May 28, 2005

The other day, E.S. and I were watching Antiques Roadshow, a television program in which unsuspecting people bring possessions they think might be valuable to be appraised on national television. I’ve seen the show only a handful of times, but, as far as I can tell, generally one of two things happens: either somebody brings some random thing her grandmother gave her once to keep her quiet when she was a mewling eight-year-old and it turns out to be worth tens of thousands of dollars, or somebody brings something he bought in an antique store for $250, thinking he was cleverly putting one over on the store owner, and it turns out to be worth $12.

The best part of the episode E.S. and I were watching came when a woman brought in her dead husband’s guitar. It was a Martin and turned out to be a very rare model and in pristine condition, so the appraiser suggested she could get as much as $35,000 for it at auction. She smiled and said that was nice to know, but that she wasn’t going to sell it, because the memory of her dead husband was too dear to her. She said it in a way that made me believe it, too; she didn’t play guitar at all, but it was obvious she was telling the truth.

I turned to E.S. and we had the following conversation:

FAUSTUS: Honey, if I die and it turns out that some worthless-seeming tchotchke I have lying around would get $35,000 at auction, I want you to sell it in an instant.

E.S.: No. I won’t care how much it would get at auction. I’ll want to keep it forever, so I’ll always have something to remember our love by.


FAUSTUS: Okay, what I actually mean is, if you die and it turns out that some worthless-seeming tchotchke you have lying around would get $35,000 at auction, I’m going to sell it in an instant.

E.S.: Why are you so unromantic?

FAUSTUS: I wonder how much this chair is worth.

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13 Responses to The other day, E.S. and

  1. Brian says:

    If this were an episode of Law and Order, E.S. would have you autograph a dozen copies of Gay Haiku and then violently murder you, thus causing their value to skyrocket.

  2. brian w says:

    One thing I always found interesting about Antiques Roadshow is that in the US version, the appraiser tells the person how much the item would be worth if they wanted to sell it, while in the UK version they tell the owner the item’s value for the purposes of properly insuring it.

    It’s kind of telling, init?

  3. Jess says:

    You’re such a character. šŸ™‚

    I liked the show when the guy brought an Indian (er, “Native American”) blanket that didn’t look like much and turned out to be worth a bazillion dollars (I think that was the exact word the appraiser used–bazillion). It looked like something one would find draped over the back of a dusty couch somewhere in Oklahoma, but it turned out to be quite rare. In a case like that–life-changing money–it’s gone. A few hundred bucks? Nah. Love wins out. A few hundred thousand? That’s when I say to the air, “I love you and miss you, honey,” and hand it over to the nearest auctioneer.

  4. i. bendito says:

    Looks like E.S.’ mama didn’t raise no fool.

  5. chris says:

    i’m trying to resolve this romanticism in ES and the $$ greed in Faustus with the incident over the wedding plans. Hard to believe ES is the same man who just watned to tell your friends about the wedding instead of engraved invites.

    this is what us psychologists call cognitive disonance. this is what Tylenol calls a marketing opportunity.

  6. Brian: As you know, I have already had a similar thought, albeit without the Antiques Roadshow angle. But your version is much more elegant.

    brian w: I have never seen the UK version. How many people do you suspect actually go on to insure their tchotchkes, and how many to sell them?

    Jess: Yes, the Navajo-blanket episode was the best. And you are a man after my own heart.

    i. bendito: It looks like that, doesn’t it? And yet . . .

    eliot: Thank you. You understand why I had to remove the evidence. I have always loved you, too.

    chris: What do you think Tylenol is paying me for?

  7. James says:


    Unsettling enough, my mother just left me a message telling me about some creepy toy she had as a child that she thinks may be worth something. If, after this, I check my e-mail and find a third reference to the Antiques Roadshow within a five minute timespan, the universe may implode.

  8. birdfarm says:

    I snagged a houseful of moldering antiques when my parents moved out of their house into an “assisted living” apartment. I thought these items would help me remember Granny/Mom/Dad/my childhood, but now they just remind me of recent parties where people spilled things on them.

    My conclusion: old photos are the best way to remember people and times long gone; old chairs are the best way to finance exotic foreign travel.

  9. Mike says:

    This is totally OT, but I enjoy rereading entries like “Faustus Attends an Orgy” and “Faustus is Filmed in a Pornographic Movie” now that I have a face to go with them. Not that I didn’t enjoy reading them the first time, mind you… never mind.

  10. Book Worm says:

    A word of caution about “Antiques Roadshow” and other “reality” shows: editing. Those 60 minutes have been shorn of their dull spots — which makes them so much more interesting than my life or yours.

    It even happens on the news:

  11. I saw that same episode! What about that butt ugly jug that woman had that was worth $50,000 or something like that???

    Actually the best one ever was this one woman who had bought this table at a yard sale for like $35 and turned out that it was worth about $200,000. Then they showed her selling it at auction for over $500,000. Made me sick.

  12. farmboyz says:

    C and I have had the exact same conversation. I know that if I die first, my entire depression glass collection will go out with the trash. If he goes first, his entire CD collection will be tossed by me. The stranger or neighbor who gets to the curb before the trashman will be delirious with good fortune. Romanticism overcome by limited space.

  13. Sounds like something I would say, that “Priceless item” would be gone in an instant.


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