Take a guess: what's the biggest social event of the year at Monterey? No, not a party, not a dance, not a golf tournament. Okay, I'll tell you. It's a used goods sale that lasts four hours and occupies the thoughts, commands the energy, and lights up the faces of almost the entire female population for the better part of a month. (Some of the men, too.)
Preparation begins with the collection of goods in the form of discards from the households of the community. A skirt, a scale, a tray, six unmatched glasses, framed art, tablecloths, a necklace, a lamp, a single golf club or an entire set, a chair, a dresser, a cooking pot. Whatever you have that you no longer need or want goes to the collection point and then gets sorted into categories and stored until set-up day.
"Shopping" takes place a day ahead on the part of the workers, who discover treasures they never knew they wanted at prices that defy reason. Every household in the community boasts at least one spectacular buy from the Second Time Around Sale. The big day, the first Saturday in February, brings in the outsiders, many of whom have been there before and come with big bags to fill. The crowd and confusion is glorious, and the quarters and dollar bills pile up in cigar boxes and apron pockets.
At twelve noon, all the leftovers disappear into bags at giveaway prices or to a charity of choice standing by for the joy of free leftovers. By one p.m. you'd never know what happened, but you do know it'll all happen again next year.