Thursday, July 28, 2011

Flea Guy

If my husband, Bill, had his own TV show it would be called Flea Guy because he is a flea market junky.  Or maybe, more accurately, a garage sale fanatic.  I swear, he can smell a garage sale from five miles away and the car must have some secret built-in radar system.  Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I believe that there is a group of them out there with their radios tuned to a special station that picks up the radar.  You can spot them in their cars scanning the medians for the bleeding garage sale signs with the obscured arrows.  They're the ones that’ll do donuts on a dime in the middle of a congested highway, pull up to the curbside, leave their cars running and block five lanes of traffic.  They race out of their cars, skim the contents of a driveway in the blink of an eye, purchase a gold necklace buried in the bottom of a pile of shells, sprint back to the car in ten seconds flat and are on to the next garage sale before they realize that they left their family two garage sales back.  
When we go to flea markets, it’s much worse.  I’ve decided that I need my own Segway to keep up with Bill.  At the flea market, he’s the ten speed bike and I’m the three wheel trike.  He’s constantly leaving me in his dust; which is why I don’t feel a bit guilty about the pair of shrunken heads I purchased in his absence.  Anyway, he is the master of the bargain.  While my fifty dollar shrunken heads sit in the garage freaking out all the neighborhood kids and giving them nightmares, his ten cent book sells on the internet for four hundred dollars.  He is amazing. 
Not only does my husband haunt garage sales, flea markets and auctions, but he also frequents thrift stores.  Once, for his birthday, I made up personal gift certificates for him and delivered them to the local thrift stores.  Then I gave him a map with clues and sent him on his own scavenger hunt from one thrift store to another.  It was pure genius (if I do say so myself).  
Bill and I have been married for twenty-five years and I don’t believe he’s ever missed a Saturday morning garage sale and/or flea market. On one road trip from Florida to NJ with the kids (in the truck with the missing back window) he took a small detour and arrived at his favorite flea market a tad early - 3 AM.  It was frigid cold, so he bundled the kids in blankets and told them to get some shut-eye before the flea market opened at five.  Needless to say, that is one memory etched in the fabric of our family forever.  There’s another memory that I’m reminded of every time I walk into my closet.  
I admit that I am not a “cleaner outer”.  When I hang something in the back of my closet it is because I don’t plan on wearing it for at least the next ten years but I keep it just in case I lose that extra twenty pounds.  Anyway, something must have come over me about five years ago when I made a valiant attempt to declutter my side of the bulging mess we call a “walk in” closet.  It is more like a “trip in” closet due to the vast array of mismatched shoes and other sundries littering the closet floor.  Anyway, as I was saying, I was a decluttering queen.  I showed no mercy to the blouses screaming that I only had fifteen pounds to go; the tie dyed jeans that reminded me they were coming back in fashion; the argyle sweaters growing dust bunnies - they all got squished into the dreaded “thrift store” garbage bag where old clothes gasp their last breath.  
So, like I said, my husband has been known to haunt a few thrift stores from time to time.  Usually, when he returns home, he brings me out to the car to dazzle me with his finds.  He is always very considerate of my latest undertaking and frequently brings back some amazing one-of-a-kind treasure to enhance my project.  Once, he brought me an entire frog band made from recycled metal for my garden.  A few months after I cleaned out my closet he was off on one of his shopping sprees.   This time, when he returned home, he was especially proud of his find.  “Honey, you’re not going to believe what I found!” He said breathlessly as he grabbed my hand and pulled me to the car.  He was so excited - like a kid in a candy shop.  I couldn’t imagine what he found that excited him so.  He even made me close my eyes.  You can imagine my surprise when I was finally allowed to open my eyes and behold the treasure.  There, right in front of me stood my husband grinning from ear to ear holding a familiar item.  

“Can you believe it!” He laughed.  “I found a blouse just like the one you used to wear when we were first married!”  

I was speechless!  There it was in all it’s 1980’s glory - my old blouse that might cover one boob now if I positioned it just so.

 “Oh, honey!” I crooned, “How did you ever find the ‘exact same blouse’!”  

“I know, right!” He grinned, “Amazing, huh?”  

I just couldn’t bear to tell him the truth.  I lovingly took the blouse, kissed my husband and thanked him for his amazing find.  I made my way to the closet and hung the blouse on the very same hanger it vacated just about a month earlier.  I don’t know, but I think I might have heard it chuckle (kind of like the last laugh) as I placed it back in it’s empty spot in the closet.  
Some women have husbands that bring them diamond rings.  Some women have husbands that wine and dine them and cover their pillows in rose pedals, but I bet that I am the only woman who has a husband who not only remembers what I wore twenty years ago, but believes that I can still fit in it!