There is a Carny expression that I find is often fitting for certain situations which is “in a dog’s age”, meaning several years have gone by and is commonly used when describing the last time you have done something or seen someone. It is more than appropriate to say that I haven’t been to a flea market in a dog’s age, though my husband and I did try on our vending hats at the U-Sell over in Vineland last month. Selling and buying are two very different things but I would like to think I am pretty good at both. When you are trying to make the money, you know people are going to chew you down every cent they can save while you want to get as much out of every item as possible, not only to earn back the rent you paid to occupy that spot but maybe even turning a profit for whatever reason. When you have the money, you are looking for quality items at affordable prices and deals on merchandise that would otherwise cost more if purchased elsewhere, being wary of scams and ensuring that you get the proper change.
Our destination on Sunday was the Berlin Market, one part farmer’s market where you can buy fresh locally grown produce and one part flea market where you can buy pretty much anything from people set up in a parking lot. Having heard good things about the variety of selection, I was quite excited when we entered what seemed like a shopping procession that slowly ambled down a long row of tables. The sun was out and it was pretty warm, but quite a few of the vendors had canopies or other overhangs which offered a bit of shade when needed. We weren’t looking for anything in particular though were keeping our eyes peeled for items that usually pique our interest when we go shopping at antique stores and thrift shops. My husband was checking out tools and tapes while I was taking in all of the people and forgetting I likely stuck out like a sore thumb wrapped in a neon orange band-aid.
There was a guy who had some vintage lighters and a hand warmer thrown together on the lid of a tin, so we were inspecting them when I picked up a hobo knife. Now while we haven’t really gone hunting for one, I am pretty sure this was the first time I saw one anywhere and it was in decent condition so I had to buy it. Everyone is into utility knives with all the bells and whistles and whatnot that you could ask for, but I wanted a slightly rusted tool that just had a fold-out fork, spoon, knife and can opener. Simple yet essential tools carried by train hoppers of yesteryear who freely drifted from town to town that are valued by those who can appreciate what they are looking at. It only cost a fin and that included one of the lighters my husband purchased for himself.
Usually crowded places are a huge annoyance for me, but I spend a good portion of my time in small town that is heavily wooded where I rarely see and never speak to my neighbors. Essentially I have adjusted to peace and quiet, so when that sense of comfort is left behind and I am in a situation where I know I am going to be around lots of people, I tend to ignore them in order to maximize my enjoyment of whatever outing we happen to be on. While I am well aware that being a woman with tattoos, piercings, stretched ears and unconventional hair [it’s grey and short with the sides shaved at the moment], I am also at an age where it is the ‘norm’ for me where no amount of staring or rude comments is going to change any of that. My appearance definitely causes people to turn their heads which is something I am used to; it’s the things they say that still shock me.
While I was heading towards a vendor to pay them for the adorable mini hats I found, a woman bumped into me and made some sort of remark about me being “ugly”. Is it really that hard to keep such thoughts to yourself? You don’t see me going round asking why people have brown hair or wear jeans or why their weaves are showing or their tattoo looks like a blind chicken did it in an earthquake, so it is really hard for me to understand what the point of such statements are. She should be thankful I was in a good mood and too hot to cause a scene, otherwise I would have happily called her out for the childish behavior.
After having enough sun for the day, we grabbed a rootbeer float and went inside where there are stores selling even more stuff. It was pretty crowded but that might be due to the fact there are no wide aisles like the outside selling area and the amount of parents with kids who wanted to keep them out of the heat. The most entertaining thing that happened was having a conversation about tattoos with this old guy in the music store. Was not keen on having him grab my arms to inspect my ink, especially since that should just be a common courtesy that non-tattooed people extend towards those of us with art on our skin. When I am on Tumblr, I am surrounded by tons of other modified individuals who understand these sort of things, so I found myself in a situation that I had not experience in quite a while and suddenly felt unsure if the reaction I wanted to express would be appropriate.
Yes, I am afraid of being myself in public on account I am certain people would not understand.
Leaving the market on a high note, we picked up some lunch and took it over to the park that was around the corner. Here we encountered a gaggle of geese who where cute for about five seconds before we realized they were headed right for us. They probably wanted our cheese fries. Crisis averted, we sat at a picnic table in the shade and watched as they sought bread crumbs from a father and his children instead. Then we wandered along a path that went around the park, walking over the lake by way of a foot bridge and coming around the other side of it on grass.
An afternoon well spent, and we may wind up selling there at some point in the future.