Flea Market

My parents kidnapped LMC for a weekend at the beach- just the grandparents and the little Cagle. I was really happy to see her go off with them and get some one-on-one time that is so very, very rare.

Not to mention that it gave me four days with just me and Bennie as Husband was on call for those same four days. Think of a four day call as the opposite of vacation. He packs a bag with a toothbrush and a few changes of clothes. That's where the similarities end.

Me and Bennie! I was determined to not sit around the house for four days- anything could happen! We were girls on the go. We headed to the park, snuck into a secret opening of a new store in town, made it to Mass, headed to the river and the river market. We were everywhere.

And then I had a gumption that we needed to go to the flea market. Let me be perfectly clear: we needed to go the flea market.

Needed. As in we should have gone yesterday.

The last time I went to the flea market was eight years ago. Husband and Wife were engaged and a party was being thrown that night in our honor-- a redneck/white trash party. Husband, Wife, my cousin/maid of honor, and Husband's best friend headed to the flea market to get some airbrushed t-shirts for the event.

My cousin was a little, uh, under the weather (shall we say?) that morning. We had to wait about thirty minutes to get our prized possessions. In that time, Cousin/Maid of Honor looked at me and said, "I think I'm gonna be sick."

Husband walked her to the bathroom where a sign was permanently hung: Caution. Wet floors.

Deeming that neither safe nor clean- they head to the car. On the way, in the dirt parking lot, amongst strangers-- Cousin can hold it back no longer. Expelling all from the night before between two cars, she rallies and returns to the air brush booth. She even paid an extra $3 to get M.O.H. added to the back in purple. While nothing about this moment should be dwelled upon, it really set the mood for the day and the impending redneck shower.

We did it right.

Bright and early this past Sunday morning as the ninth bell rang, I started to stir. Grabbing Bennie, we loaded up and ate breakfast as we drove the fifteen minutes to the outskirts of town and the red roofed flea market.

When the rusted old silver minivan cut me off at my exit, I should  have taken it as a sign. Instead, in my mind I thought, "This should be fun- I bet they're going to the same flea market that I am."

They were.

I parked next to a dilapidated, burnt out Lexus and some 1972 El Camino-esque roadie. My Tahoe is almost 10 years old and my stroller was so new, it still had the plastic on it. I'd fit right in. These would be my people.

Knowing I had found a secret gem in the flea market, I walked in.

You know what I learned about the flea market in those 45 minutes?

People still smoke. And cheap cigarettes smell worse than expensive ones. Who'd'a thought I could tell the difference between a Pal-Mal and Camel by whiff alone?

They sell fake Crocs at the flea market. Normally, they're $6. Today though- they were $4. But since I had a kid with me, I could get a pair for $3. It made me wonder if I could haggle him down to $2 just for the sake of haggling.

I could.

But, the thought of popping those Mock-Crocs out of the sealed plastic bag and placing them on precious Bennie's clean toes made me shudder. I moved past the $2 Mock-Crocs and found myself face to face with vinyl art for my car.

Well, I needed to investigate that. Vinyl art for my car? I could do one of those stick people families that are everywhere. See? these are my people- literally, painted in vinyl on the back of my car. Me, Husband, LMC, Bennie, Nameless Baby Boy... and it would be c-u-s-t-o-m-e. I'm throwing the "e" in there for effect.

Turns out custom-e vinyl art (that is picked from a big book) is not that cheap. I move on. Stick people families aren't my style, anyway.

A man with a Vietnam Vet hat and a cane had a booth just outside the door of Building G. As I walked out, a woman asked, "How much 'dis iron?"

"5!" he called back... and then continued, "Goes to $6 in two minutes."

Well then- that's one way to negotiate. Must have learned that little tactic from Zig Ziglar.

Sure as the wind blows, she started screaming to her husband, "Bobby- Quick! Get my purse. GETTIT! NOW! I gotta get the iron before the price goes up."

Sonofagun if that Vietnam Vet didn't sell that iron for $6. He was also selling broken dishwashers. They were going for $35. Price was going up to $50 after lunch.

Rounding into Building H, the flea market really started to fascinate me. I could get a tattoo, tire cleaner, and pre-packaged Hanes socks in Building H. There were also hand-made afghans and little knit dresses. Next to the old lady afghan booth, a man was selling "Ladies thongz $3" and "Kingmaster" "Linjerie" (their spelling, not mine) for $5. I leered at the $1 toothbrushes and $.75 deodorant. Bennie kept her hands in her lap and her eyes forward. City kid knows the rules.

"Hey, Pretty Lady!" I hear.

Surely, this voice was talking to me. While not looking my best, I am-- at the very least-- put together and have makeup on for a change.

"Pretty Lady!" I hear again. I look around. He wasn't talking to me.

He was, however, talking to the slightly overweight braless woman whose boobies were hanging down to her hip bones. All 48 hairs on her head were standing straight up, having not seen a hair brush in probably a few days. Her shorts were a little snug in the seat. She, too, looked up. He was apparently talking to her.

"Pretty Lady! You look like you need this deodorizer for your car. I think I can let this go for $4."

Y'all. I kid you not, this was a glorified evergreen tree on a string. And you know what she did?

"$3.50 and ya got yerrself a deal."

He hemmed and hawed before taking her $3.50 in change and she proudly walked off with the car deodorizer. I was mesmerized by these people. No longer could they be MY people. My people would negotiate better.

Heading into the last building, it held used tires, "antiques" made of the finest pressed wood money could buy, and an Elmo doll that I actually contemplated purchasing for Bennie for about twenty seconds. The airbrush booth was on the end. Remembering that funny, funny day so long ago, I headed down there to discover that the air brush booth was gone and had been replaced with an Indian man selling electronics with a sign that said, "Make sure merchandise works before leaving premises. No refunds. No exchanges. No excuses." {it really instilled confidence in the customer}

I turn to leave and saw the ladies bathroom with the same permanent sign: Caution. Wet Floors.

Good tip.

Maybe I won't be back next week, maybe these won't be my people. Maybe this is not a diamond in the rough- rather, just rough. But at least I now I know.

And I know where to get a tattoo, vinyl decals, and $1 VHSes. And overpriced irons. And some, ahem, real nice "linjerie."

All valuable things to know.



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