Monday, July 18, 2005

Scoring On The Street

Pursuant to my previous post, my favorite pasttime this summer has been to shop outdoors. This past weekend was no exception, despite it being hot and humid enough for me to fingerpaint on my face.

My venue of choice is the street fair. Never mind that it's the same dozen vendors at every one and that most of the time I don't buy anything. The minute I see the point guard consisting of the banners of the food tents, with signs proclaiming "Sizzlin'!" or I hear the fingernails-on-a-blackboard sound of one of those little wooden frogs the vendors scrape on the back with a stick--and that never makes the same sound when you buy it and scrape it--I chortle "Street Fair!" as happily as Helium.

This weekend I hit pay dirt at the Discontinued Make-up booth and the Everything For $2.00 Jewelry Guy. The discontinued make-up was a lip pencil I've been looking for over the past four months, and I bought three at two bucks a pop. The jewelry guy, who looked sort of like Will Forte from Saturday Night Live if Will Forte was playing a speed freak with bleached blond hair, had some cool looking leather thong chokers with metallic beads. When I dug around in the earring pile, there was a pair of earrings that sort of matched the choker even though they hadn't been intended to.

I also scored a pair of kitchen scissors for $3.00 from a booth called "Interesting Things," which sounds like a Stephen King novel.

Since I was on a roll, I pushed my luck and got a palette of discontinued eye shadows for $2.00. Sadly, the shades aren't as flattering on me as I had thought they would be. And the next day at another street fair in the neighborhood, the $2.00 jewelry booth was full of different $2.00 jewelry and staffed by two tired young women.

There are always a few faddy clothing things every summer that are everywhere--street fairs, sidewalk vendors, the Korean fruit stand on the corner--and this year one of the things is the peasant skirt. They're extremely comfortable when it's ninety degrees and women of all ages and sizes are wearing them, whether they should or not. The only one I saw this weekend that didn't make me look like a sack of potatoes was a bandana print with sequins. I looked at the label for the washing instructions. "Do not iron ornamentation." I'm assuming here that the ornamentation here is the sequins, and since the skirt was liberally festooned with sequins, how are you supposed to iron it? Do you get a tiny little iron and try to press it between the sequins?

There is also this booth I've seen for the past couple of months that has bags and t-shirts with cartoons on them, usually Disney characters or Betty Boop, and writing that looks as if it had been interpreted by someone whose language is not English. Mickey Mouse is spelled "Mcikey," a handbag with Betty Boop says "Betty Boop from USA." This is either some workaround to avoid having to pay a licensing fee, or someone in a strange faraway place taking a stab at American pop culture and getting it almost right.

Besides the street fairs, I've been making the Union Square Greenmarket a regular stop on my Saturday errands. I've been told that the best time to go is first thing in the morning, and one of these days I will. But I've also gotten some pretty decent produce in the afternoon. My favorite has been the Jersey tomato and fresh herb people, although I now have more tomatoes and basil than I know what to do with and it's way too hot to make sauce. The tomatoes are fleshy, the way I remember tomatoes being when I was a kid. I've tried the yellow tomatoes, but this week the yellows were disappointingly mushy under a firm skin. The same could be said for many of us.

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