The Rusty Crusty Bike (and the man who hauled it to Chicago for me)

Last month a weekend get-away was in order.  Most of our decisions are motivated by food choices and Adam and I decided that pizza from Chicago sounded great.  So he booked a fancy hotel, we kissed the dogs goodbye, threw some clothes into a bag and hit the road.

Somewhere in Indiana we got hungry.  Not lunchtime hungry, but maybe a snack.  We have a rule of only eating at non-chain restaurants when on "vacation".  So I consulted yelp to find a snack location and it suggested a place that is supposed to have amazing pies.  On the way to the pie place we happened upon an auction.

Long story short - in no time at all I blew a whole $2 on an oil painting (which was junked together with a filing cabinet, an enormous lamp and a few other framed prints.  Adam spent $1.50 on a painting of pheasants (which pleased me because I wanted the painting as well).  About 5 other frames and prints came with that treasure.  Things were looking great.  But it was near the end of the sale and sadly only a few rows of junk remained.

Oh well.  Luckily there was a food truck so we decided to cash out, grab a pork sandwich and watch the rest of the auction.  All that was left was real junk.  I'm talking pasteboard bookshelves on their last leg, really nasty appliances.  Adam perked up when he heard someone say, "tree stand", thinking that maybe he could score a spare tree stand for the hunting cabin.  It, however, ended up being a christmas tree stand.  And not a great one.

In my opinion, even if you're not bidding, auctions are great fun.  The people watching is excellent.  It's interesting to see how much (or how little) people pay for certain items.  The fast paced yelping and calling of the auctioneers is also entertaining, especially if you have a pair with a sense of humor.

Then I saw it.  At the very end on the very last row.  An old junker bicycle.  Oh it was nothing special.  Just an old "rusty, crusty" bike probably from the sixties or seventies.  Maybe even 80's.  Blue and rusty.  Junked enough that no one would consider reviving it for it's intended purpose.  But weathered enough that I thought people would want it for a flower bed decoration.  Someone.  

The events moved very quickly.  The bookshelves went cheaply, the tree stand got grouped with an appliance, suddenly they were talking about the bike.  The auctioneer joked with a little girl that someone should buy the bike for her and she shook her head with an embarrassed smile.  We all laughed.  I can't even remember what they started the bidding it.  Probably $10 or something.  They like to overshoot to get some interest going.  No one was interested.  $5.00.  Nope.  $2.00.  Nope.  

The auctioneer gave it one more shot, "Come on, come one, who will take it.  One dollar, one dollar, one fifty,  a bill."

Someone raised their hand to bid and the other auctioneer who was watching the crowd hollered "yeeeeep".  The first auctioneer wasted no time on this last items and bellowed "SOLD".  Then he pointed right at me.


My husband, a very tall man, stared ahead for about 30 seconds then slowly turned his head to look at me.  He looked enormous.  There I was.  I had my giant everyday purse hooked over my arm, weighing me down.  In one hand I clutched my number card and in the other was the half eaten pork sandwich.  I even still had food in my mouth.  

Ya'll, he didn't even smile.  Adam slowly looked at the auctioneer, cracked his neck, and then looked at me again. 

"Um, sorry?"  I sounded sweet but any scrap of cuteness I still have in me did nothing to smooth over this situation.  

I back peddled quickly.  "Okay, we can leave it here.  I don't know what I was thinking."  ( I really didn't.)

But my husband was in no mood.  "Nope.  You better go pay.  I'll make room in the truck."

I swallowed the rest of the sandwich and said in a spirit of peace, "Hey, Adam . . . we don't HAVE to take the lamp . . . ."  But I was talking to his back.  He was already heading toward the truck.

While he hauled
  - the filing cabinet,
  - the stack of prints
  - the frames and
  - the two good oil paintings, 

I waited in line to pay my final $1.00.  Adam had taken my offer of ditching the huge lamp and had put it by someone else's junk.  To further lighten the load he gave one of the framed prints to a little girl who was eyeing the picture of a cat.

I noticed that he did not return to collect the bike.

By the time I was wheeling it to the truck Adam was moving the luggage around to make room for everything.  When I approached he finally cracked a smile.  And we laughed.

That day I learned that bikes actually take up a lot of room in the back of an SUV.  The bike went into the truck first, it's dusty, dirty, spinning wheel right right behind my head.  I wasn't happy about this and I wanted to suggest that the bike go in later but I held my tongue.  He was laughing but it definitely wasn't in my best interest to start getting bossy so quickly.  Next went in the filing cabinet.  The drawers had to come out because they were empty and old and expected to be noisy.  That took up room.  Then the paintings were stacked with the junkier stuff on the bottom. 

At this point it finally hit me that the only thing I really wanted out of the whole load of junk was the one painting.  Gulp.  Welp, it was all loaded up so too late now.  Lastly the suitcases were shoved in between everything and we hit the road.

So we drove to our romantic getaway with a dirty dusty bike and a noisy filing cabinet.  When we got to the fancy hotel (conveniently located 1 block from Michigan Avenue) and saw the valet we laughed because we knew we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies.  I told myself that even fancy valet drivers have seen it all.  Likely a SUV with a bunch of crap in it will go unnoticed.  Unfortunately when we opened the back to retrieve our luggage a filing cabinet drawer fell out.  Loudly.   The valet attendant scurried over to help and I could see him checking out our "treasures".  I tried to act like I was some sort of expert, celebrity "picker" and that we really did have valuable stuff in tow.  I made sure to fuss a little and say, "Adam be care of that painting.  I don't want it disturbed."

But we knew the truth and no doubt the parking attendant knew the truth.  But I didn't care.  There was $4.50 of fun packed into that truck.  

After all of this I decided that I HAD to do something with that stupid bike.  So I covered it in paint, glammed it up and parked it in the shop.  I think it looks pretty cute.  As for the other items:  I gave some of the frames to my antique dealer friend Doug to use when he scores actual treasures.  The filing cabinet cleaned up nicely and is actually a very useful addition to the office.  The painting I originally wanted is propped up waiting for a space on the wall.  The pheasant painting is saved for the house (whenever we get around to renovating).

And the pizza was amazing.  (So was the pork sandwich!)