Saturday, May 1 2010
I've known for years now that India Pale Ale produces the worst possible hangovers, but it tastes so good that once I've drunk a certain number it's really hard to not drink more. This explains the terrible hangover today. Interestingly, my hangovers are not generally that bad on the morning after the overindulgence. So this morning when the phone rang before 8:00am with David and Penny on the other end of the line wondering if I really wanted to go yard saling with them today as I'd initially planned, I said sure. Gretchen was a little surprised, but as I explained at the time, "It's yard sailing, not yard rowing." I just kick back and let Penny and David do the driving. Today's outing was partly to see if yardsaling with a baby in tow was even possible. Milo is fairly low-maintenance as babies go, and things seemed to go well.
Eventually there we were again in West Hurley stopping at one sale after another. At a certain into today's saling, I realized why it was that we could generally tell a good yard sale from a great distance. It has to do with the palette of colors defined by the mass of a person's stuff. If it's an off-white, light green, any sort of pink, or yellow, the person running the sale probably has terrible taste. It will be full of crappy girl's toys, bad plastic furniture, and glassware printed with praying hands or flowers. But if the palette of colors is a rich dark brown, black, or olive-green then you'll find valuable antiques, good furniture, and maybe even nice clothes (along with the little gems that a person with good taste might sell at a yardsale).
Eventually we had bagel-based brunch at Bread Alone in Woodstock. On our last yardsale outing I wasn't vegan and had ordered "the Works" (which comes with salmon). This time I ordered basically the same thing, but with non-dairy cream cheese and no salmon, and I didn't find myself missing the latter. We ate these out in the sun-drenched patio area behind the store. There was a copy of the New York Daily News on our table. Its massive-font front-page headline made hysterical reference to a supposed group of well-groomed Islamic terrorist that had recently been rooted out. Inside, I found an article about how Casios are the jihadists' watch of choice. As David and I chuckled over this story, two women at a nearby table went conspicuously silent, as if listening in on our conversation so as to better report it to authorities. It was eerie enough to remind David of the tales he'd read of the surveillance state that Rumania was under Nicholai Ceausescu. Then again, David looks a little like a sleeper-cell terrorist who has cut back his facial hair in an effort to blend into American society.
On Dutchtown Road off Glasgo Turnpike (at that point we'd ventured a bit far from our usual Woodstock haunts), we found an older codger selling old hand tools, and I decided to buy an old-style ratcheting drilling brace, similar to one I remember from my childhood. I told the old codger that I used to use a brace like that when I was a kid because "my father doesn't believe in power tools." "I like your father," said the old codger. It turned out I'd given him too much money for the drilling brace and after I'd ventured from the garage to the house he tracked me down and returned a dollar. The old codger was full of aphorisms about age and wisdom that he kept volunteering, such as, "The younger generation think they're smarter, but they're not because they haven't made as many mistakes as us old folks." For lack of a name, he started referring to me as the "the younger generation," particularly in the presence of Penny and David, whom he seemed to think of as my aunt and uncle. The old codger briefly snapped out of his cuddly old man pose when a young woman in a sporty little two door roared past unacceptably fast on Dutchtown Road (which is dead-end). "That fucking bitch!" he declared.
The most interesting yardsale of the day lay at the end of a long dirt driveway off of Glasgo Turnpike south of Saugerties. As we drove down that driveway, Penny and I were humming that famous creepy banjo line from Deliverance, "Dinga ding ding ding ding ding ding." It's a catchy melody and I was sure I'd start humming it in front of whoever it was running the sale. So I began exercising strong conscious control over my verbal utterances as I climbed out of the car. Penny evidently wasn't as vigiliant, and when I heard her humming that tune, I brought it to her awareness. She immediately stopped, horrified at how close she'd come to revealing her unflattering thoughts. The guy running the sale seemed to be nearly bed-ridden, his face gradually being taken over by melanoma. But for someone like me, his house full of loot was really interesting. He used to be a ham radio buff back in the day and had once even operated a store, so had scads of old radio equipment and components ranging in age from vacuum tube triodes to integrated op-amps. It was all completely overwhelming and all I could manage to buy was a box of aluminum stand-offs. As David and I waded around in the cluttered gloom, I joked, "This is what I aspire to in life, to, when I die, leave behind a cluttered pile something like this." "You and I have very different aspirations," David replied.
The one other big score for the day was a gorilla mask with a cloying rubbery chemical smell that I found impossible to wash from my hands.
Back at the house, Gretchen was just finishing up brunch with our houseguests from last night. By this point, though, my hangover was intensifying, so I went upstairs to lie down.
In the evening, Gretchen wanted me to come with her to a brand new music festival called Truck (45 minutes to the west out in Big Indian). The lineup was to include local alt-rock heroes Mercury Rev and various alt-country acts like the Sadies and Gary Louris from the Jayhawks. But by then I was feeling pretty weak and I felt like I should be doing computer work, so I begged out.
Thus Gretchen went on her own and had what she later described as a "magical" time. There were relatively few people at Truck, so most of the performances were fairly intimate. For example, Gretchen found herself sitting next to Louris and so chatted for a time and bought him a drink.
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