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Published: May 26, 2016 6 min read
yard sale
Burke/Triolo Productions—Getty Images

Hi, my name is M.P. and I’m a tag sale victim.

Just recently a friend dragged me unwillingly to a giant tag sale in a shmancy suburb where you wouldn’t even believe what was selling for 70% off retail.

“Look at this chair,” my friend hissed, raising the seat cushion to show the designer label. “Do you know what this chair sells for? $2,200—and it’s going for $75!!!”

“It’s hardly been used!” I hissed back. My googley eyes met her googley eyes as we gasped for air at this unbelievable bargain. I bought it on the spot.

A few minutes later, when my husband saw it, he gasped too. But not in a good way. His mouth opened and closed, a few times. “What,” he sputtered, “is that?”

“It’s a chair—for our bedroom,” I beamed, still on my haute furniture high. I caressed the chair’s tufted, paisley-patterned, oversize wing-back rear. “And it was only $75!”

Fortunately, at that very moment, when my husband wanted to tell me in non-tag-sale-friendly language exactly what he thought of the chair, his best friend was standing next to him, with a smirk on his face and a thought bubble over his head:

“Say it, bro! Say it! Trash that !@#$ chair, for the sake of every man who’s ever endured the hell of tag sales!”

My husband and I struggled to maintain our dignity and a false aura of calm in front of our friends. Well, I did. My husband was still bug-eyed and huffing like a wild horse or something.

“He’ll appreciate it more when he sees it in the context of your bedroom,” my friend whispered to me.

I nodded, but knew I’d catch hell the minute my husband and I were alone in the car, driving home. And I did.

Didn’t we just agree that we wanted to avoid splurges while we focused on our hoped-for summer trip?

Didn’t we still have to pay for camp?

And what about that teensy problem with the IRS notice from 2014 that had just landed, intimating that somehow we owed a few bucks on our state taxes—a mystery we were still sorting out with our accountant?

Was this the time to buy a chair, let alone a frickin’ ugly chair? he griped. “That thing belongs on the set of Downton Abbey. NOT a New York apartment. What were you THINKING?”

“It’s really c-comfy,” I sobbed into a hanky. “I w-wanted it to put by the w-window.”

The worst was yet to come.

When we finally wrassled the damn thing out of the car, into the lobby and into our apartment—at 11 o’clock at night, of course—it wouldn’t fit down the hallway of our apartment, let alone make the tight turn into our bedroom.

To say my husband glared at me does not convey the full nuclear fallout of his “I told you so” expression, as we dragged the stupid, overstuffed thing back down the hallway, scattering paint chips, into the living room, where it sat glowering at us.

Conveniently, it matched none of our furniture.

That didn’t matter to our son, who climbed into the chair and pronounced it quite comfortable. The cat curled on top of the extremely wide wings of the wing back and refused to give us an opinion.

Now the starry Cinderella effect of the shmancy tag sale faded, and I was left staring at a pumpkin of a chair, upholstered in some kind of chenille, corduroy swirl. It looked like we were expecting a giant to visit and sit by our hearth and warm his large feet.

“Maybe we can take the legs off and try again in the morning?” I said.

“Maybe you can sell it on eBay,” my husband said, and went off to bed.

I’d like to say that I sat in the chair and had a philosophical revelation about my stupidity, but I didn’t. I just stood there and stared at it, marveling at how ill-suited it was to our home, how it clashed with the rug—and that my husband was right: Something happened at that tag sale, and I temporarily lost my mind.

It reminded me of vacation calories. You know: You’re on vacation and eat all kinds of stuff, semi-believing that those calories won’t add up. Well, we all have our special brand of denial, and mine—apparently—reaches its full potential in the presence of used furniture and chipped china in a poorly lit church hall. It wasn’t the amount of money I spent, per se (although I won’t argue that $75 could have gone toward better causes). It was the fantasy behind the splurge—of vaulted ceilings and book-lined walls with those sliding ladder things—that gave me tag-sale blindness.

I’m not sure there’s a cure, though. As I type I’m actually sitting in the offending chair, which has found a temporary home in the corner of our living room, far removed from everything it doesn’t match. If we decide to keep it, I’m realizing it will need an ottoman. Preferably something in a solid color to tone down that paisley. Maybe I can find one at a….