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Mychal Wilmes: Honest opinions are given with trepidation

Certain situations and controversies squeeze me like a pliers turning a rusted bolt.

The day started with an effort to throw the machine shed's metal scrap into a wagon, which would be pulled by a six-decade-old tractor to the recycler for quick cash. Non-metallic junk would be tossed into a rented and monster-sized trash bin. I was well on my way with both when four half-grown cottontail eyes glared at me in the middle of their temporary metal nest.

If I continued, the rabbits would lose their home and possibly their lives. A week or two wait wouldn't matter much to me, but in that time the cottontails would become wiser adults.

I switched to Dumpster dropping, which despite its plus size was nearly full. With the work done and conscience clear, it was time to relax.

Relaxation lasted a few precious minutes before Kathy screamed like a hair-band lead singer during an arena performance.


"Come here quick,'' she said.

My quick isn't as fast as it once was, and by the time I arrived at the car she was in the driver's seat.

"Get in,'' she commanded. "I want to get your honest opinion on something."

The brain, which had previously been stuck in neutral, slowly shifted into overdrive. I recalled that this day marked the unofficial start of West Concord's ultra-busy garage sale season. Opening day was the reason Kathy awakened and left early for parts mostly unknown to anyone other than herself. She came home with children's clothes for Elliot and a smile on her face that hinted at success. She had uncovered tremendous bargains that involved a couch, love seat, end table, a circular lawn table and four matching chairs. She also mentioned a mini-trampoline, but the attention span faded as disappointment rose.

"I thought,'' I said in a calm voice that stifled emotion, "that we got the dumpster to get rid of things and not add."

"Don't be mad,'' Kathy countered. "I want your honest opinion; if you don't like them we won't get them.''

Her negotiation skills reduced the asking price despite the furniture's like-new condition.

Honest opinions aren't my forte and especially so when the nearby seller might be offended if I don't share their taste in couches and love seats. The furniture was fine in 1970s-era deep purple with flowered cushions. I attempted a polite escape by saying that although they were quality items, we lacked the means to bring them home.


"You could use the tractor and wagon because you're taking it uptown anyway,'' Kathy said.

With fate sealed but not yet delivered, Kathy left for a distant commitment. A couch is always much heavier than it looks.

With a barking back from lifting twisted metal off the wagon, it would take a miracle or a saintly Samaritan to get the couch aloft. At that moment, passerby and friend John noticed the tractor and wagon and stopped to ask what was going on. The rather long-winded tale of garage shopping woe yielded assistance. John even offered to help move the new furniture into the house. I turned him down because that would be too great a sacrifice and my son-in-law and daughter could be induced to help with the promise of a free Sunday buffet at Omar's Cafe.

Both readily accepted, but when we were seated grandson Elliot reacted like someone had put broccoli on his plate.

"Oh, no, not Grandpa again,'' Elliot said. "Grandpa is soooo boring."

I disagreed with his opinion and showed displeasure with his assessment by stealing a huge strawberry from his plate.

It was time to throw my considerable weight around. I insisted that Kathy stay away from any and all garage sales for several weeks. Her response — swift and filled with truthiness — left little doubt about the worth of such a directive.

"You can't tell me what to do."


I knew that 30 years ago, but it's good to be reminded once in a while — otherwise I run the risk of becoming a dictator who may be feared but also alone and unloved.

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