COUNTY AGENT GUY
My wife and I enjoy watching American Pickers and Antiques Roadshow even though such TV shows often drive us crazy.
For instance, Mike and Frank might be digging through heaps of castoffs in some grungy old shed. They are so deep in the debris, we are beginning to think they should be wearing scuba gear.
The guys will eventually surface from the junk jumble clutching a dusty something-or-the-other. They will talk about the history of the item, eventually informing its owner that its value is approximately equal to a king’s ransom.
My wife will invariably turn to me and ask, “Don’t we have something like that in the basement?”
I will regretfully inform her that we don’t have anything salable in our cellar.
“I was talking about Mike,” she’ll reply. “He’s one thing from the 60s that has definitely held its value.”
It isn’t much different when we watch Antiques Roadshow. Some worthless-looking piece of rubbish will be appraised for more than what we paid for the farm. My wife will say, “My grandma used to have something just like that,” and demand that I scour our attic to see if we have anything similar. I point out that we don’t have an attic.
“And even if we did have an attic,” I’ll say, “Our junk would probably just be the junk type of junk, not the valuable kind.”
Which she knows is true, based on our long history with junk.
Like many young couples, we had zero money when we started our lives together. I was a struggling young dairy farmer who plowed every available cent back into the operation. There were numerous times when we actually had less than nothing.
This obviously had a huge effect on our lifestyle, especially when it came to furniture purchases.
When we got married my wife decided we needed a bigger bed. The one I had was about the size of a bath towel, but wasn’t nearly as comfortable.
We couldn’t afford anything new, so we went to a used furniture store. It probably wasn’t a good sign that said store bore a striking resemblance to the set of Sanford and Son.
We chose our new/used bed based on myriad criteria, the main one being that it was the cheapest bed in the store. We hauled it home and, with only a minimal amount of cursing and recriminations, got it muscled into our bedroom.
Upon climbing into the bed that first night, we immediately noticed a deep trough down the center of the mattress. It was as if the bed had been jumped upon by a hyperactive hippopotamus.
The hollow was so deep that we had no choice but to sleep in the middle of the bed. We tried to stay on our assigned sides, but were pulled into the center by the inexorable gravity of the valley.
The depth of the trough made the simple act of rolling over a logistical nightmare. We had to roll in synchrony, calling out, “Ready? One, two, three, rool.”
As we soon learned, another reason the bed was so cheap was that its box spring squeaked. And I mean loud, and at the slighted movement. Blinking your eyes was enough to unleash an orchestra of squawks and twangs. It gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “music of the night.”
Our experience with purchasing a kitchen table wasn’t any better. We went back to the same used furniture store and the proprietor showed us kitchen tables that he described as “primitive” or “rustic.” But we couldn’t afford such highfalutin adjectives and again chose “cheapest one in the store.”
And it wasn’t a bad table – until we began to use it.
We quickly noticed that anything spherical would roll to the table’s center. At first we blamed the uneven floors of our farmhouse, but when we stood back a ways we saw that our table was as swaybacked as an old plow horse.
Which would have been OK, except its legs were also loose. Walking across the kitchen made the table wobble so much that it appeared we were experiencing a 9.0 earthquake.
Due to its shakiness and its uneven top, very few items were safe on that old table. We simply learned not to set anything of value upon it, which was good to know when the kids came along.
It finally got so we could afford a better table. The old table was tossed into the landfill and summarily forgotten. That is until recently, when we saw a similar item on American Pickers.
After the value of the timeworn table was revealed, my wife stared at me for a long moment.
“Why can’t you be more like Mike?” she asked.
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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