Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Chapter 6 - Thank God for Sadie

The sun hadn't quite come up as we weaved our way through the gates and around the orange rubber cones to what looked like the gate but it wasn't the pay area so a young black man with a .45 stuck into his belt without the aid of a holster directed us through some other cones that he moved for us and we drove through, accidentally hitting some others, to the pay area, paid our 5 bucks and were directed to follow a young white man in shorts on a bicycle -- who did not have a pistol but was well equipped with radio and all sorts of high tech security equipment(apparently you have to work your way up to a pistol and then a holster) -- to a place right in front of the square building that is the heart of all this funhouse entertainment. I was very happy to be situated there and reminded J of how I had chosen this very spot yesterday during our walk through as the one I would choose of all the spots on the asphalt and she agreed that it was wierd. Then a black man in a van pulled up waving a sheaf of official looking papers showing the young man on bicycle that he was in the wrong in giving us his spot so the young security guard apologized and directed us to a spot near the middle and toward the back. I didn't feel like arguing or asking for something better since he acted like he was letting us slide with the dogs as it was.

Next to us in the back was the "four for 5" sunglasses salesman, seen at every flea market in the world, while across from us was a Haitian woman with a van so packed with shoes it looked like a modern inner city parody of "There was an old woman who lived in a..."

I got the stuff out and was setting up as the sun rose and the temperature rose with it like the door of a blast furnace was slowly opening. I interrupted my set-up and located some water, luckily nearby, and filled a gallon jug at a drinking fountain for the dogs. I hadn't had coffee but I was controlling myself well. The place did not look like a stampede of upwardly mobile, monetarily insulated style mavins, or free spending style conscious tourist grandmothers would come bursting through the gates at any moment so we settled in with an oh well manner. But the fucking sun got hotter and hotter and there wasn't enough room in the alotted space to set the EZ-Up so I slid down against the van in the shade and we waited. It was a fairly typical vendor flea crowd, selling everything from old plastic pez dispensers to samurai swords.

We treated each other nicely but J was starving so she took the second to last 20 and went off in search of something to eat. Just after she left two black women came up and I was careful, per our new flea market strategy, to not say anything to them. I merely looked up and smiled and then looked away. Worked like a charm. People are so used to getting accosted at these things it is relief to shop without somebody trying to sell you something. In a few minutes they were asking questions and I sold them 40 bucks worth of earrings, decorated tableware, and a ring. I gave them a card and they told me they would contact me for more good deals. I was ecstatic and in a few minutes J came back lugging an armload of vegetables and her face lit up when I smiled at her. She said she expected me to be mad that she spent so much but in reality she only spent five bucks and got three bags of bananas, cukes, pears, tangerines and carrots so we feasted on the much needed veggies. Then suddenly there was Hank looking at me from the back of the van. "Whaa...! How'd you get out?" I led him to the passenger door and got him in and he crossed over the front seats and went out the open driver's side window. I got a little mad at him and immediately regretted it, seeing his expressive happy face go sad. I apologized quickly. The heat was becoming unbearable so I put the EZ-Up up anyway and let it go two or so feet into the fire lane. This provided us much cool relief with a slight breeze blowing and we sat there waiting for people but only a few drifted past, not buyers but admirers none the less and thank god for Sadie we were up to $75 in my pocket.

About 15 minutes after I set the thing up the Haitian woman across from us with the shoes set her chair under the shade of the EZ-Up, not directly in front of the merchandise, but damn close. I bit my lip and waited, not saying anything, but soon the chair became a place for her customers to try her shoes on and I fumed and fretted to J and she got upset and I got more upset until she went and sat in the car to be away from the monster I was becoming.

A little while went by like this and customers avoided our booth but they didn't look like buyers anyway and then she set the chair right in front of our stuff and I got up and said something, very politely and she said "Sorry Papi" with a big grin and scooted it a few feet out from the booth. Finally, when I saw a potential customer walk away because somebody was trying on shoes in front of our booth, I took down the EZ-Up and told her we were going, it was too slow, thinking this would move her and it finally did, after 15 more minutes of sitting there!

Last night we slept in a Sam's since the Wal*Marts around here are chillingly devoid of the usual RV's, and there were a bunch at the Sams. Good old Sam Walton I still say. My god we would be in a fix if there were no place to overnight. In the climate of our ever diminishing free horizons this looks like it will soon be the case. What the hell would our forefathers think if they looked around at how we behave toward each other now, at how we live and sleep and eat and run on little treadmills in big rooms with others like us who do the same? Our Indian forefathers would be mighty perplexed but perhaps not humorlessly. "We saw this all coming a long long time ago. Fore!!!" Certainly our white forefathers might be a little peeved at our evaporating constitutional rights...or would they? Jefferson, I think, would be. Adam's, for sure. Not even so much for the limiting of our freedoms as the limiting of the small entrepenuer to compete which made me wonder out loud a few days ago: "What ever happened to the trust busting laws?" All this is there for me to investigate so I must fight the anaesthetizing effects of current journalism, merely a slightly higher (or lower depending on your seating section) form of advertising, and stop taking what I read and hear as fact for granted. Wipe the slate clean so to speak, of what I know and start over. A momentary vertiginous fear surge just now at the very thought of that undertaking. We so desperately want to hold onto our blankies of security, things we believe, that people are essentially good, which I believe...that our leaders have our best interests as a nation at heart, which I want to believe, that love, not hate, is an energy eternal.

"Boy, you are verbose," says my darling wife with a sigh so I guess it's time for bed.

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