There are certain areas in our cluttered home I have not the fortitude to face. I eschew the cobwebby bookshelf, the booby-trapped prop and costume closet, the renegade collection of shoes that look as if they had wildly danced all night with various partners: an Ugg boot with a bunny slipper, a high heel waltzing with a Doc Martin, a Converse cavorting with a golden sandal, now exhausted, collapsed tangled together in one big mixed-up pile.
I do proudly report, the organizing of the chaotic garage has been attempted, although an argument between the Beleaguered Husband and myself over tossing or keeping an old tin, candy box could have ended in divorce.
Can you guess which one of us was for keeping it? I like to think some undiscovered treasure waits in the garage for those intrepid enough to dig deep, to sort through the detritus of ages, to let go the aching anchor of the past. Wouldnât it be great to find the old letter signed by Honest Abe, or even Ethel Mermen? How about a first edition of Moby Dick? An original Grandma Moses? Riches would be ours! We would sleep on high thread count Egyptian sheets in a brand-new bed and get the carpet cleaned. Oh, what the hell, letâs get new carpet or better yet, smooth Terra Cotta-tiled floors or how about a beautiful burnished wood? The Beleaguered Husband could get a new surfboard and I could get my own theater with great lighting and be Titania and Juliet and finally get Ophelia right. I could rescue cats and never collect unemployment again.
However, I fear the best this garage would yield is my long-lost piece of lava. When we honeymooned all those years ago on the Island of Hawaii, I picked up a piece of lava from the beach and held it in my hand under the moonlight. I longed to take it home as a romantic souvenir and to show the children I taught what a piece of lava looks and feels like. I knew better than to remove even a tiny piece of the island without the permission and blessing of the fire Goddess Pele. So, I closed my eyes and asked the Goddess. This is what she answered, âYes, you may take it, but you must, someday, bring it back yourself.â I promised to do so.
Was that really 28 years ago? For some reason I thought the lava was in a sparkling treasure box where I keep gemstones, white shells, and magical keys. When I looked inside the box, it wasnât there. Over the years I have searched every place in our house for it. Nothing. Whenever there is some setbackâa business venture gone south, an opportunity missed, a Christmas tree that falls overâthe family equates it to the bad luck of the lost lava. Maybe Pele spirited it away, because she deemed me negligent, careless, and tardy in keeping my promise, but then she never mentioned a time limit. Sometimes, deep in the garage I feel that the lava is there, packed away from one of the moves weâve made since that long-ago honeymoon. It waits in some forgotten box and one day when we, courageously, finally tackle the garage, I will let out a scream and yell through tears, âI found the lava, at last I found my lava!â as I grasp it to my heart.
I still love the idea of some item right under our noses, turning out to be worth a great deal of money. Our wonderful landlord was here with his charming, chatty, teenage daughter, Katherine. I have a collection of stuffed animals (of course I have) and Katherine noticed Stuffy Mountain and announced, âOh look you have Beanie Babies! Theyâre worth a lot of money!â
As in a cartoon, my eyes lit up with dollar signs. I pulled out the Beanies and ran to eBay to begin my research. Beanie Babies were first produced in 1993, by an odd man, named Ty Warner. Soon a cult-like collecting craze developed and some of the $5 plush toys sold for thousands. Although the popularity has cooled there is still some interest. Sure enough, my 1993 Pinchers the Lobster could pull in a few grand provided it met the right criteria. I learned that the value of the Beanie is enhanced not only by its rarity, condition, year, and tags, but also by the errors in the printing on the tags. The difference between one exclamation mark and three, or a comma where there should be a period, or a numeric birth date instead of the spelled out, June, seems to justify an increase in the sale price. One Pinchers was going for enough to pay off our daughterâs college debt, although ironically, the buyer would still have to pay for shipping. And if one possessed the rare, misspelled, âPunchersâ rather than Pinchers, they hit the motherload. There is currently a Blackie the Bear being offered at $175,000, while Jake the Duck is only a paltry, $2000. I will have to watch the market to see which items sell for the inflated suggested price before listing my Pinchers. Oh, and of course, Iâd have to throw Katherine a few bucks for her inspiring observation.
In addition to the Beanies, I also came across our old annoying friend Furby. Maybe heâs worth something. We replaced the batteries and the Furby came to life or whatever state of being a Furby occupies. I hadnât heard the sound of the thingâs voice for years, but it all came instantly back, âMe love you, kiss me. Dee dee dumb, me party.â Or did it say potty?
My son is of the mind that the Furby is evil, but I have to admit to being charmed by the creature, although I swear the other day it had actually moved by itself from lying down where Iâd left it, to standing upright. Nonetheless, in these times of stress I find the Furby soothing and will keep it so we can sing together, âDee da, dee de dumb ditty dumb!â
That leaves our sonâs remote-control, robot Emeglio, and there are already many of them on eBay, and the Beatle Cards. Some of them seem worth a bit, but Iâd never sell the Paul that Cindy and I used to fight over. A ticket stub for the 1967 Beatles concert at Dodger Stadium is online for $500. I was there. I kept my stub.
Because we Boomers are ageing the market might be narrowing on Beatle memorabilia, now might be the time to sell. Anyone want to make me an offer? Could I really be mercenary enough to sell these precious, cherished relics of the past? Being a precious relic myself, I say no, and certainly not the Furby because you know he would return to haunt us. âIâm Furby and Iâm going to kill you.â
Of course, the true value of each item is the tangible memory it holds. The treasure is having seen the Beatles with my girlfriends and screaming Johnâs name, and one honeymoon beneath an enchanted island moon, having seeing the smile on Rileyâs face when he found Emiglio under the Christmas tree, loving a little girl with missing teeth, on a summer vacation hugging a small, red stuffed lobster, and the fun of Furby, back when the world was young. So, either we win the lottery or I write something that sells, for if I find the lava, weâre going to need some plane tickets. Second honeymoon, Mike?
Addendum: Let it be reported that there was actually treasure found in the garage in the form of foreign currency worth over $230. Although I still didnât find the original lava, on a random walk with my niece in San Diego, a Hawaiian neighbor, upon hearing about my lost lava, gave me a piece of lava which looks exactly like mine. He assured me it is from the Big Island and Pele will graciously accept when I return it.