’t buy any books.

I could have bought a pocket knife. There were dozens but they each looked the same. They were alphabetized and had names on them. Albert was first and Zebulon (or something like that) was at the bottom of the display rack. An old knife doesn’t have your name engraved on the handle. It says Buck or Rambo or OJ or something like that. These were new and sharp. Antique knives are dull and the blade is usually broken. And it doesn’t have China written on the blade.

In the end, just before I almost asked, “How Much Longer,” we bought an old sign to hang in the basement and a few things for Kathy to use for crafts with the kids. Not bad. The axes or hatchets, whatever, are still in the milk crate.

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