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July 27, 2011 / jwaxo

GameBoy Advance (Garage Sales)

Mmm mmm, like having a tiny Super Nintendo in your pocket.

So I almost was going to tell the story of how I got my GameBoy today. Almost. But I was looking at myself in the mirror, thinking about the scenario and such, and realized it would make a horrible story. I was a baby in the circumstances leading up to it, a whiny selfish jerk during the actual reception, and then completely blew it off and had a great time with it (leading up to the playing of at least one awesome game). I had forgotten this fact so well that I thought it would be a great story until actually forcing myself to recount it to… well, myself.

So no.

I am the hero of this blog. I do not have to be a whiny little third grader who gets to go to Germany because he can’t stand a week with his parents gone for a wedding that didn’t end up happening who then proceeded to get upset when he didn’t get his annual Christmas money but then immediately cheered up at the realization that he had finally gotten that video game device all of the cool kids had, plus two awesome games that would live on in history.

So I get to be awesome seventh-grade me who saves up the money for a GameBoy Advance all on his own. And this is how.

So garage sales.

Garage sales in our family are legend. They are the way we would make money. If there was something big and new and we wanted it and no major holiday was approaching, we would want to have a garage sale.

I’m not sure if other families do these kinds of things. Most of the people I know shop at garage sales if they feel like it (although Craigslist has been slowly killing that off), but I don’t know if I’ve talked to two people who had their own garage sales when they were growing up. I never thought about it at the time. I figured that was how adults could afford jetskis.

Only people with excess money could afford to be scared on their days off.

And it was never just a “hey, let’s do that this weekend thing.” It can’t be. By necessity. There’s a lot of planning in it. First you’d go through your room, go through every single toy you had, and put it into a pile or a box or an even bigger pile if the box ran out of room. Then you’d go through your clothes. Then the attic. Then the basement. Then, of course, the garage, and all of the closets, and that place in the backyard that a few items managed to get stuck in. Once this gigantic pile of your stuff was formed, you’d put stickers on everything, then choose a price and write it on the sticker. Sometimes you’d pick a bad price and a family member would correct you and you’d cover it with a second sticker.

Shoot, son, you need signs! Signs to put up all over the neighborhood. At least one path of them from the main road that goes past the subdivision entrance to your street, pointing straight down to the cul-de-sac you live on. A couples others leading to this straight path. They need to be bright and easy-to-read and possibly have times on them (just in case). These don’t get put up until the day of, of course.

Want to take an ad out in the paper? That costs money that your parents will probably front, or will take out of the cashbox that you will soon be filling. If it’s a moving sale you’ll be charged more money, so you never say that. Never.

If you want it to be a really awesome garage sale you get other families in on it. That family from down the street or those relatives or someone, anyone so that you can say it’s a multi-family garage sale and get more visitors. You work out shifts. You buy lunch.

All so you can sit around all day and take people’s money.

All for a video game or two.

Possibly worth it.

Our most prized possessions in these garage sales were almost always our old video games. We never really wanted to see them go, but were egged on by our willingness to get more, and then utterly disappointed when no one wanted to buy them. A game that gave us hundreds of hours of enjoyment might only go for a few dollars, maybe less if it was late in the afternoon.

Entire systems, themselves bought used, would go for half of the price we paid for them. Goodbye, NES. Goodbye, Sega. Goodbye old GameBoy, ye who helped me survive on four day car trips and oversea flights.

Hello, Sega. Hello, Playstation. Hello, GameBoy Advance.

We never made enough money to afford these things outright, either. There would be a dip in spending involved, or the sale of something that we would almost immediately miss. I still can’t believe we sold our LEGOs for some stupid reason.

The GameBoy Advance, though. That was a particular goal I associate with garage sales. I only just pulled off affording it, too, a sacrifice that would have been horrible, as I sold the old brick GameBoy for it. I pulled the same trick a few years later with my old N64 for the GameCube.

I guess there wasn’t that much of a story there, in any case. Just the sad truth of the garage sale cycle, as almost always the things we bought with the garage sale money came from, well, someone else’s garage sale.

By the way, I never liked MarioKart and am horrible at it.


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