The Labyrinth of Tackiness

Today the family and I visited one of the top five flea markets in the country, according to USA Weekend.  Rather than lounging by the pool or splashing in the surf, we decided to go to the Daytona Flea & Farmers Market.  It was…interesting.

People often say something was “interesting” when they don’t have anything wonderful to add.  Like that time you heard a band that everyone loved and you thought it sounded like children banging on things.  Or the time you saw any movie by M. Night Shyamalan not named Signs, Unbreakable or The Sixth Sense.

One of the first things we walked by in the labyrinth of tackiness was a sports memorabilia kiosk where I found this gem:

Notice he was discounted 20%

Three things to note here.  1) Delhomme has not yet thrown an interception, 2) we can assume by the grass stains that has been sacked and 3) he has been discounted 20% from $12.50 to $10.00.  In addition to this masterpiece, the vendor also had Corey Dillon (Patriots) and Stephon Marbury (Suns).  A delightful collection.

As we wandered about the plethora of petty purchases, we multi-tasked between keeping our kids’ hands off things (our son pulled a t-shirt off a mannequin exposing her plastic breast) and wondering which items we needed the least.  For me it’s really a toss-up between the pile of unwrapped manicuring scissors, the neon t-shirt featuring pot references and the pewter dragon knife sheath.

Let me take a moment to educate you.  Here are five things you can do at the flea market should you have the immediate need to do so:

  1. Get your teeth whitened.
  2. Get a tattoo.
  3. Get a piercing.
  4. Buy an electronic cigarette (from a wide variety of vendors)
  5. Get a psychic reading.

The flea market is not exactly the locale I think of first when considering a sterile place to have needles on my body or instruments on/in/around my mouth.

The things people sell intrigue me.  The things people buy flabbergast me.  In the parking lot, we noticed an elderly woman carrying a large tin sign that read “We Don’t Dial 911” and had a huge image of a handgun in the middle, just like this:

We Don't Dial 911 sign

She actually saw that and thought, “I MUST have this.”

We have been living in an apartment now for over a year with the majority of our house crammed into a storage unit.  A 15X20 storage unit.  That’s a lot of space.  We have a ton of stuff.  I’m excited for the day that we can be back in a house, pull all our junk out of their boxes and get rid of all the stuff we didn’t want/use/miss/know we still owned.  There’s a rule of thumb that says you should discard anything you don’t use in a year, right?  Well, there go 50% of all our things.  That probably won’t actually happen, but we can certainly unload a lot of things that we used to think were important.

I must admit, there were a couple items I was interested while meandering the market of fleas.  I saw a 10″ vintage Hulk Hogan action figure I’d never seen before.  I spent some time looking through the vinyl collections.  I even inquired about the price of a screen cover for my iPhone (too expensive, even for a flea market).  I walked away from each one because I certainly didn’t have a use for the action figure (until our son is a little older!) and I had no place to put or listen to any records since my collection and turn table are in storage.  It’s easy to fall in to the temptation of buying something when you’re in an environment filled with impulse buys and impractical items.

Luke 12:15 says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

The most important possessions I have are my salvation and my family.  Everything else should just enhance or support those things.

I try to ask myself “is buying this helping me reach my goals?”.  I hate typing on my iPad.  I don’t frequently write long emails or blogs.  I’d really like to have an iPad keyboard, but they cost upwards of $80-100.  I went to Best Buy recently to purchase one rationalizing that I had some birthday money to spend.  I played with several of them.  I pretended to type things.  I estimated the weight and what my iPad would look like in the case with the keyboard.  But, I asked myself if getting that keyboard was helping me get closer to our financial goals and current needs and concluded that I didn’t need the keyboard at all.

I’m trying to have this approach in many aspects of my life.  I want to clear my thoughts, time, worries and space of things that are unnecessary.  For example, we watch way too much television.  We’re quite happy that many of our favorite shows have gone off the air recentlyI’ve cut back on the massive volume of fantasy football leagues I participate in (yes, I’m a geek, no arguments here).  I used to be in six leagues, which took up entirely too much time.

The goal is to be happy with the things we have, not to have more things to try and make us happy.  I’m very intrigued with minimalist culture.  I’m fascinated by the people that have these transformer-esque apartments that are the size of a shoebox.  I wonder where they keep their extra pillows/chips/junk drawer/books.  Then I realize that they just don’t own extra things.  What a concept!  This is the exact opposite of the flea market.

I’d love to be more like the minimalists out there, but frankly, I don’t think I’m strong enough.  I think I have far too much greed and refining left in me to simply get rid of nearly everything.  What if I might need that rock band shirt I haven’t worn in years? What if I could need to have the CD jewel case to the Gravity Kills debut album?

Until I can completely change my mindset I suppose I’ll have to settle for my natural ability to refrain from buying flip-phone cases, ‘Caution Drunks at Play’ signs and embroidered women’s flamingo sweaters at the world’s top flea markets.

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