Be wary of the treasures you give away, as you may spend your future trying to track them down again.
THE IMPULSE BUY. THE MUST-HAVE DISCOVERY. The new obsession. These are the flea market enchantments that divert us from our carefully prepared want lists. And we’re usually glad of it. The unexpected find can feel like a lottery win.
But I’ve made a resolution for
2019 (yes, already). My flea-market excursions will cover more territory and focus on one theme: my personal list of mantique holy grails. Of course, the holiday season is upon us, so anybody who has me on a gift list is welcome to preempt my quest. Be warned, though, my heart’s desires run toward the pricey.
Grail number one: a vintage comic book spinner rack. The passion involved here is 100 percent baby boomer nostalgia. In my mind’s eye, I keep turning and turning a chock-full rack of 10-cent memories. That means its old-timey authenticity is going to be more important than condition. If it spins, I’d be fine with some rust and a broken weld or two amid the wire slots. The best ones I’ve seen offered online still have tin-lithograph “COMICS” signs on top and start at (ouch!) $700.
Grail number two: a sports card vending machine. More boomer yearning? I would dare to describe it differently, as, ahem, industrial art. I had one for a couple of years; it was an aged metallic red and still capable of dispensing cards at three for a nickel. I didn’t appreciate what I had, however, and didn’t want to lug it across country when I moved. Now I’m in reacquisition mode, preferably for one with original display cards that would date it—i dream—to the late ’50s.
Grail number three: Once again, what I want is simply what I want back. My electric guitar from teenagerhood was a hollow body Harmony in an intense red. It ended up mangled by airline baggage handlers, and I don’t feel I can relive the ’60s without another. Unfortunately, I’m not alone. If there are droves of guys chasing Fender Stratocasters, there are at least packs of aficionados pursuing my Harmony. Thing is, I’d settle for one in less than good working order. Merely showing it off in a selfie might be as much of a ’60s tribute as I should prudently attempt.
Realistically, I may have more than a oneyear mission in front of me. But the downside is actually an awfully sweet upside: I might have to go to dozens of flea markets I’ve never been to before.