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Bargains so good it must be a crime

THE BALTIMORE SUN

I'm lucky. I'm married to a guy who likes to shop. While other women browse alone, my husband is unflagging.

(He says it's hereditary; his mother is a marathon shopper.)

Anyway, the guy likes to shop, so I guess I should not have been surprised when he disappeared one Saturday morning and returned in a shopping lather.

Our community police were auctioning confiscated merchandise, and the bargains my husband found there had caused his poor heart to race.

Me? I can shop anywhere and under any circumstances. Recently, a storekeeper had to demand that I come in out of a lightning storm and stop browsing her display of iron garden ornaments.

"What is the matter with you?!" she asked, incredulous.

But generally I try to stay away from stolen merchandise.

I don't shop at trucks parked on the side of the road, and I don't buy CDs, Oakley sunglasses or Rolex watches from people who carry their wares in briefcases.

But back to the police auction.

My husband took a break from his bidding long enough to call his friend Joe. "Come quick," my husband told him. "And bring your checkbook."

Joe has his own shopping demons. He tells his wife he is going out for gas for the lawnmower and then cruises yard sales.

He's brought home so many skis, Weber grills and bikes that his wife has threatened to cart them all over to my house because in my neighborhood, that kind of stuff isn't sold in a yard sale, it is stolen from your yard.

Anyway, my husband and his friend Joe returned to the police auction, ostensibly to see if any of our former bikes, skis or grills were up for bid.

Failing that, my husband bid on a gold bracelet for me. The bidding was at $30 when he dropped out. (You know, some women never know what they are worth to their husbands in actual dollars and cents.)

Next item up for bid was 12 pairs of brand new boxer shorts, still in their packaging. To my husband's delight, they were his size. And at $12.50, he was the winning bidder. (I am tempted to believe only bidder.)

When he left the auction, his friend Joe was looking hard at a police cruiser that was going for $250.

My husband returned home in childlike triumph with his boxer shorts. "I got them for $1 a piece," he bragged. "And there's a bullet hole in them, too."

I asked him what he thought the neighbors would say -- let alone any mental health professionals -- if they knew he bought his underwear at a police auction without checking to see if the bullet hole sales pitch was true. (It was not.)

He offered in his defense the fact that he had not purchased the $250 police cruiser.

"I was thinking that we should just park it out front," he said.

Later that day, after yard work and a shower, he modeled his purchase for his long-suffering wife and children, and confessed that he feared the pilfered boxers carried contagious larceny.

Whereupon he yanked a drawer out of my jewelry box and made like he was going to dump its contents into his new boxers.

Our daughter rolled her eyes and left in disgust. But our 16-year-old son, who follows his father everywhere -- not out of love but out of curiosity -- was laughing so hard he nearly cracked a rib.

I didn't have the heart to tell the boy that there is evidence in our family that shopping is hereditary.

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