Friday, January 11, 2013

Downtown - Part One


Part One

            My manor and time management changed when I became an antiques dealer.  I stopped a normal development into the abyss of the “I don’t know” of humanity and replaced it with a “I know very, very well”.  I knew I wanted to find “antiques” I could sell.  No one else I knew wanted to do “that”.  They thought I was “weird”.
            There was no problem turning my back on that opposition.  I was in Junior High School.  The only time I ever saw those ...people... was in this school, during the day, generally “between classes” and “at lunch”.  The rest of the time I didn’t know where they were or what they did.  We all took a school bus home.  They, it seemed to me, did “stuff” like “watch TV”.  I did that too, but, forever less and less.  To this day I “don’t have time” to “watch it”.  Why?
            I discovered that I didn’t have to take the school bus home.  The school was “downtown” and I could:  WELL:  I COULD WALK “downtown”.  “Yeah right”:  Over to Woolworth’s and “hang out”.  No; much worse.
            I discerned that I could “walk” to “antiques shops”.  These days, nobody would walk that far for any of these shops for they were hardly “antiques” “stores”.  They were (and are) actually junk stores on the very FAR END of, typically, any town… with a… downtown.  They are in neighborhoods where “no one” “walks” “much”.  I was a youthful pioneer on foot; a traveler in a wild wilderness that when I verbalized it to my young friends, they just stared at me and... “I don’t know”.  Too bad.
            What I didn’t realize was that not that many other people went there “too”.  It took me a decade to realize this.  Ascertain:  I thought that anyone would go to these stores to buy antiques because they actually “got them” and they were “cheap”.  But I never saw “anybody”.  “Anybody” was (and remains) the body of “respectable people” who “have an interest in antiques”.  They are not going to park their car “down there”.  “WALK?” was (is) not in their vocabulary.  “All they have is junk anyway.” remains to this day the standard melody I “hear”.  Furthermore; and this took me TWO decades to understand, these “places” are not where “proper people” “in the trade” “are found”.  “Oh.” is what I said TWENTY YEARS after my “junior high school” “experiences”.  Now I don’t even bother to say that.
            The experience of walking vast distances through bad neighborhoods that “nobody goes to” did teach me eloquent lessons that I have never forgotten, continue to exploit and am now very glad I have for they stack up real good against the sissy, cry baby, black polished shoes of the trade that are “always” “trying” to explain to me that they “deal in” “good stuff”.  This last is relative, I’ve learned.  It is defined very precisely by... the one that utters the words.  MEANWHILE, back on the frontiers of my youth and “trade development”, none of this was of any concern.  I arranged with my mother to “pick me up” at a designated and obscure parking lot behind a church.  Easy in and easy out for the driver combined with low profile “waiting spot” for a kid who... was carrying a piece of furniture, an “old painting”, a “picture in a frame”, a... “bag of old books” OR GOD KNOWS WHAT BECAUSE JESUS (in the church) KNOWS HEAVEN FORBID WHAT I “dragged home” from this “parking space”.
            “What” is, in hindsight, unimportant to me.  It would not be to YOU.  The simple formula of “buy low - sell high” of fine decorative arts or old printing would make your lips smack, your hands rub together and the ole “HEY KID HOW MUCH YOU WANT FOR THAT?” come out of ...YOUR mouth.  I recall buying, for example, my first folding “pocket map” of “TEXAS” “back then”.  I don’t know “what” map it “was”.  I know it was “OLD” and in a red leather “case” (it was twenty years before I ...affected... the use of that word).  I recollect I had it for a while and would open it up in my room every now and then and stare at it.  I reconvene that the State of Texas looked funny on it and that it was “definitely” “hand colored”.  Some dealer screwed me out of it when they “came” to “my room” to “buy”.  If I bought it for “six” ($6.00) I would sell it for “sixty-six” ($66.00) or the same.  For this “old map” I paid, I very precisely remember... “four”.  So what if “the piece of shit” would have “paid for a year of college”.  This opinion of “the pissing away” of the “good stuff” I’ve “found” has never really changed over the years.  The interpretations of “what to do” “with it” have, but, as I write, I find I am more refined then ever to my commitment of “Is it the object or the ...finding of the object... I like?”.  It is definitely the latter.  Forget the map.  Forget the paintings I’ve sold (sell).  They are all in collections of “people” who are “keeping them”.  I found them.
            Where was I then?  WHERE YOU ARE NOT.  And this where became my school and today is my sanctuary. I am forever blessed by the actual walking away from all that I “could have been”.  Stuffy, sordid, clubby, formalized abominations of faux sophisticates with responsible positions, respectable parking spaces and dreadful NOTHING[1] lives fell away from me so early in my life that it has taken me decades to piece this falling away together.  Last year a women elaborated to my wife in great detail about going “to see” “a movie” but, after a reflective moment qualified it all by saying that my wife “wouldn’t like it anyway because you guys live in a movie.”.  We do.
            The specific and formative division AND fatal attraction of “this business” was (and is) the “people”; the social theater and its “set” where upon this theater is acted.  It is not theater.  It is dreadfully real.  HORRID, stomach turning, vomiting humanity from dawn until dusk passes upon me OR I PASS UPON IT.  Daily (with the exception of the not unusual habit of mine of “ending” the “day” in some “shop” of “some dealer” “I know”) I “spend my time” amongst.  YOU ARE NOT THERE, ever.  I cannot even take you there for you’d either “mess it up” or “freak out” or “foul your pants” at an inopportune moment.  Trust me; you don’t even WANT to “go there”.
            WHY?  Because it really truly is outside the boundaries of everything that attracted you to antiquities and rare books in the first place and the “which” that represents “the stable” of “life”.  It is not clean, polite, pleasant, proper, placed, polished, positioned, poignant, picturesque, pigeon breasted, piffle or pietistical.  It is, for me, an active phylaxis that keeps... you... away from  There we find “FORGET THE MAP”.  If the mouse runs in and out of the eye socket of the human skull in the desert of human existence then I was very early this mouse.  If it does not, then I won’t be seeing you “later”.  This brings us back to after school adventures in my junior high school days.

[1]:  “NOTHING”:  The vast life where nothing happens, ever, excepting redundancies, infractions, disturbances, titillations and salty tales from mariners in port briefly from the sea of ...LIFE.  “Would you like something to drink?”.

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