by ERTEL GRAY
with ANDREW HICKS
"Crowded House once had gay sex on this mattress! And I picked it up for 30 bucks!" [SCREEN GRAPHIC: "Purchase price - $30; Sold for - $780; Profit - $750."
I am an addict. Step One is admitting you have a problem, and that’s why I’m here. I’ve recently become extremely obsessed with the ever-expanding glut of TV shows about storage unit auctions. You know, those C-level reality shows where people haggle over one-of-a-kind items with pawn shop owners, and/or people rummage around in dilapidated barns and garages, finding rusted-out treasures that I’m told are high-dollar items.
A 19th-century steam-powered vibrator? $300. Thomas Jefferson’s giant granite dangling-cross earring, yanked from Mount Rushmore after fierce protests from Quakers? Four thousand bucks all day. A rare acetate demo of John and Yoko’s blistering 22-minute version of “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am”? Actually, there are 2 million copies of THAT garbage, but I’d still pay at least three grand for the chance to own it.
This is all my fault. I’m addicted to junk. For those who remain uninitiated to shows like “Storage Wars” and “Auction Hunters,” the premise is this — every day, thousands of unclaimed storage lockers are put up for auction. Bidding is fierce, and rivalries develop instantaneously over these storage lockers, which just might be chock-full of rarities and untold riches. It’s the ultimate in Ponzi* schemes, the rule being “buy low, sell high.”
Oh sure, there’s storage units that turn out to be a bust. Apparently, SOME people don’t feel that a damp, 8′ x 10′ concrete storage locker is the best place to keep their priceless copies of Action Comics #1 and miscellaneous Aztec artifacts. But the rule of thumb in the “Storage Wars” world is, if something has intrinsic value, you put it in a glorified carport and lock that shit up with a high-school-locker Master Lock. Then forget you owe $400 for the past four months’ rent and lose your padlocked carport altogether.
Meanwhile, think of how many actual archaeologists have given up scouring the actual ruins of some long-forgotten city whose name Indiana Jones couldn’t even pronounce correctly. Honestly, you can’t blame them. Spending months at a time in some dense jungle, amid the constant threat of attack by large primates and bot flies that lay eggs in open wounds — not to mention the oppressive “jungle stench” — doesn’t help morale. Especially after you’ve spent several months with a Maybelline rouge brush, carefully and intently brushing the faint traces of dirt, layer by layer, from a couple of shards of clay pottery. And it’s Christmas Day.
Take any archaeologist who’s been inspired to unlock the mysteries of Indy movies past, and ask that archaeologist if he or she now feels cheated for having taken that career path, and I’m almost positive the answer will be a resounding FUCK YEAH. (“I’ve been out here in the jungles of Costa Rica for four MONTHS now, and not ONE fucking Nazi! No crystal skulls! It’s bullshit!”)
What the budding archaeologist fails to realize when he sets out on an Indy mission is that most of the good treasure has already been looted and sold on the black market. Now it’s somewhere in an 8 x 10 storage shed that’s in default of payment, waiting for some hulking behemoth of a man with head tattoos and Oakley shades to slowly bid it up to roughly $1,200 American.
So, in short, to any and all of you potential treasure seekers out there who might be reading this, give up dreams of Custer’s Gold. Put away the maps of Oak Island, and don’t even THINK about going near Fort Knox.
Bid on a storage unit.
You may end up with Lincoln’s personal stash of bukkake tintypes. Or, you might just end up with a fuck-ton of Tupperware. Either way, you played the game.
*Given our fascination with combining celebrity couple names, I can only conclude that — somewhere along the line — Potsi Webber and Arthur Fonzarelli, both of “Happy Days,” had a brief, albeit torrid sexual affair. The offspring, carried in Potsi’s butt for three trimesters, was the now-famous word Ponzi.