Maxed Out 

Digital reprieve for a lifetime collection

By G.D. Maxwell

"You got any records yer gonna sell?"

It was late in the morning, Saturday morning. I’d been dealing with strangers for the better part of five hours, ever since I began to drag tables, shelves, chairs, boxes, and what felt like tons of gewgaws out onto the driveway at seven freakin’ AM.

Our semi-annual garage sale, the forth or fifth we’d held, had entered a period of lull. Multitasking the morning away, pricing on the fly, keeping an eye on suspicious characters, bartering for quarters with persistent Ukrainian women, forcing every purchaser to take their complimentary issue or six of old New Yorker magazines, and shooing unruly children away from fragile glassware, the question caught me off guard.

"Uh – no. Well, yes, yes I do but they’re all inside," I eventually answered.

"Are you gonna sell ’em?" The guy asking was on a quest for vinyl. He’d walked past the other treasures and was ready to keep walking to the next garage sale.

"I’m not sure," I stammered. "I haven’t decided. Yeah, maybe."

The truth was, I’d pretty much decided. My Perfect Partner and I, escaping from possible life sentences, were leaving Toronto in a few months and heading to Whistler. We were going to be travelling light and didn’t want to store any more worldly goods than those we just couldn’t bring ourselves to part with, a list that, for me, was topped by music, art, some books and a ’76 BMW motorcycle.

But really, all those records? Records? The records lived on two floors, filling all available shelf space not given over to books. How many records? Who knew? With the exception of a dozen or so lost when a lowlife friend was arrested and his landlady confiscated everything in his apartment, including the records he’d borrowed from me, and another handful appropriated by an ex-girlfriend who thought much more of them than she did of me, I still had every album I’d ever bought or traded for. Lots.

"Well, can I look at them then?" His persistence was stronger than my fatigue.

"I guess so," I said, leading him inside.

With fingers working like guided missiles he automatically slipped a copy of The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request out of the first shelf he knelt to look at. I felt an icepick slide into my heart.

"No! Not that one. I can’t sell that one; sorry," I said, perhaps too stridently, an edge of panic in my voice. C’mon though, this was the original release of the album, the one with the great 3-D cover of Mick and the boys in their wizard’s finest, dancing from pose to pose as you changed the angle between the cover and your eyes.

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