I fear that if I described a place as “a time warp,” it wouldn’t be as impactful as it once was. I find myself using the comparison fairly often due to various trips to old dingy antique stores or crappy flea markets that all look like they stopped operating legally in the mid ’80s. These are usually my favorite spots. To me and friends like Dinosaur Dracula it’s become commonplace to find ourselves at a hotel, store, carnival, or Christmas display that has been preserved somewhere in time. Same as it ever was…
There’s opposing ideas at work here. It’s quite astonishing that there’s such a newness to old places we’ve never set foot in that simultaneously feel so familiar, as if we have been there a hundred times.
For us, the thrill has not disappeared.
Often though, the thrill in question doesn’t inject my spirit with enough juice to immediately compel me to memorialize it on my blog, at least until the right time.
Whenever I feel like I’m building up some really decent motivation with a steady pace of blog updates, I get knocked off the ladder. Whether it’s a job situation, an issue with my condo, or just plain physical fatigue, publishing a blog post that summarizes in detail how there’s one line of dialogue in an obscure movie where they mentioned a random town in New Jersey is not even in the top 10 on my to-do list. I certainly wish it could be, but you know how it is sometimes. These occasions seem to pop up more and more as time goes on. In fact, one of them happened last summer.
We visited a really cool place and here I am writing about it 6 months later.
The aftermath of one of our Monster Mania con trips is the stuff of shame. You may have thought I was gonna go with “the stuff of legend,” but, embarrassment, blurry memories, foul language, obnoxious behavior, late night wandering, later night second wind drinking, surreal elevator rides, absurd verbal exchanges with complete strangers, are much more accurate. All of it builds to an extra long car ride home that seriously makes me contemplate what I’m doing with my life. But, fortunately, we had Tequila.
After a night of nostalgia, chaos, and noise, we (Freddy in Space, Dinosaur Dracula, the ladies, and myself) got very little sleep. At some point in the night, at least a couple of us were involuntarily cemented into the same position we’d been in moments before falling into our little mini comas, some of us with our faces set in that weird about to say something look. It was a sight to behold. It’s like that scene when all the citizens of Oz turned to stone in Return to Oz. It was bleak and somewhat horrifying.
The next morning, we were dragging ass. For some reason, the TV is ALWAYS on and blasting when we wake up, tuned to some poorly produced infomercial for a local car dealership. Once the self loathing surges to record levels, we realized that the sun was out, it was actually a nice day, albeit a few degrees too warm, and blindingly sunny, and that we had to get the fuck out of there as soon as possible.
For the ride home, it was all about the energy drinks and the most random mix of music on my iPod to power us through the drive up the New Jersey Turnpike. “If you wanna go and take a ride wit’ me we three wheelin’ in the fo’ with the green and Dino Drac and Ms. X in the back.”
With the surge of motivation derived from the Red Bulls and 5 Hours that were miraculously keeping our hearts pumping after our Monster con bender, we couldn’t just head home because that would be us tapping out, and defeat was not an option.
It would be an automatic fail if we arrived at home without taking some kind of detour on the way back first. If anything, it breaks up the monotonous drive. And I’m not talking about just rolling into Cracker Barrel with fanny packs engaged, wearing our Zubaz pants either, I said, “Let’s go to one of the most famous flea markets in the entire tri-state area.” I said it exactly like that too, as if I was in a local TV commercial for the place with the owners niece holding a balloon as his Guido cousin touted the 3000+ vendors and the 56 dining options including pretzels and meat sandwiches. “So come down to the Columbus Flea Market, Route 206 in Columbus New Jersey!” That ad probably ran right just before the car dealership infomercial on TV that prompted me to rise like The Undertaker from my temporary departure from consciousness earlier that morning.
In hopes of finding some dumb old toys, we all unanimously opted in for the flea market. After all, nothing cures a hangover quite like dusty old records, military supplies, and crates full of paint-chipped action figures.
Known as one of the oldest and biggest flea markets in the area, The Columbus Flea Market made us feel like we literally entered a time warp. Interest gauge: Piqued. Mood meter: pinned in the red. Who needs to be whisked away to beautiful Waikiki when you can can be abruptly hauled back to a flea market circa 1990? That rhyme scheme was completely unintentional, but pretty slick.
Unfortunately, it’s right at this point where you’re realizing that all this fluff was just a lead-in to Part Two where we’ll delve into one of the “special” shops we stumbled upon during our exploration of the Columbus Flea Market! Come back to read about it tomorrow!