Tag Archives: fun

The Desk That Didn’t Sell

Well, it wasn’t a desk at all. That was the whole issue. It’s a beautiful piece of solid walnut furniture. A fabulous looking mid century modern desk. Flat top, tapered legs, several drawers and really cool hardware. But it’s actually a sewing machine cabinet. Without the sewing machine.

I have it in my antique store. Can’t remember where I found it, or how much I paid for it, but when I saw it I knew I loved it and could sell it in the store.

It’s been sitting there, waiting patiently for a new home, for nearly a year now. So you can imagine how excited I was when the sales clerk called me to tell me that someone was interested, but wanted a better price. What could I do for them?

Under the circumstances I might normally slash the price. Half off! Give the damn thing away! But I knew it was still a very nice piece and was worth more than I was asking for it. Nonetheless, customers in antique stores always like to feel like they are negotiating themselves a great deal, and I’m happy to help with that perception. I told the clerk to give them 25 per cent off. Nice piece. Good for them.

As I reviewed the daily sales I noticed that the “desk” was not listed as sold. Hmmm I thought. Had they wanted me to give them the desk for free? What kind of people were these? The next morning I rode up to the store.

There sat the desk. Unsold.   But every item that had been displayed on it was removed, and scattered randomly throughout the store. What in the world?!!!

Approaching the sales counter, the clerk smiled at me and laughed. She said they had agreed to take the desk at the offered price, but changed their mind when they realized that it was a sewing machine cabinet. The clerk thought it was still a nice piece of furniture that could be used as a desk and didn’t understand the big deal. Obviously the customer didn’t see it that way. And didn’t read the clearly marked tag.

What fascinates me however is not the customer’s change of heart, or their desire to get exactly what they wanted. No, it’s the idea that they removed every item from on top of the piece, set each and every one down somewhere else, and then walked out and left it that way. They must of thought the sales staff had noting better to do than clean up their mess. I know, it’s retail and that’s how customers are.

On other occasions I’ve noticed that people will pick things up and put them down somewhere completely different. Could they have forgotten while they stood there admiring the object, where they had found it?

And why do they bring me their trash? I find stuff all over the store. And yes, we do have a trashcan at the desk. Candy wrappers , soda cans, coffee cups. All left among the antiques. Like I’m not going to notice. More stuff for my staff to clean up. I know, it’s retail and that’s how customers are.

This morning as I scoured the scene, I noticed a grape on the floor. We don’t sell food in the antique store. And we don’t have a lunch counter. The grape came from outside. And one of my treasured retail customers left it for me on the floor.

I spent an hour or so replacing all of the objects which had been on the desk, cleaning up the grape, and tidying up in general. And I can’t wait to see what I find next time.

That’s part of my story, what’s yours?


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Is infinity a quantum physics concept? Something that rocket scientists sit around discussing as they peer into their telescopes and the heavens? Or is it just an idea that is really hard for most of us to wrap our heads around? It’s a big place.

I once has a conversatioin with a customer service representative regarding some issue I was hgavinf, and a s well trained CSR, the person on the other end of the hone line tried to end our conversation by asking if I had any other question.   Of course I have lots of questions, and I asked two: where is the end of the universe? And what is on the other side? After an awkward silence, I heard a very faintly whispered “thank you sir.” Click.

For me, infinity isn’t just a concept. It’s a tangible place.

No, I don’t travel at the speed of light. Nor do I have access to a wormhole to take me to the edge of the universe. I have what some would call a man cave.

This isn’t like any man cave you have ever seen before though. On the door is a sign, written in Chinese, that says “Captain Matt’s Magical World of Infinite Fantasy.” For short, I call it Infinity. I love Buzz Lightyear you see. And his motto is “to Infinity…and beyond!!!” When I go to my man cave, I say I’m going to infinity.

There is no television. No recliner. No sports memorabilia. It’s filled with the stuff that defines me. Stuff I’ve collected over the years and like to have around me. And the entrance is guarded by two very small, but fierce, Chinese dragons.

I have a mid century swivel rocker. And a rattan chair like Morticia Addams had. And a really cool mid century barber’s chair – so sleek. And it swivels and goes up and down! These chairs surround a large white marble tulip table my mother bought in 1968. And of course there is a bar made of an old mid century record player cabinet.

That’s the seating area. There is also a work area. My office. Here resides a mid century desk, and its chair. There is an old school stereo system with turntable. And old records to play on it.

Here and there you will find book shelves and display shelves filled with the books I enjoy. And the things that remind me of something from my past. Modern sculpture. Asian art. Colored glass items. Movie memorabilia. Ship models. Jars of marbles, because it’s obvious that I’ve lost mine. There are native American artifacts. Nautical treasures. And some fabulous mid century lights – including a red spaghetti lamp. Even a few things that glow in the dark! And of course, Buzz Lightyear.

There is also a workshop area. It’s filled with projects that need to be worked on. And several storage areas. You might guess that these are filled with items awaiting a better place for display or use. And you would be right.

I don’t allow people into infinity. I’m afraid it would blow their mind. But if you ever did get a chance to go inside, you would have a much better understanding of me. And that I really haven’t lost my marbles.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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The Rental Car

Having a rental car is much like driving a new car. It is, in fact, almost brand new with only 30,000 miles on it. And it has some nice modern features. It’s fast, but don’t tell the rental company I had it over the speed limit. And it handles like a sports car. I want to believe I’m driving a Porsche.

But it’s not like having my truck. Which is in the repair shop. My tuck is full sized. And it has a very strong six cylinder engine. That just so happens to get reasonable gas mileage. And I can fill it up with a lot of stuff. My stuff. Handy stuff. The truck also sits up a tad higher, and so do I when I’m in it. So I can see the world around me. Most of the time.

I would never buy a used vehicle that has a history as a member of a fleet, or as a rental car. People like me, and some much worse, have a tendency to not treat them very well. They drive them fast. And don’t pay attention when they open doors, thus banging them into things. And if the coffee spills on the seat or floor, oh well, someone else will clean it up.   I’m not saying that renters drive the car through mud bogs every day, but the rental is not the same as your own.

That said, I have to admit that I have been very careful with this car. My truck is in the shop because I had a minor collision in it. So, I am being especially aware of the distance between me and the car in front. And of brake lights and stopping distances. I do not want to damage this car, and I am a tad timid about driving at all.

When I get my truck back, I believe that I will continue to be cognizant of my surroundings. And brake lights. And stopping distances.

Having the rental is fun, but mostly very convenient. But I’m looking forward to having my truck back. And filling it up with my stuff.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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The Phantom Camaro


Early Spring here in Georgia feels much more like mid Summer with temperatures hovering near 80 degrees and the sun shining brightly. Such lovely weather has a way of making people feel like being outdoors to have some fun. Some folks like to walk, others ride bicycles. People put the top down on their convertibles. And me, I go for a ride on my scooter.

Riding always makes me feel free and alive, but this special day for some reason I felt powerful. I’ll admit, my scooter is no Harley Davidson. Not a Honda, Kawasaki, BMW, Triumph, Indian or any other big motorcycle. It’s a scooter. But bigger than those little bitty things you see zipping in and out of traffic in the French and Italian movie scenes.

Full throttle, on a flat stretch of road, I can hit 60 miles per hour. And at that speed this day I felt good. I waved at other riders, always glad to see fellow two wheel enthusiast out enjoying a ride.

I try to keep my eyes on the road ahead, but I do take time to look in the rear view mirrors as well. And that’s where I saw it. It was bright red and it was trying to catch me. Wide and low I could hear it’s engine roaring. You know, the sound that a five million cubic inch engine will make. And it was decked out with air scoops, and air dams, and bright lights. In my rearview mirror it looked like a sinuous wisp of red smoke charging toward me.

But I soon realized that it wasn’t blasting past me at a thousand miles and hour. It wasn’t even getting any closer to me. A red sports car that you can’t drive fast because the police are always looking for any excuse to pull over a red sports car that might drive fast. I was racing a Camaro, and winning!

Shortly thereafter I noticed that the Camaro was slowly inching it’s way toward me. He must had had his pedal to the metal. HaHa! And then, as we rolled along up a slight hill, he cruised very slowly past me. Checking me out. What beast was this that could keep up with his Camaro!

And as he rolled past me and I looked over, fully expecting to see Steve McQueen driving, I took a good look. Funny looking Camaro I thought. Because it turns out it wasn’t a Camaro. Chevrolet yes, Camaro no. It was a Chevrolet Spark! This thing was shorter than my scooter! I was greatly humbled. But went on to enjoy the rest of my ride.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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Christmas Fun!

The last thing I wanted for Christmas was clothes! It was so disappointing when I would get a shirt or socks or even worse, underwear for my Christmas present. Why couldn’t I have a Red Ryder BB gun? Or a new Stingray bike with a banana seat? Something fun. It was always something practical. I guess it had something to do with my parents living through the great Depression.

As I got older I began to appreciate the clothes a little more. Especially shoes. But I still yearned for something fun. So, as an adult I make a point of giving fun presents. Not so much toys or things to play with. But things that are less than utilitarian. I like to give art in one of its many forms. I like to receive art too, and once in a while I do. People tell me it’s wrong to give others a gift that is something I would like, or that I would like that person to have instead of something that they actually want. Maybe. But Christmas isn’t really about making a list of things you want and expecting family and friends to buy and deliver said list of items. It’s about giving. And I give from my heart.

This year, considering how warm, hell, hot it is outside, I should have given water skis to everyone! But I gave art. In a couple of cases I went with something practical, bending all my rules. But only because I knew someone needed something practical. But I tossed in a little art as well. It’s just the way I am.

I noticed today as I ran a few errands that the bank wasn’t crowded. Neither was the drug store. And I think the post office was even closed when I got there. But holy smokes, the parking lot of the doc in the box emergency center was packed! Just like a department store on black Friday!

On my way our of the neighborhood I had seen some kids, probably not much older than seven or eight, riding brand new dirt bikes. In the road. Oh boy! Maybe it was the kids who got all the fun toys, the skateboards, trampolines, dirt bikes, pogo sticks and firearms who were there at the emergency center..

I could have saved them a lot of trouble by giving them art. And their parents could have saved the day by giving them socks and shorts. But part of Christmas is happy and fun and sometimes you just have to give the kids the fun stuff. And that’s kids of all ages. But having fun doesn’t mean tossing care and common sense out the window! The little kid who wanted the BB gun was told repeatedly, you will shoot your eye out kid! And damn if he didn’t bounce a BB off himself and break his glasses!

I like fun. I need more of it. But I still keep my eyes peeled for trouble.

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Gassed Up Adventure!

A full tank of gas promises unlimited adventure. An empty tank promises another kind of adventure. A kind that is more like orienteering your way through an alligator infested swamp than meandering through museums in Manhattan.

The gas gauge on my scooter isn’t always real accurate. Much like the speedometer. To know how much fuel I have takes a little bit of mental math. How many trips have I made since I filled up, and how long were they? It’s generally not too hard and I pretty much know how to interpret the gauge. And how far I can push my luck. If I open the cap of the tank and look in only to see that it’s bone dry, I put gas in it. On the other hand, if I can see even a drop I know I’m good for a few miles. Hadn’t thought about it much until the other day.

It was Tuesday and my regular day to go to my antique shop. Nice day, I’ll take the scooter. I looked at the gauge and it read full. I knew I’d made a trip or two. Short ones. I wasn’t worried. In a rush to get there I rode with the throttle wide open all the way. Burning fuel like there was no tomorrow. It was one of those rides where I pretend I’m riding a space ship.

Driving along I watched as the fuel gauge moved. Fast, and a lot. Dang. How far had those two trips been? Oh. Two round trips to work. Gulp.

By the time I got to the shop the gauge was looking like a quarter tank. That will get me home. It better. There are no gas stations between here and there. I poked around at the shop and finally got ready to ride home. I looked into the tank. A drop was visible. But I couldn’t remember going this far on that drop before.

All the way I took my time. A leisurely ride, more like a slow boat to China. You get a different feel for the road at a slower speed. And you can spend more time looking around at the scenery. I seemed to be the only one on the road so going slow was ok.

The gauge dropped into the red zone when I was still about ten miles out. This is where I knew I could go five miles. But what about ten? The traffic was picking up. I was having visions of running out of gas and having to push the bike to the house or a gas station. Even worse, I had visions of running out of gas and getting run over by a car as the scooter came to a sudden dead stop. Pushing was a better vision, but not up hill.

Finally I arrived at an intersection with two gas stations. Getting to one required a left turn across a busy intersection. The other was on my right. If I ran out of gas in the intersection making the left turn it could get messy. I took the chance and rolled into the station and up to a pump. When I opened the cap of the tank, yeah, right, bone dry.

Gassed up and ready to roll I was off on a new adventure. The rocket ride! That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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Beach Music

My dad had this to say about his 50th high school reunion: it was full of a lot of old people.  He didn’t consider himself to be old. Just the others. His contemporaries. And I’m sure he’d feel the same today at his 70th gathering. When I went to the concert featuring a band popular in the 60s and 70s, I felt the same way. The audience was a bunch of old folks. With a young whippersnapper, me, in the middle of it all.

The band was The Tams. I don’t know how famous they might be globally, but in these parts they have a following almost as dedicated as those fanatical Deadheads. My wife is a big fan and spent many of her college aged evenings in the presence of the band.

The Tams play what we call Carolina beach music. And the audience is supposed to shag to the music. That’s a dance. In case you weren’t sure what shagging is. In these parts.

The Tams can best be described as a group of men who sing and do synchronized dance steps while being supported by a group of men who play instruments. Drums, guitars, horns, rhythm and of course a bass fiddle.

The opening act was just the band. One of them even sang. All the while the audience was busy setting up lawn chairs, eating barbeque, and hitting beach balls into the air.

And then came The Tams. They were all wearing white suits and white tam-o’-shanters. Thus the name I suppose. In spite of Mick Jagger still prancing around the stage at his age, it turns out that the music business is really a young mans game with the fast pace of the music and the synchronized dancing. What I noticed about this group, and they weren’t trying to hide it, was that they were really the sons of the original Tams. Those dudes would be nearly 75 now.

Throughout the show I kept expecting James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, to leap out onto the stage and I’ll b damned if he didn’t come out when the Tams sang an inspired version of I Feel Good. They also sang Shout, like we heard in the movie Animal House. They did the Love Train while they swayed through the audience with a line of enthused dancers. And for the oldsters among us, they sang Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy.

And all the while, all the old peeps were having a lot of fun. Around 9:30 I noticed a serious reduction in the crowd. Past their bedtime? Or were they off to another party? I don’t know, but the next time The Tams come to town, I’ll Be There. I’ll Be Around.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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