Thursday, June 14, 2012
10 Startling Things You Can Learn At One of Those “Antique Malls”
1. That antique malls even exist.
Where did these things even come from? Back in the day, when people got together and tried to sell used stuff, it was called a flea market. People set up little tables where they could pile a bunch of dusty things that you could walk by and touch even though you had no intention of actually buying anything. Now we have these “malls” that are not actually malls like you would imagine (with food courts and teenage girls giggling in packs) but really just abandoned stores that have been converted. You spend half your time walking around and going “hey, didn’t this used to be a K-Mart?”
2. The concept of “antique” is no longer what you think.
If you believe that an antique is something very old that perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt played with or kept her clothes in as a youngster, then you clearly haven’t been going to the right parties lately. The door has been thrown open and now apparently anything qualifies as an antique, from cassette-tape players to Bill Clinton bumper stickers. Oh, and those homemade candle-jar things that are in nearly every other booth? You know, the candles that are still warm because they apparently just poured them as you were pulling into the parking lot. I guess “antique” now means “older than the last time you blinked”.
3. People will hoard and then try to sell the most amazing things.
It’s odd enough that you have the final season of “Full House” on old-school VHS. But the fact that you have somehow managed to acquire 36 copies of that mess? That takes it to a whole new level. Did they even make that many official copies in the entire world? I’m guessing several of these must be boot-legged, meaning somebody thought they could make an illicit buck or two by making cheap copies of a once-beloved TV series that had jumped the shark by introducing another set of twins, which is a really sad reflection on our society.
4. Some people have a different sense of social etiquette in these places.
You will inevitably run into a couple of people who have rarely left the barn wherein they were raised, probably right after you make an ill-advised detour down a less-popular row in the hopes of avoiding the crowds in the prestigious sections. There will be at least two of them, probably more, because these folks run in slow-moving packs. They will be blocking the entire aisle and you cannot get past them, even if you clear your throat, bark “Excuse me!” several times, and fire a warning shot into the air.
Making matters worse, they will be admiring and discussing some piece of crap with little value, like those odd floppy hats that were all the rage at one time, made by bored people who crocheted pieces of beer cans together despite the clear lack of need for such a thing in anyone’s life. Why are they even needing to review this item? They obviously already own the whole set.
5. Questionable social etiquette, Part II.
Apparently a shared fondness for faded but nostalgic collectibles is all it takes for some folks to transition from complete strangers to best of friends in an alarmingly short period of time. You can be innocently strolling down an overstuffed row of booths, minding your own business, and your eyes just happen to linger for two seconds on a bottle opener featuring the likeness of Velma from “Scooby Doo”. Next thing you know, some woman with very questionable shoes is by your side, her eyes aglow with rapture.
“Don’t you just love Velma? She’s my favorite!”
My response in my head: Um, Velma’s kind of cool, in that “obvious lesbian before lesbians were obvious” sort of way. Are you coming out to me? My actual verbal response: “Well, I always appreciate smart cartoon women with a fondness for high-necked sweaters.” I say this hoping she will be offended in some way and leave me alone.
“I do too!” squeals Bad-Shoe Woman, crushing my dreams of escape. “Let’s go have some coffee and talk all about her!”
Me, eying the nearby fire alarm pull-thing on a wall, and wondering just exactly how much trouble you can get in for pulling that: “You know, that sounds like a lot of fun, but I need to go have some elective surgery right about now. Have a nice day!”
6. The 1970’s were a very messed-up time period.
Why were people so invested in plaid clothing, things involving black velvet, polyester, record album covers that didn’t make any sense, macramé plant hangers, and hairstyles that were apparent tributes to creatures that did not exist in any other decade? I realize that everybody was on drugs at the time. But seriously, those ten years were just wrong from a design perspective.
7. There are no sales people anywhere to be found.
Granted, I’m normally not a fan of people who race up and ask me intrusive questions about how they can satisfy my merchandising needs. I’d rather they just stay away and let me peruse at my leisure. But these places are ghost towns. The little booths apparently have been designed and stocked by people that have since vanished from the planet. Perhaps there was a target-specific virus that only affects people who opened dusty boxes in their great-grandma’s basement.
8. The absence of booth owners means you have to talk to women that don’t care.
So if you have a question about some rusty object that appeals to you in some way, you have to approach the lone employee in the entire building: the Dominatrix in charge of the check-out counter. She is not interested in any type of vocal research you might want to conduct. She is only concerned about the little number-coded tag hanging off the dented candelabra that you relish, so she can credit the proper absent vendor, collect her minimum wage, and then go drink somewhere in a bar where people ask fewer questions.
9. Even if the amazingly-detailed, free-standing art deco wardrobe cabinet that you encounter is the most stunning thing that you have ever seen, if you can’t open the door easily, there’s an issue.
Seriously. You shouldn’t have to break a sweat getting into this thing. If it doesn’t open right, that’s probably why somebody doesn’t want it anymore. Just move on. Let the Velma lesbian that has been stalking you have it. She’s apparently used to closet doors that she can’t get open.
10. The mixed aroma of the 4,000 handmade candle jars will stay with you for eternity.
You can run. But you can’t hide. It’s a lingering, syrupy sweet nightmare that will have you screaming yourself awake at 2AM in the morning. Especially if you bought the last VHS copy of the final season of “Full House”…