I have this thing. Maybe it is a genetic compulsion. I absolutely adore true flea markets. Nopey nope, not the kind with socks and the latest in wigs, but the kind where you might actually get fleas.
I am right there scratching and digging through the dusty damp cardboard boxes. Untangling, inspecting, and of course, bargaining. Trying my best not to cheer when I find a broach for a measly buck, and find it is worth $1500.00. Shoving it in with some other merch to buy, so the dealer doesn't notice. And a great poker face.
I possess an incredible amount of useless knowledge. But as a history buff, I found myself absorbing books on adornment. As a result of this strange fascination, I learned about German paste jewelry, forays into primitive polymers, geegaws and doodads that the Victorians used to, say, clean their ears with.
The characters you deal with are colorful and amazing. No stranger any longer, I yap with a dealer who sports a full on gold grill for chompers. He is probably Flavaflav's long lost cousin.
There is a courtly Eastern European, who unceremoniously dumps a mountain of absolutely disgusting jewelry, which I pick through carefully to extract the beauties that have lain hidden for 50 + years. He has no idea what he has. Doesn't look, doesn't care, and brings me a chair.
Another guy, from Ireland, tells me in the sweetest brogue that he can make me a deal I cannot refuse. My husband might have something to say about that my dear man.
There is a guy who has a big beard and a big attitude, plus big prices. I skip him, cuz he thinks I am stupid. He lies like a rug. He puts lipstick on a pig. He pisses and tells me its raining. Ok, I'll stop now. Him, I don't like.
I have perfected the anonymous look. Crappy sweatshirt and pants? Check. Forgetting to brush my hair? Yup. Slight whiff of. I dunno, quasi eww? Fer shure. I don't want any attention. My shoes even have holes in them. It gets me free coffee, and low prices. I am shameless!
The flea has tables filled with old quilts, empty tins from bygone eras, bad paint by numbers art. At an outdoor café, I sit in a corner with a cuppa and just watch the show as they haggle and talk, well, trash.
Every now and again, I find something astonishing and very valuable. I have found 14k gold bracelets, a real Tiffany bracelet , A Ruby and garnet ring, a broach made out of gold silver diamonds etc.
There is an ancient Hasidic man, who shows up with various boxes and tins, filled with watches, old cufflinks, fraternity pins, medals and science awards, baseballs with signatures, velvet cases containing an engraved anniversary plate. If those items could talk, I bet they would have some happy and some very sad stories to tell.
Fleas are a double edged sword. Everything has a story. Many of the items were given as a token of love, sometimes, of guilt, perhaps to make up for love that could not speak its name.
I am just in it for the sparkle, but it is my escape. I leave my tidy home, my teenagers still asleep, hubby snoring like freight train. Don't worry, I always take a shower upon my return, for I do not want to give anyone fleas.