Sunday, November 16, 2008

Flea Markets

I have finally learned why these places are called flea markets. The probability of actual fleas or some kind of flesh eating airborne bacteria attaching themselves to a part of your body, as you are strolling around the stalls, is very high.
I went there on the false assumption that I could find collectible books. What I have forgotten is that no one reads anymore and any collectible book is most likely to be found in the crawlspace of some 80 year-old lady with 13 cats who has retired to her small town of Nowheresville, Iowa.

This marvel of modern bazaars was located on the southwest side of the Chicago area. A gray, depressing mishmash of aluminum sided houses with pickup trucks parked in the driveway, train yards, truck terminals, quarries and warehouses. There is no hope here, only beer, football, hunting and the inevitable terminal illness, which goes untreated due to lack of insurance.

If you wish to purchase kitschy junk that has no value like wood carvings that say “Bill’s Lounge” or “Live Free or Die”, an Uncle Sam lamp or a VHS tape version of the movie Corvette Summer dubbed in Spanish then this is the place for you. Barack Obama was at the front and center of this cavalcade of crapola. Many of the upstanding businessman there were selling framed pictures of him with the White House in the background or framed pictures of him on the covers of fine publications like Ebony and Vibe (I have a subscription to both of these. Don’t hate!). The winner of the Useless Obama Junk contest hands down was the t-shirt with an airbrushed picture of the new first family hugging with, you guessed it, the White House in the background. Someone is going to buy this and wear it. For the love of God why? I understand having pride in your community. I’m Greek. If Mike Dukakis had won the presidency in 1988, I guarantee you I would not have bought a shirt with his picture on it. My ethnic pride only goes so far. Of course, Dukakis was a toolbox and Obama is actually cool but I don’t need a t-shirt that has Malia and Sasha on it. It’s overkill. It’s like using a bazooka to hunt deer. Obama has become a cult of personality in the bizarro world of Flea market patrons.

Do you like looking at attractive people? If you answered yes stay the hell away from flea markets. There were Asians, Africans, Hispanics, Europeans and others who still haven’t been categorized by anthropologists. The ancestry made no difference. These people were the grounds at the bottom of a cup of Turkish coffee, the gum on the sole of your shoe, the itch you just can’t scratch, the shingles on your otherwise unblemished skin. Hideous is a word that comes to mind. Another one is ugly. I anticipated unprecedented ugliness so I dressed accordingly and I didn’t shave. I wore an Old Navy charcoal fleece jacket, black fleece sweatpants with a red stripe down the side and a skullcap with some kind of mythic bird of prey on it. My scarf was apricot. The Diesel jeans and Pumas stayed in the closet. If you’re going to explore the jungle you better look like the natives.

Believe it or not, I did not go home empty handed and it wouldn’t be a good day at the flea market if you didn’t haggle with one of the faceless ones. My first purchase was 5 avocados from a round-faced Mexican boy, whose adoring mother was looking on. They were a dollar each. I said to the kid “One dollar? How about 99 cents?” He smiled and shook me off. “No”, he said, “One dollar”. I was in the mood to haggle but to save 5 cents just didn’t seem worth it. I gave the little avocado tycoon five dollars. After this purchase I went outside to the cold winds where the real men had set up shop. I ran across a guy selling Mach 4 razors. I’m Greek so I need at least 10 blades on my razor to get a smooth shave. Right now they’re only at 4 blades. There is room for improvement. The technology has not caught up to the bamboo chutes coming out of my face every day. I said to the man, “How about $8 for these?” He was selling them for $9. He said “No. These are $16 in the store”. I said “Come on you don’t think I’m beautiful? How about $16 for two?” He laughed and gave them to me for $17. So I saved a cool dollar. It kind of made up for the fact that the Mexican kid screwed me out of 5 cents earlier. He gave me my change and asked for a tip. If I had tipped him I would have lost the $1 gain so I declined although I think he deserved it for amusing me. He bagged the two boxes of razors and my parting reply was “There are actually razors in these boxes right?” He really liked that one. I hope that exchange made his day. I will remember it fondly.

So unless you really like avocados or need to shave going to a flea market is a fruitless endeavor. Did you catch that pun? It was totally intentional. Unless avocados are vegetables, in which case, I have insulted punsters and botanists worldwide.

Flea Markets have the following to offer the weary shopper:
Ugly people
Bad products
More ugly people

I hope I have disencouraged you from going to these places.
Purveyors of Wisdom, Eaters of Avocados.

1 comment:

DarioStereo said...

Apricot? You were wearing something coloured Apricot?


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