Thursday, May 18, 2017

God's Country

We don't get out much, not that I have to say that. Again.
Now that the weather has gone from cold, gray, and humid to warm, gray, and humid, it's time to leave the homestead now and then, for stuff not involving picking up dog food.

Much to the grief of the wife, it was a guitar and musician flea market. It was on the grounds of a large flea market, so everyone was covered.  There was a fifty percent chance of rain, which was a bit of a joke, but it seriously couldn't decide which way it wanted to go. This is why it's called Mother Nature, because only a woman would spend the entire day going from cloudy to sunny to cloudy, over and over again. The sun and clouds were fighting like Hillary and Trump supporters, with neither getting an edge.

The place was a bit far out, so we had to get some online directions; never a good idea. For instance, the directions said to make a left to Route 134 West, while the sign said Route 134 West was right. You know where this is headed, right? We sure as hell didn't.

We knew we were in for an adventure when 134 West crossed Forty Mile Road. Being from the city, we don't have Forty Mile Road. We have Market St. The Boulevard. I-95. Just down from Forty Mile Road was Granite Road.  Forty Mile probably indicated that in 1900, it was forty miles to civilization, not that much had changed, except some nice houses and grass. Granite Road was the entrance to the quarry, where Fred Flintstone worked.

It was ten miles to the next road, so being the Excellent Navigator I am, I mentioned we were to continue for ten miles.  A ways down the road (because you say 'ways' past the city line) I asked how close were we. The answer, Excellent Driver she is, was "I don't know - I got distracted." And so it began.

When we first met, we were unusually perfect for each other. We didn't fight and managed to do everything together and in rhythm.  As we got older, we started to notice stuff.... stuff like all of the sudden, it wasn't too good an idea to have both of us in the kitchen at the same time. It was like putting Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen with coked up Billy Mays, a few sharp knives, and maybe some grenades. I'm extra careful around knives because I almost amputated a digit when I was little. This is not helped by my wife's tendency to reach past me every time I slice something. Similarly, water acts as a trigger for her... whenever I run the water to do dishes, she automatically needs water for something else.  I don't pretend to understand, but let this be our biggest problem, right?

But no. Another large problem involves Going Places, specifically places we've never been, that rely on directions. She becomes very nervous and extremely short-tempered and communicates by yelling.  Since yelling is usually my territory, it gets hot and loud in the vehicle. Hot and loud is good during sex, for waking the neighbors, but it does absolutely nothing to help get somewhere.

'About' ten miles down the road, the yelling continued. We had no choice but to pull over and fire up my eternal nemesis... no, not the mower... the Garmin.  Technology certainly has come a long way from having to get directions over the wired phone, write them down, then remember to take them with you. Now you just have to know the address and put it into your GPS. Most people have stopped using Garmins and simply use their phone's system. Since I'm tin foil hat, I have the GPS in my phone locked down so far it would take longer to activate it than to walk ten miles. If we fire up the wife's phone, it will give us directions completely different from the Garmin.

I decided to make peace with the Garmin, in spite of my one hundred percent negative experience with the infernal device. This was going to be different, I told myself.  And of course I was mistaken. Putting the address into the device, it immediately told me there was no such address. This is absolutely typical of my Garmin experience. It always requires screaming. And the moment the first error comes up, I go from quiet and positive to wishing universal death and destruction on the device, its headquarters, and everyone involved in its production, down to the clerk that rang it up for me at the electronics store. There is no other device or circumstance in life that gets to me like this, except possibly the mower.  Once I established that the little $@&*er didn't understand 'Rt' and required me to type 'Route', it asked me if I wanted the exact address I typed.  Smart little box, isn't it?

Back on the road, it told us to go another few miles in the direction we were headed, causing a temporary thaw in international relations. The moment it told us to make a left from Green Road to Green Valley Road, one of us completely failed to make the turn, causing a recalculation. Fortunately it did not recommend driving into the water, as two of them did last time we used it.

Eventually we made it to the market. There is all sorts of folksy lore on the website about how the market came to be, with Old Papa Jed selling stuff on the roadside back in the 1800s (or 1900s or something) and the stand becoming so popular, it's now a large flea market.  And when I say large, I mean an awful lot of rock-filled drives and stalls, similar to a dilapidated drive-in of yore. The wife immediately started asking where it was. Well, it was the only indoor area and the rest of the place was stalls and parking lots. This was insufficient, for some reason, so yelling was indicated. Impossible physical acts were suggested. And cigarettes were involved.

Cigarettes are always involved. It's the most bizarre legal drug addiction I have ever beheld. While Mrs lefty is gracious enough never to smoke in the house or car (even she can't stand smelling it), it's worse than crack. The moment she leaves a building or exits the car, the cigarette is At The Ready, before she has actually left the building or opened the car door.  We call this PTSD - as if she's never going to get another one so this one is Very Important.

This was God's Country. We kept checking the GPS and our phones, shocked that there was signal at all. The big hangout was probably the Walmart, no doubt a very recent addition. There were feed stores, as well as actual hardware stores, which have all but disappeared in the city. The was an actual dairy with an attached ice cream shop. Horses, chickens, cows, and very few people were seen on the way.

After locating the sole indoor space, I sallied forth and intruded. After over an hour's drive, I had no idea what to expect, but at least there weren't two toothless family members selling used guitar strings and a whole lotta space. There were about twenty tables... I hesitate to call them vendors because this was an indoor flea market. Gone are the days of finding an ancient gem under someone's bed - things were market priced or higher.

One table featured violins in different colors. They even had ukeleles in different colors. Not sure if the color indicated the value or tone, or whether it was just best to breeze by quickly. There were definitely a lot of guitars there, mostly of the very cheap off-brand variety. Someone even had a few off-brand lefties, bless them. There was also a metalflake pink, star-shaped guitar, hopefully for young girls, although I wouldn't hesitate to play it if I were wearing a pink tutu, a set of Disney ears, singing Earache My Eye, as Cheech Marin. But I'm just different that way.

I saw a few Marshall amplifiers, which was exciting, right up til I got close and realized they were the kind that didn't have tubes in them, which sold about four units when they were new. There were also a few very old mixing boards, one described as vintage, priced astronomically. The board used to record Abbey Road sold for millions and was worth it. These relics of the Eighties were approaching $1,000, for which you could triple the performance by purchasing a new one.

There was one item I didn't want to leave without, but alas, the vendor was nowhere to be seen.  The Rules would tell you that since it was not marked, it was free and since there was no vendor around, I could just wheel it out myself, but I wasn't sure if these people read The Rules, so I decided to leave it there. It was a huge console tube tester. You know, old folks, when you had tubes for your tv or radio and you needed to see if they were good or you had to buy new ones. I use tubes in most of my guitar amps, so this would make a great piece of 'furniture' for the house. I even had Wifely Approval, but the bastard was nowhere to be found. Ok, I do have a portable one anyway, but this was in its own console and looked all retail-like.

I suspect because it was God's country, the people were largely locals and they were nice, amiable folks... the kind you like to do business with. I manged to escape with a few baubles. My wife, who can find treasure anywhere things are for sale, managed to locate some bizarre sort of pick holder that involved velcro. I already have quite an efficient pick holder made from denim. It's called pants and it has four or sometimes five pockets which can be filled with picks. Come to think of it, there was not a single pick for sale in the entire structure. In any case, she saw gold in these devices, purchasing a bunch of them for relatives who do not play guitar, but would find them invaluable for something entirely different. I gave up asking a long time ago.

Musician Crap: I got a Boss DS-1 so I could do some modifications on it and check out the differences. Also a Tascam USB audio interface that I took for granted will work with linux. This is an adorable little box that will take a mic or guitar signal and send it out to your computer via USB.

And that was that for the guitar show. If we were so excited we couldn't contain ourselves, it was also open the next day. You know... if we didn't get to all twenty tables in one morning.

Poof - out of the music gate we went, walking in minor, freshly-installed lakes, to the rest of the flea market, conveniently located out of doors. Flea markets are different than I remember, not that I am a frequent visitor. The first few stalls seemed to consist of merchandise from QVC, which was a selling point, for reasons I am not privy to as a man. Guys, or other genders with external plumbing, would think that one doesn't need to drive over an hour to purchase merchandise that can be ordered via the phone or QVC's convenient website. Women, on the other hand, don't let logic interfere with a good shopping opportunity.

Some of the other vendors had tables plus what can best be described as a small shed that you could walk into and see more merchandise, some actually not from QVC, but in an atmosphere that could make mice claustrophobic.  The places looked a lot like episodes of Hoarders that haven't aired yet. My job was to Hold Things. It was my job for the day, apparently. Wife would pick something up, say some words, then order me to Hold This. As any husband will tell you, it's better to smile, agree, and Hold This, never asking a single question or uttering any noise that would invite further talking or debate on the item(s).

Because we don't get out a lot and because I'm probably past the mean age of crime, I'm not used to seeing an employee appearing wherever I am, 'tidying up' an area. And reappearing at a different area at which I've just arrived. Usually the more observant of the two of us, my wife did not notice. I did, and desperately wanted to find a different vendor to give my money. That was to be a losing proposition, so I just continued to Hold This.

There were a few places to get breakfast, like eggs, sausage, and bbq. Apparently bbq is what's for breakfast in God's Country. I do not have a single issue with this, so bbq it was, with some loaded fries, outside a railcar-turned food truck, in the recently started monsoon-ish wind and the clouds which had temporarily won the argument with the sun. It was romantic. We decided it was as romantic as we needed, whereas if it rained, we couldn't stand that much more romance.

I saw a drill press, next to some strange scented lotions, probably from QVC. I was compelled to look upon it's pressiness with manly appreciation, exclaiming that I wanted it.  What would I do with it, Dear? I have no idea... I could put it in the basement and tell people I had a 'shop' down there. Then show them the various holes I had drilled into my hands since I got it.

You know the stuff at flea markets, as do I. This flea market was no different, so naturally we had to look at everything. We are now the proud owners of a bunch of bizarre, loud, owl necklaces. Fortunately they're for a family member, as were the Daffy Duck glasses.

On the way home, we stopped at the dairy to get some ice cream for breakfast. We did well.

And nobody had any marks on them by the time we arrived home. Except for where the ice cream dripped.

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