Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Proper Attire

I was doing the Park Slope in Brooklyn farmers market all summer. That was my plan anyway.
The first day I went down there I was operating on three hours sleep.
Fixing the tractor the day before, resetting vineyard posts all week, no time for a proper laundry, the entire house a disaster area, here I was launching my season,
all my hopes for 'southern exposure' (aka NYC presence) bundled up in boxes in back of a late model Dodge truck with front-end problems. It was Sunday. Laundry day had been Wednesday. I pulled a wrinkled shirt out of the dryer.
Fatal mistake.

I'm setting up the tent, it's slightly dirty, 'I can't do this, wait, I forgot the ice, where can I get ice
in Brooklyn? Do they have ice in Brooklyn? Don't be stupid. I grew up here. We had the Dodgers. We had ice. Of course they have ice.'

The redhead next to me has no tent at all. She his sitting there in a chair with an 'if you please' smile, a sun dress on and a Mexican hat, (not a sombrero, more like a Japanese style sugegasa). In front of her is a tray of what look bonsai gardens in square rock containers. They must weigh sixty pounds apiece. 'How is she going to sell these?' I wonder. 'Who wants to lug around a chunk of concrete all day?'
"Succulents?" I ask, perceptively.
She looks up smiling, as if I had just solved the Da Vinci code.
"Yes that's right, they're succulents."

The market manager is eying me. Not too friendly. More like an appraisal. Something about her is off. The feeling you get when you walk into a 'carny' tent and somehow you know you are just another 'mark'.

The park is a kids' park. Thirty-somethings with strollers. Mostly guys. Mostly white with a few old neighborhood Ricans sprinkled in who were probably there before the area was 'gentrified', whatever that means. All of them have five dollar coffees. Something about them screams, 'I can have everything', --and they do, for now. One hour. Haven't sold a thing. Two hours, still haven't sold a thing.

An attractive older brunette with a fashionable haircut sidles up to me. In a few minutes she's standing next to me, not in front of the table but next to me behind it. Maybe late fifties I'm thinking. The hands always tell, but nicely preserved. Good bones.
"You know, I don't mean to get personal but you know you're shirt is, well, I can't begin to tell you how many things are wrong with it, it's got a hole in it, fraying,
and stains on it."
"Yeah, I know, it's been a rough week. Laundry hasn't been one of my priorities."
"You are a good looking man, but that shirt. Really."
"I'm a what?" I hadn't heard the last part.
"Yeah, you are, you are a good looking man. I just had to say something. I'm a teacher at FIT. You know, it is just something that is in me. Had to say something"
"About me?"
"About the shirt."
"Do you want to maybe grab a coffee later."
"Well," she looks surprised, "Not today,--maybe next week."
"I get it, OK I'll buy a shirt by next week. Save you the embarrassment.
"I used to model you know."
I believe her,the bone structure again. OK, now, never in my life has a woman come up to me and told me I am good looking, and especially not one with good bone structure, (except of course my mother)
I'm driving route 17 back to Monroe.
"What the heck was that?" I wonder, shaking my head.

So the next day I send an email to the people running the market.
I'm not a happy camper. I'm selling the wine right by a kids park. Plus I'm shoved off on the side street, like week old bananas. Paying the same rent as the vendors on the avenue.
I offer to switch to another market. Two days later I get the reply.
"You have to develop a following. Maybe next year we will put you on the avenue. The market manager already told us you were poorly groomed."
Poorly groomed!? This is a farmer's market,-on the street, what do they want? A tuxedo!?
Then it clicks. The woman from FIT. She was a plant. A hundred ten pound bonsai. They had sent her over on the QT to work me. I was the mark.
Next email I send; "I won't be participating in any of your markets. Thanks for
My world view, restored.
Ahh, Brooklyn.

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