8.01.2005

Hands off the Candlesticks and Nobody Gets Hurt

Your emotionally available gay friend arrives at your house before daybreak, loading your newly polished selection of antique furniture and collectibles, improbably, into the tidy back end of a silver Mercedes hatchback. His boyfriend who's worked in merchandising would have come to lend a promised hand at the Fairfax Flea Market today, but he has to stay home and feed the Highly Bred Dogs, and also he has arthritis, and besides, he's still asleep. He does agree to bring you a market umbrella later in the day, after he's gone to Santa Monica to purchase a new BMW, which could take a good part of the morning if the red one isn't available and he has to fight off the English Lesbian who's threatened to bring cash.

His other half unloads you and your pre-war Limoges, hotel silver, vintage jewelry and the rest of it between a Crazy Lady selling costume jewelry for 99 cents; and a Crunchy Granola Couple who deal in vinyl record albums and paperback books, two for a dollar. With the freakish efficiency of a carnie act, both neighbors erect tents on either side of you, laying rugs and hanging curtains to effectively shut you out altogether.

After your friend has gone, you sit there alone as the sun starts to beam down with the intensity of a Gestapo spotlight hoping your friends bring that umbrella very soon. Only the stray Kooky Old Lady toting a rolling cart braves the ultra-violet intensity of your outdoor tanning booth, turning over a piece of hot French porcelain without the aid of an oven mitt before shaking her head, shooting you a look and throwing it back on the pile. "Don't you have anything cheap?" she snaps. "I'm looking for cheap."

"Next door," says the mute wave of your hand.

As the day drones on, We Ho Hipster Girl On Cell Phone Searching For Baubles best describes your primary market base. Through an impressive wad of gum, one mouths a very attractive offer on a pair of silver earrings you vaguely remember buying at some souvenir shop during a cruise ship stop at Acapulco. Things may be looking up, you think, until the Exective From E! Entertainment Television offers two-hundred bucks for the mid-century Danish table you've very generously priced at $950. "Do you deliver?" she asks. No, I don't deliver, or I'd be the one working at E! and you'd be standing here selling off the family silver like a fat Scarlett O'Hara determined to make the rent. "I'm not a professional dealer," you inform her. "I'm a screenwriter."

"So you don't deliver?" she replies.

A Pair Of Queens turns over your pricey, hand-wrought MacKenzie-Childs ceramic candlesticks to check for the stamp. "They're real," you assure them. You make them a very generous offer, a hundred bucks for a set worth five times that. The ingrates respond with a gasp delivered in pitch perfect harmony like something out of a brother act in Vegas. "You'd pay more than that at Marshall's for the knock-off," you growl, scaring even yourself. "Now put down my candlestick and scram!" Honestly, some guys just do not deserve to be gay.

Your friends call from the BMW dealership, where things are going very slowly, with way more papers to sign since they bought their last BMW, which wasn't red and simply has to go right now. What about the umbrella?, you croak, parched and weary. "What's that? Um-brell-a, you somehow manage to repeat with a tongue so dry it now looks like the kind they sell at Cantor's. Before your connection is lost you hear something frantic about how one of the dogs just threw up and the other two are eating it.

The Crazy 99 Cent Lady offers to relieve you so you can get some water, and you are surprised and grateful, though you do close your jewelry box and take it with you. The rest of the crap Crazy can load up in the van she also lives in and make off with, for all you care at this point.

Your sister calls from San Diego and you tell her about Miss E! Entertainment and her delivery-contingent $200-offer on the period Scandinavian table and six chairs donated from your sister's cast-offs. Well able to afford her dignity, she forbids you to sell it to this "moronic, insulting, declasse" Television Person, and instructs you to bring it back and put it in her smart, dignified, classy garage. You wish you'd been informed there was a minimum bid in the first place, since you're getting a little tired of hauling a piece this size around Southern California and the Inland Empire. Fortunately, your cell phone runs out of batteries and cuts her off, which doesn't technically qualify as a hang-up but still serves its purpose.

You crouch under a hand-held umbrella whose shade covers either your head and shoulders or your hands and feet, forcing you to switch between the two while eyeballing a pair of Extreme Skateboarders clearly trying to snatch one of the linen dresser scarves you've carefully laid out. Why the boys would want this particular item you're not sure, but you crouch down to steal a better look, where it turns out they were only picking a rock out of one of their wheels.

You're later convinced that Matthew McConaughey's Mother is trying to haggle you down to ten bucks on a stylish straw bag. At least that looks like Mr. Sahara Himself trailing behind her, smoking a cigar and refusing to make direct eye contact with you beneath the brim of a cowboy hat.

You are sadly non-plussed by your possible B+ List Star Sighting, which strikes you as sad, since this kind of thing used to give you a real charge back before you stopped feeling much of anything at all.

One thing they don't tell you in film school is how your uncanny ability to just turn it all off is exactly what it takes to survive this kind of day. It's no trouble at all going to this blank, inviting place where you're sitting with friends under the cool shade of a market umbrella, brunching off French plates set on a Danish table, chatting about your great job at E! and your shiny new BMW. About the remarkable way all your Big Hollywood Dreams just keep right on coming true.

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