After a long day of exploring the stunning landscapes of the Mojave Desert, we thought we’d go “antiquing”, having heard people boast about their finds at the local antique shops. We drove up and down the main strip, and pulled into a promising looking venue, a fenced-in yard filled with bric-a-brac and cardboard boxes. There were two other young couples in there, with dismayed expressions on their faces. “Nothing good left,” one of them said as he passed me. Not one to be easily deterred, I ignored his warning and wandered deeper into the piles of boxes. I took note of the waterstained self-help books and the unopened mail marked “Urgent: Open By December 6, 2002”. I used my shoe to poke around in a box of miscellany, and approached a vintage Crock-Pot for a closer look, only to discover some petrified stew coating the bottom.
I grew increasingly uncomfortable at this display of household charnel, as if its misery could rub off on me. Normally, objects at yard sales and flea markets call out to me in one way or another, with some song of nostalgia or potential. But this was truly a graveyard, and a neglected one at that. I even felt a vague sense of danger, as if this yard was laid out as bait, to lure people from the road into some kind of trap. Nothing good left, indeed. Where were all the great antiques people bragged about? Could this really be it?
We left to get some BBQ and regain our strength – and on the way, we spotted this lowly banana peel sunning itself in the sand.
On the way out of town, we passed a strip of lovely looking antique shops, only a half mile down the road. But by that time, it was too late to stop. Oh well, we said. Next time.