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A GARAGE SALE is a sale you have to sell things you don't want, never needed, but bought anyhow - probably at someone else's garage sale.

I managed to reach my late 40s before actually putting some of my own stuff in a garage sale. But recently, the ax just fell. We had to have our sale.My wife and I stayed up late spreading the junk (er, priceless mechandise) on card tables and preparing for the sale of the century.

Our sale was to begin at 8 Saturday morning. Our first customers showed up about 7. FRIDAY NIGHT!

"We want a sneak peek," they said. At this point we'd just finished setting up card tables. Nothing was priced.

I had on my underwear, a pair of black leather combat boots I was debating whether to keep or sell, and a Mexican sombrero with little ball tassels that my parents had brought me from their trip to Guadalajara in the late 1950s.

"Uh, well, this isn't a movie - unless you like sombreros." They left, miffed.

Now came the hard part.

Our wares, which had been in various garages over the last decade gathering spider webs, roach eggs, slender silver bugs and mold, were displayed grandly, awaiting pricing.

I felt a tug of melancholy.

Gleaming in stacks as it was, here was the baggage I'd collected along a trail that stretched across the country.

Little memories of life, sitting there waiting for price stickers. How do you put $1 on a tie I wore to my first job interview? Or $2.50 for a pair of ice skates I wore when I learned how to skate in Atlanta covering the Atlanta Flames hockey team for The Atlanta Journal?

I saw a worn-out old portable typewriter, covered with dust. Martina Navratilova spied it in a press room in Atlanta in the '70s and said: "Made in Czechoslovakia, like me."

How can you put a price on this kind of treasure?

Next morning, pre-dawn, they began arriving.

The early birds.

My typewriter was priced $10, but a middle-aged Asian woman, who wanted to use it in a college class to study English, offered $5. Sold. Oh, yeah, sold. Learn well, dear lady.

I sold a pair of Wrangler jeans which hadn't fit me since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. The lady who bought them said she was shipping them to Paris. I thought: Here I sit, sweating in my garage, and my pants are going to Europe!

Garage sales.

Finally, it was over.

Most of the waffle irons and coffee makers and old shirts and wooden stuff was gone.

Two tired, scraggly looking things remained.

But that was okay. Later that afternoon we'd take showers and be fine.