A few years ago, when we first moved back to the California from Australia, I seemed to spend a lot of time being talked into doing things by my friend Mark, who was a big eBay fan at the time. He once bid on a jar of dirt or bag of air (or bag of dirt?) and some newspaper in Tennessee or somewhere interviewed him about it. Anyway, somehow, he talked me into selling a pair of socks in the auction site.
Not just any socks, but really dirty, stinky socks. Apparently, there are fetishists out there who pay big money for this kind of thing. You know, like the Japanese vending machines that sell used underpants. Go search eBay, you'll find dozens of listings for soiled socks, pantie hose, etc. Here's an example.
So I wore these Costco tube socks for about a week straight and finally, when they'd reached a whole new level of stink, I borrowed Mark's digital camera, took a few shots, sealed them in a ziplock bag and posted them. I wish I would have recorded the description, because it was it was by far my finest hour as a writer, the stirring tale of a young, fit surfer eager to buy a new wetsuit, so he was selling his old, stinky socks to raise funds. The only fragment I still have is:
"These socks smell great.... and I wear them jogging (a lot)."And I kept the posting confirmation:
|Congratulations! Your item has been successfully listed on eBay.|
No one bid for four days. Then, I got an email. It came from... I'll change his ebay handle to protect the innocent. It came from WEIRDOSOCKLIKER32:
Hi,After consulting with Mark, I responded:
Kewl socks, I am lkg for very smelly un-washed socks - Do you offer that option ?
Thx a lot
If you want very smelly, un-washed socks, that's what I'll provide.Instantly, he wrote back:
Really kewl, Thx !Then he bid. The next day, someone else bid. My socks were up to $5.00. Apparently, WEIRDOSOCKLIKER32 didn't like the competition, so he wrote again the next day:
Count me In !!
Thanks a lot !Note that he signed the email with his real name (I changed it, of course), apparently trying to humanize his creepy attempts at circumventing eBay to get a pair of dirty socks. I wasn't all that moved, so I responded:
Can I buy now ?
How much would ask for ?
- Burt Reynolds
No problem.That night, bidding leaped to $20, but the next morning, tragedy struck. An email from eBay:
I think I'm just going to let the bidding do it's thing. Good luck!
Dear Denis Faye,So that was a bummer. But twenty bucks is twenty bucks, so I immediately appealed the ruling. They wrote back with a 50-page-legalese email that can basically be summed up as follows:
We appreciate that you chose eBay to list the following item:
1674313375 Used men's sweat socks
However, your listing contained material that is inappropriate for eBay's general categories. Therefore, we have ended this listing, and all fees have been credited to your account.
In determining whether an item is appropriate for eBay's general categories, we consider the overall content of the listing, including pictures and text. The listing cited above contained the following information:
"These socks smell great. [...]and I wear them jogging (a lot)."
This type of information is considered extraneous and would therefore not be permitted in an auction listing posted in our general categories.
Dear Denis Faye,Later, I learned that the trick to selling stuff like this is to include the words, "washed to eBay standards" and they'll let you off the hook. So for example, you can post:
Love, The eBay Team
i wore these socks 4 years str8t. The only time i took them off was 1 time when i was starving, so i 8 them. They worked their way through my digestive system in pretty good shape -- actually maybe a little cleaner than when they went in -- so i put them back on 2 keep my feet warm @ my new job, in which i spend the whole day stomping, without shoes, on the decomposing carcasses of rats and seagulls. And on poop.That would be fine, and you'd probably make a tidy bundle.
Now i'm selling them to u, unwashed. Please hurry up & bid before they fly away by themselves. (These socks washed to eBay standards.)
Anyway, Mark wanted to see this through, so I wrote Burt back:
Hello Burt Reynolds -Notice that I used my real name. I didn't want to, but because I was now operating outside the secure umbrella of eBay, we were communicating directly via email. It's not like he knew my home address or anything. I figured the worst he could do was send me a mean email or a nasty JPEG. And while I was sure that Burt Reynolds probably owned JPEGs that would burn holes through my retinas and instantly send me to hell, I like to live on the edge, so I went for it.
As you may have noticed, Ebay decided to cancel this auction. If you'd still like to buy the socks, I'll sell them to you for $20, plus $2.50 shipping. If you are interested, please provide me with an address and paypal me the money and I'll send them off today.
Sorry about the inconvenience.
He wrote back:
Yes I ll take them ...See, now a money order would require that I give him my home address -- and that was a no-can-do. Not only did this guy buy used socks on eBay, but he spelled the word "cool" as "kewl." It was time to cut the cord:
Ok for $20 + 2.50 shipping
I can only send you a Money Order - Is it ok ?
Let me know Thanks a lot
Sorry, Burt, I only work through paypal. If that doesn't work for you, I understand.He responded:
Too bad - thx anyway !I thought the whole thing was over and I was glad. I was feeling pretty dirty at this point. Little did I know that Burt Reynolds was about to make me feel much dirtier. He sent me another email seven minutes later:
Hi,I wrote back:
I don't know if you can help but I decided to ask..
would you sell used condoms ? (serious question) Thx Burt
No, that's not really my thing.And then I burned the socks, changed my email address, took the longest shower of my life and didn't talk to Mark for several weeks.