|BITTEN AT THE FLEA MARKET
by Pamela Ross @1997
One Sunday a few months ago I was happily flouncing around lower Manhattan(as
I am wont to do on a Sunday when it's warmish and the sun is shining and the
flea markets are in full bloom), when out of the corner of my left eye, just
as I was casually Reebokking my way across Grand Street and Broadway, I caught
sight of a glaringly lopsided sign placed dead center in a parking lot flea
market, advertising "CLASSICAL CD'S, ONE DOLLAR EACH."
My colleagues and I, after years of musical toil ,subjected to the humiliation
of being sold for a dollar apiece?
Over my dead piano.
I pushed my way through racks of T-shirts and sweat pants, past tables piled
high with knick-knacks and incense and Grandma's old silverplated spoons,
stomped up to the bin of CD's and,yes,there they were, classical CD's for a
buck apiece, Pavarotti and Horowitz and Perlman lying dead and defenseless as
doornails on top of the heap, in broad daylight.
I reached down and plucked Pavarotti out of the bin and felt,
incredulously,the still UNOPENED shrink wrap crinkling under my fingers, a
virgin Pavarotti CD!
"Nice assortment,eh?" breathed a deep voice into my right ear.
"Nice?!?", I snapped "NICE?!?!? You think Pavarotti singing Puccini opera
arias for a dollar is NICE?! No one, but NO ONE sings opera arias for a dollar
anymore, let alone Luciano Pavarotti!"
"That's what happens with 'resale'", he replied testily.
"Yeah, resale! Sometimes things do better resale! Like classical music!"
Feeling murderous, I started rifling savagely through the
bin. What other classical musicians were down there suffocating with Vladimir
and Luciano and Itzhak?
"It's not like I STOLE them, or anything," said the voice, over my left
I squinted at him over my sunglasses. He was tall and plaid and vaguely
middle-aged, with a long greyish ponytail protruding from the back of his
black fedora, a half-eaten cigar dangling rakishly from his mouth.
A classical CD criminal.
"These ALL classical?", I asked, trying to regain some composure.
"Yup. Brought 'em down here from the UPPER EAST SIDE myself!"
"They were sitting there".
"On the, uh, sidewalk."
"You STOLE them!"
"They were in the garbage!"
I waved Vlad's CD in the air like a fly swatter.
"You shouldn't be selling these CD's for a dollar! Do you know how much WORK
Vladimir Horowitz put into this?!?"
Mr. Plaid Ponytail took a handerchief out of his shirt pocket and dabbed at
"Look,lady, tell you what. I'll give you a real bargain. Two for the price of
one. Here." He pushed Vlad and Luciano into my hand.
"I'll take Itzhak, too," I said,"it's not fair to leave him sitting in there
I snatched Itzhak, handed the vendor two dollars.
"Keep the change," I snarled.
"No,wait." He reached into the bin, pulled out another
CD, looked it over, handed it to me. "Here's another one,
some lady playing the piano with her arms flying up in the air, wouldja just
look at that! Got THIS one on East 89th in front of a..."
A trickle of cold sweat ran down my left armpit. I grabbed the CD and started
to shovel my way back through the crowd.
"Hey,lady!," the vendor raised his voice. "That piano player on the CD, she
looks like YOU!"
"Impossible!" I shouted back. "I'm a LAWYER!"
Of course the lady with the flying arms playing the piano on the CD was...me.
So what, you say. Look at the company you were in. Luciano. Vladimir. Itzhak.
Fine. Except that MY shrinkwrap was GONE. That meant that someone had ALREADY listened to me and had thrown me out! I had been violated and then discarded on the Upper East Side!
I had to get away from that flea market. Fast. I couldn't let the vendor of a
CD bin at a FLEA market in lower Manhattan know that I ...
Head down, I slinked back through the incense,the T-shirts, the jogging pants,
past Grandma's silverplated spoons, back across Grand Street, south on
Broadway, back home.
Home,where I could put my shrinkwrapless magnum opus in my CD rack, next to
Vlad and Luciano and Itzhak.
Where at least I was still... SOMEBODY.