Monday, May 07, 2007

It's Tampa Time!

Coming to you live from the Tampa International Airport!! I just had the security people throw away a perfectly good bottle of Neutrogena shaving crème (just bought the bottle too dammit!) and not give me the privilege of going through the high tech blow dryer that checks you for hazardous particles. Instead all the senior terrorists of the Tampa/St. Petersburg area were getting blown.
Ah, Florida. What a whacked place. Spent four days here visiting my friend Tom and selling shirts at the Wagon Wheel flea market in St. Pete. Sales weren’t great over the weekend but at least the weather was good and the people watching amazing. Lots of fat people here, unhealthy eating habits and ugly looking people. The cruelest thing I saw was parents with children on leashes like pet monkeys. That always upsets me to see that—the poor kids.
I love the camaraderie among vendors at street fairs and flea markets wherever I go. There’s the initially “Ooh, what are you selling?” and then the low down on sales and how the market is in general. Apparently the Wagon Wheel, an enormous flea market in St. Pete is better in the fall/winter so I guess I’ll have to make a return trip to in October or so when all the tourists are here and buy buy buy. This time of year, according to Denise, one of the regular vendors, is only locals and most of them are cheap. Cheap and without taste I may add. I think mega-stores like Wal Mart and K-mart have dumbified people. They’d rather spend $1 less on something boring like an Elmo shirt than have something original and colorful on their child. I just don’t get it. Overall, I sold a dozen shirts and paid off my space for the weekend, plus gave out a ton of business cards and met some interesting people. Hopefully, I’ll get some Internet business out of it (if these white trash lunkheads know how to use a computer). Yesterday was dreadfully hot (thank God I was in the H pavilion out of the sun) and a bit slow so I sauntered over to the book seller a few booths down and bought a book on the history of caviar to help the time fly. A good read, especially since it all takes place in Russia in places I’ve been so I could relate. After a while I got more into the book than selling shirts and started to get a little ornery toward all those bitties who’d open up the shirts, utter “How cute” plop it down unfolded and leave. One woman said she just bought one for four (I was selling my white ones for 5) and I replied over politely “Well, why not pay a dollar extra for something original?). She walked away. The semi-retarded girl who was helping her grandfather across the way from me sell every piece of crap under the sun (videos, old toys, games, Pokemon cards, etc.) wanted to buy a shirt for $1. “I’m a vendor” she told me. “Well they’re $5 darling”, I replied a little tired from the heat to be patient. “Too much money!” “It’s a good price for the shirt and I’m not selling it to you for a dollar honey.” That was the end of that little. I wanted to say “Listen, retarded or not/vendor no vendor, you ain’t getting a discount!!” but I refrained. To the left of me was William the deaf/mute portrait artist. He was a sweet guy and we made conversation through hand signals and reading lips. I came to his defense when he turned off the overhead fans because they were blowing pastel dust into his eyes (I know that feeling) and some of the other vendors got on his case. The burly blobs who sat selling fishing reels and hunting knives. They complained loudly and I complained back in his defense. That kept them quiet for a bit (until they went and told the management who rolled up in a golf cart all high and mighty). I packed up all my stuff, promising the jewelry girls next to me that I’d be back in the fall or winter when the real buyers would be there.
Now besides t-shirt promoting, I hung out with my friend Tom who lives in Tampa with his brother Paul. They bought a cute little house and fixed it up real nice. Sister Angie (no she’s not a nun) was down from their home state of Ohio for the weekend as well so after the flea market we were out partying, swimming at the beach and having a good time. Saturday and Sunday was the Tampa Bay Blues Festival in St. Pete which was great. Saw Jerry Lee Lewis, Miss Koko Taylor and Dickie Betz (formerly of the Allmand Brothers). It was all the same for me really, I was just happy to be chillin’ on the grass in the late afternoon/evening sun with a crowd of fun people, listening to the music. There was lots of food on hand to eat and I opted for one of the BBQ stands. For dessert I took a risk and tried a deep fried Snickers bar. Deep frying is an art form down here, they deep fry anything from alligator meat to Oreos. I’ve heard a lot about the deep fried Snickers so I thought I’d try one. I watched how they dipped it in sweet batter then threw it in a vat of hot oil until it was done. The guy asked me if I wanted powdered sugar on it to which I said know (that would have probably killed me). Overall, it was rather disgusting and don’t really recommend it at all. If my doctor finds out about this, she’ll probably box my ears.
Speaking of ears, I’ve got this nasty sinus infection which has plugged up my ears so getting on the plane is not really exciting. I know once we get up at a cruising altitude the pain will begin. Hopefully my ears won’t blow out leaving me deaf forever. I’m sorry what did you say?? Bon voyage!

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