Falling Back in Love with Ebay

Is it just me or is this Sesame Street Magazine cover from November, 2001 in very poor taste?

Is it just me or is this Sesame Street Magazine cover from November, 2001 in very poor taste?

I remember discovering Ebay along with the rest of humanity sometime long, long ago, when the world was a much different place. For starters, there was no Ebay in it! Then Ebay came along and suddenly a dreary, black and white, Ebayless world suddenly radiated glittering promise.

Ebay was no mere zeitgeist-capturing business that dramatically transformed the way we consume and collect and view our belongings and their value in the world. No, it was goddamn magic. In an instant, anything your heart desired became available and all you had to do was outbid everybody else in the world for it. How miraculous! How empowering! How legitimately life and culture-changing. 


I loved Ebay back in the late 1990s, when I possessed something that I very fuzzily, vaguely recall was known as “disposable income” because I was a single man living in an affordable city whose rent was still being paid by the financial aid people so I could use this amazing website to obtain all of the things that I desperately wanted as a disadvantaged child.

In a frenzy of empty nostalgia, I purchased a whole bunch of packs of baseball and football and basketball cards. It didn’t really matter that I didn’t collect sports cards anymore and saw more or less my entire youthful sports super-fandom, and accompanying hobby as a collector of cards and memorabilia, as a phase I was conclusively finished with. No, I just loved the ritual of it, empty and expensive as it might have always ultimately proved, because heaven knows my luck was just as rotten as a 23 year old desperately trying to relive the rare happy moments of my childhood as it was back when I was a kid who always got the crummiest cards. 

I went through cycles of being intensely plugged into Ebay and its myriad wonders. I bought a lot of garbage lost several moves ago but I also bought some things that I treasure to this day. It was a savvy move buying one of Richie Tenenbaums’ tennis trophies from a Royal Tenenbaums prop sale, although I wish I had splurged and bought Royal Tenenbaum’s headstone. That would be the jewel of my collection. I’ve also bought original paintings of Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids, only one I’ve had to sell during one of the many lean times. And I’ve got to say I’m pretty happy that I went ahead and bought all of disgraced boy band Svengali Lou Pearlman’s college diplomas, at least one of which popped up in a biography of Pearlman I was reading and is probably, like so much about the late star-maker, a fraud of some sort. 


That said, I’ve gone years using Ebay sparingly, if at all. I don’t have so much in the way of disposable income these days. Everything goes to pay for bills or the ever-increasing costs of my growing family but I have found myself returning to Ebay in a big way as of late in a way that made me remember why I fell in love with it in the first place. 

One of the great joys in my life involves reading to my four year old son Declan at night. As some of y’all may know, I’m a bit of a Sesame Street obsessive and Ebay puts five very full decades of Sesame Street books and encyclopedias and almanacs and dictionaries and magazines at my fingertips for very affordable prices. 

It’s been wonderful getting back in touch with that long lost feeling of satisfaction and excitement at seeing a package left at the door, or, even better, multiple packages of every shape and size waiting for you when you return home from a long day of work. There’s a cornucopia of great children’s literature out there executed with humor, craft and care and designed to teach important moral lessons in addition to entertaining. 


With a whole lot of help from Ebay, I’m building a formidable children’s library that we’ll be able to use with our three month old son Harris in the months and years ahead as well. 

The first time I fell in love with Ebay, it was because it helped me fill some weird holes in my heart left by my traumatic childhood. This time around I’m utilizing it as a wonderful and essential tool to try to help me give Declan the childhood that I did not have and desperately wanted.


Yes, Ebay has been there for me at various stages in my life, like a version of the Giving Tree that was actually more about taking (gotta make money somehow!) but is an extraordinarily useful institution all the same. 

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