Although there is some debate as to whether it was Phineas Taylor Barnum or another who coined the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” the expression rings true to this day.
Last week while procrastinating, rather than writing a new column, I found myself perusing the digital pages of eBay. I wasn’t necessarily wanting to buy anything but just looking to waste time and shirk some scribing responsibilities. I’m doing this at risk of incurring the wrath of this paper’s editor by testing his definition of a deadline. And if you remember your comic book newspaper editors like The Daily Planet’s, Perry White, screaming at Clark, Lois and Jimmy or cigar chomping, J. Jonah Jameson, at the Daily Bugle bellowing at Peter Parker, you know the risk I was taking. Yelling while cigar chomping is very intimidating. I hope this editor doesn’t take up cigar chomping.
Anyway, to get back to my story, I’m sitting at my desk (okay, sitting on my couch since I’m not afforded a desk) flipping through page after page of items up for bid or sale on eBay. Though, again, not searching for anything in particular, I begin to notice some really odd stuff being offered. I mean, really odd. I’m intrigued; a quest for the weird is begun.
Nicknamed “America’s Yard Sale,” nearly anything imaginable can be found on this website. Scarier still, not only do people offer the bizarre for sale, there are scads of folks eager to buy. Allow me to expound:
Many items up for bid appear to have food as a focus while others seem to appeal to our obsession with celebrity. Still others managed to meld the two attractions into offerings too good for some to pass up.
There was the visage of the Virgin Mary, encrusted in a grilled cheese sandwich that was not only offered for sale but bought for $28,000. The blend of cheese in the sandwich was not noted but I suppose this wasn’t sold to an epicurean, anyway.
Additional toasted miens included Michael Jackson, Conan O’Brian and Kenny Chesney among others. If you’re adversed to gluten, several vegetarian celebrity selections were available including, but not limited to, a fried okra resembling Oprah Winfrey (Okra Winfrey? Really?) and potato chips sporting the likenesses of Elvis Presley and Renee Zellweger.
Continuing the celebrity/food vein, there was sold for $1,200, a Dorito chip that looked like the Papal tiara. A hunk of gum that was spat out by Britney Spears at Wembley Stadium in 2000 went for $14K and half-eaten French toast left behind at some eatery by Justin Timberlake was snatched up by a fan for the reasonable sum of just over a thousand bucks. I don’t know if these treasures were bought for consumption or display, but either way, eww.
Another oddity offered for sale was a polygraph chair. Fun for first dates, I’d guess. There was a lock of some nondescript, ordinary dude’s hair that sold for around a buck but postage was not included. A fully stocked, mortician’s make-up case was offered to give one a make-over to die for and then there was a fully intact hornet’s nest. Hornets not included.
Advertising space is always at a premium and the intrepid sellers on eBay are more than willing to offer unique opportunities. To wit: space to place advertisements on a new-born baby’s clothing and accoutrements, though ads on the actual baby itself was not allowed. The winning bid was from a casino for around a grand and after this success, the parents decided to offer this as a monthly lease to any other interested parties.
For more permanent advertising space, there have been numerous offers from people to have tattoos placed on various body parts. For the winning bid, your company’s message could be emblazoned on a belly of sufficient proportion, a shaved head, forehead, cleavage and even a “big plump butt.” Hmmm, an asinine idea?
There are many more, how should I put it, intriguing items to be found in this eclectic compendium of curiosities but space and my constitution limit my desire to delve much deeper for much longer. So, whether it was P.T. Barnum, or not, who said a sucker was born every minute, seeing what was presented for purchase and, more so, that there were buyers who’d spent cold, hard cash for these peculiarities, I’ll have to agree with the sentiment.
This way to the egress.