Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Chinatown 2: The Revisiting

I thought I'd seen everything, ladies and gentlemen. When the Berlin Wall fell November 9th, 1989, once again uniting East and West Germany, I cried. When John Glenn lifted off for a second time at age 77 to become the oldest person to ever travel in space, I cheered. And when Tootie used a Hearse to take her driver's test in episode #147 of The Facts Of Life, I nearly crapped my pants. But after this weekend, it became clear that I in fact hadn't seen everything.

On Saturday, I traveled with a friend to the downtown district known as Chinatown. She was looking for "a purse," which in Chinese means "3 or 4 purses." We browsed many store fronts, "fronts" being the important word for the day. More on that later.

It is bizarre to see little, old ladies trying to push merchandise on an unsuspecting public. You see them and think they're going to give you a sugar cookie or something, but instead they say, "I got what you need. You need something? I got what you need."

After one lady strolled up to me and told me she had what I needed, I said, "You have an original, still-in-the-packaging, mint condition Star Wars Millennium Falcon action playset??" She looked around shifty-eyed. And then, wouldn't you know it, out of her pantaloons came an original, mint condition Star Wars Millennium Falcon action playset, still in the packaging. Amazing, I thought.

"I'll give you $5 for that," I said.

She said, "What? Look, mint condition. You look, still in packaging. Hard to find. I sell for $15."

Here's where my haggling skills come into play. Watch and learn, ladies and gentlemen...

"Deal!" I said, grabbing her hand almost violently and then shaking it.

Haggling Skill #256
When you want to end your haggling session and accept the given offer, yell "Deal!," grabbing the person's hand almost violently and then shaking it.

So, I had what I came for. Now, we needed to find a purse for my friend. But where? Where in Chinatown would we possibly find a purse, specifically one that's inexpensive, poorly made, and sold by big, burly males who seem to know an awful lot about purses for being so big and burly?

At last, success! Hidden away behind all the purse stands was a purse stand. This purse stand looked much like a garage. I think it was the garage door which made it look that way. The walls reminded me of a Payless shoe store. And also a garage. Hung all over were purses, purses, purses of all colors, shapes, and sizes. The big, burly gentleman managing the place was eager to please and was a master "purseman," I might add. His knowledge of purses seemed to explode out of him.

"Here you go. This one shiny. Glitters a bunch. Make you look real pretty for going out to dinner," he said. "Here, you look. It opens, it closes, it glitters. It real shiny."

"You sure do know your purses, sir," I said. "I mean, come on," I said to my friend. "What other choice is there? This one opens AND closes! And LOOK, it's all glittery and shiny and shit."

But, alas, despite the expert sales pitch, my friend wasn't convinced. She quickly glanced at the three walls of the purse stand which weren't a garage door. She asked the purseman if he had anything else, besides what was on display.

Here's where the purseman became very quiet. He looked us up and down suspiciously. Then, he went to the back wall of the garage -- I mean, purse stand. Oh fine, it was a garage, okay? It was a garage dressed up to looked like purse stand. Are you happy?

Anyway, he went to back wall of the purse stand and, after looking out onto the walkway entrance for a second or two, knocked on the wall three times.* To my surprise, a small section of the wall, maybe 5 ft. high by 3 ft. wide, clicked and then opened up.** There seemed to be whole other section of purses available, probably the ones which were acquired through legitimate channels, and not ones which were in any way illegal. ***

The purseman gestured for my friend and I to go inside. My friend went in to look at the recently uncovered purses, which again I can only assume were obtained through the most honest and reputable channels. I mean, let's be frank here, people. Some purses are just too non-illegal to be kept in the front. Am I right?

The purseman closed the door behind her, then he asked me if I wanted to go inside, too.

"No thanks," I said. "Just make sure she comes out again and doesn't become part of some illegal, underground, sweatshop slavery ring, alright?"

Haggling Skill #128
If the person you're shopping with is suddenly removed from your field of vision, be sure to tell a nearby clerk that you don't want them to become part of some illegal, underground, sweatshop slavery ring.

Well, I'm happy to report that my friend did come out of the tiny door, and was completely unharmed. She did smell like a cock fight, but that's neither here nor there. Unfortunately, she didn't find a purse.

So, broken and beaten, we wandered the streets of Chinatown aimlessly, hoping to find another stand that sold purses. Five feet later, we'd found one. And, astonishingly enough, we'd passed ten on the way.

Well, my friend eventually found a purse, and a fun time was had by all.

Chinatown Fun Fact!
Not many know this about Chinatown, but its people, its hundreds of restaurants and shops, and its booming fruit and fish markets are actually 87% purse.****

* I'm not good enough to make this part up.
Or this.
Or this.
**** This, I am.


At 7:43 AM, Blogger Emily said...

Maybe your friend should write a guerilla shopping guide to NYC. I know some ladies--and gentlemen--who would kill for some of those legally-obtained purses.

At 9:31 AM, Blogger DLAK said...

Maybe your friend should write a guerilla shopping guide to NYC. I know some ladies--and gentleman--who would kill for some of those legally-obtained dog parts.

At 9:32 AM, Blogger DLAK said...

Maybe your friend should write a guerilla shopping guide to NYC. I know some ladies--and gentleman--who would kill for some of those legally-obtained dog parts.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger hannah said...

andy i found your blog last night and sent myself an email at work so i could spend company time reading your archives instead of my own precious free time at home. it is hard make phase II report editing seem like an activity that one would laugh out loud at ones desk while doing...

At 12:27 PM, Blogger oneka said...

dude, you're too funny! i'm in college and i'm in stiches... who are you, show your face dammit!

At 1:16 PM, Blogger jenn see said...

sounds like a conspiracy of purse-lords, a secret society of pursemasters.

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Luke said...

I laughed so hard at this post. I had to minimized my browser a few times just to try to regain my composure, only to once again recoil into near tears from a line like:"After 5 ft we found another purse stand...surprisingly we had passed 11 along the way."

At 3:23 PM, Blogger missweb said...

There are very few blogs that I keep a regular eye on, yours is now a mainstay on my list. Funny, well written and very much enjoyed up here in Canada!

At 3:42 PM, Blogger chattiekathie said...

Dear Dr.,

what a great bedside manner already! You were the 1st blog to catch my eye, and then I couldn't stop reading or laughing!

Oh, just want to let you in on a secret also........with a purse a lady must have shoes!!!!!!!!!!

At 4:16 PM, Blogger Tiger Lilly said...

I was just there 2 weeks ago, and was surprised you didnt mention the know, the little old ladies who stand near the curb and run up to you whispering in your ear, "You want Louis? I have Louis. Chanel? Fendi? Gucci? What kind of bag you want?" I love it. I feel so deliciously naughty...and apparently I would get to support terrorism by purchasing a fake Louis bag.

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Eric Smith said...

Lucky you. You're the recipient of my very first comment. Great stuff! I don't normally read people's blogs if I don't know them, but I may try yours out.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger iliana... said...

Wao.. I'm suprised, I just entered here because Im in love with New York, and i miss being there.. you know nostalgia took a hold of me, and I had to come in an read. Let me tell you I was in a really bad mood at the moment (a very weird thing in me) but your blog changed all that.
Chinatown is a crazy thing, I remember people selling me things I didn't want.. and lowering its price just because I was standing there looking at them with a "I dont know why are you selling me this face".

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Palacio! said...

all i have to say is that i loved that story.... i feel her pain though. when my work sent me to manhattan it was all about buying the $100 zippos that magically became $5 on the streets!

At 8:06 PM, Blogger Skanda said...

Way too funny!

At 9:00 PM, Blogger citizen said...

I had to research the Chinatown fakes market for a magazine story and found much of what you describe. I felt like I was buying drugs, but what I left with was not as exciting or as fun as drugs.

At 11:25 PM, Blogger AshleyCox1216 said...

Just browsing, getting acquianted...
I sympathize with the inundation of tiny chinese, as they flood the streets of Chinatown. Recently there on vaca - New Years.
What type of internship?

At 11:37 PM, Blogger Yavi said...

Was once in Chinatown by a purse stand and I was witnessing a transaction which I found funny.
A 20-something year old woman asked the stand-owner to show something from the selection. The owner takes out black purse. The woman, after examining the purse, asks: arent you supposed to have "brand name" purses? The owner answers: Ahh yes yes brand name... she reaches down and pulls out a large piece of wax paper containing cloth patches of all the brand names you can think of. The woman chose Tommy Hilfiger, and I have to say that it looked pretty good after it was attached.

At 11:37 PM, Blogger Yavi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:44 PM, Blogger Milky White Mike said...

Yoshi from the forums...good stuff here. I'll be checking it more often from now on. The action figure part killed me, lol.

At 1:10 AM, Blogger Pip said...

Great blog entry. I laughed 'til I peed.

But then, I do that all the time. Sometimes at nothing.

I guess that's what these pills are for.

At 1:42 AM, Blogger Maria Palma said...

Thanks for the good laugh!! (BTW, I'm a purse freak so it made me laugh even more...)

At 5:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your work.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger microwavablekat said...

i love your story, hilarious! youre bookmarked! haha

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Atlantyze said...

A fabulous story indeed! I had a good laugh on this already long and exhausting Thursday morning at work!!!

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Amber said...

I liked your story a lot. You should write a book. I bet it would be a best seller.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger TheMysterious1 said...

I really enjoyed your posting. The funny thing to me is that I've lived in New York the majority of my life. I often go to Chinatown to shop around, until now everything you mentioned seemed the norm to me until I saw it through someone elses eyes. It was great... thanks for sharing

At 1:10 PM, Blogger TheMysterious1 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Lia said...

I'm a born and bred New Yorker, and I couldn't stop laughing at this great story. At work. With my boss watching. I tried, really, but it was just too good. You've made it onto my favorites list with a single post!

At 3:21 PM, Blogger little al said...

Now that's a funny story. That was so funny, I had to look up the first one and read it. Very nice.

At 4:25 PM, Blogger uuummmm........ said...


At 4:46 PM, Blogger azgopbabeval said...

I gotta tell you that I am sitting at my desk laughing. I took the liberty of reading all of your past blogs. THANK YOU for providing me entertainment while I am at my lame-ass job- YOU ARE MY NEW HERO.

At 9:36 PM, Blogger spainlife said...

its bad karma not to buy the first purse you see.

At 11:09 PM, Blogger The Captain said...

Well, I have to admit that you beat me to it. I wanted to be the first person to say "about crapped my pants" and "she smelled like a cock fight" in the same blog post. You are a true master of the English language. Not to mention an expert shopper.

At 11:12 PM, Blogger Carney Man said...

Pretty good writing dude. Chinatown sounds like a southern flea market, lots of people selling stuff that accents them: crazy-bearded-shotgun-toating-backwoods men offering expensive cheap perfume.

At 2:26 AM, Blogger Rx King said...

My oh my...aren't we Mr. Popular? :P

At 3:06 AM, Blogger Shirazi said...

Your blurb "About Me" caught my attention. What a nice way to document your life. I am sure you will climb the ladder pretty fast. Remeber I commented when you are at the top. Your site is a nice place to be at.

At 3:21 AM, Blogger brokemon said...

see, in china town in san francisco, the old ladies focus less on peddling goods and more on making you hungry. if an old lady tries to get your attention on the street, what will occur over the next 2 and a half hours (if you're a tourist from london or are traveling cross country to sow your royal oats or something) is a description of a dish soooooooo delicious, you're likely to snort it for kicks. "Small dish! BIG FLAVOR! People come! People come and say! SOOOOOO DELICIOUS!"
it's rather like offering yourself to a hypnotist to be turned into a moneky on stage in front of thousands of people. Let me tell you, the dish is not "so delicious" and while it is small, it is not "big flavor."

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Charlie Hice said...

I love New York. Past memories.
Never got to Chinatown. Great
sense of humor.

Most people, in Ohio, think that
new yorkers are rude. I don't think
so, but I must admit that
retired workers in Florida are rude.

I spent years in New York. Now, I
am saddened that I missed Chinatown!
Keep writing about New york.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger D.B. said...

Them Chinee sure do talk funy.

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Masha said...

hahaha, i love ur blog its hilarious!!! you should think about becoming some kind of writer

At 6:46 PM, Blogger Jester of Alba said...

I am in awe! I liked and shared (with my employee)the first of your posts that I read. After she went home (shaking her head and once again insisting that I was crazy), I read this post. I loved it and I am not even into purses.

At 11:34 PM, Blogger Grace said...

Now if you *really* want a bargain...walk away before concluding the transaction. Oh, and that garage? There are whole tunnels down there you can't even imagine!

At 7:11 PM, Blogger aziz said...

man, this blog sucks. just kidding, its funny. its really really funny. i laughed so many times when i read your story about the purses, and the chinatown. awesome. i love you, andy. i fucking love you, im sorry. now please, can we please have more comments here about how funny you are? cause you are, man. and more people need to be posting that, because its true. **this is a sarcastic comment about how many people post mindless comments about how funny you are. but seriously, its a great blog, and youre a terrific writer**

At 3:09 PM, Blogger sideshow bob said...

I, for one, refuse to go to Chinatown. At least until they stop being so mean to Tibettown.

At 2:44 AM, Blogger hlpngkdsgrow said...

Laughing out loud in the middle of the night on the first blog that I've ever read! I guess it's all down hill from here.

At 5:49 PM, Blogger jdubbyya said...

man, its great to have a hearty laugh at 5:45pm on a friday while sitting at desk, waiting for the last 15 minutes of the work week to end.... i for one love chinatown in all its purse glory.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Lea said...

ya. man. u r like OMG. SO HILARIOUS! .. LOL. the urge to post a mindless comment overtook just now. hum. actually i was just curious about the couple of post u removed.. (hummm?) lol
and u R pretty decent- writer.

At 11:39 AM, Blogger Ahotmess said...

You described Chinatown to a tee! I love it and have to visit every time I travel to NYC.

At 11:00 PM, Blogger jon said...

I am looking everywhere for vans shoes and vans shoes, while doing so I somehow stumbled onto your vans shoes blog. I am happy to say I learned something and will look into this further...

Thanks for the great posts...


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At 5:42 PM, Blogger jessica said...

Hey Intern,

Wow great bargaining advice. I am going to try the violent handshake next time I'm in Chinatown. Check out this video I found on Chinatown.

Apparently there is a good bakery, anyone been?

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At 6:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA - Same kinda story. i told the lil lady i wanted the"good" coach and chanel... she then leads down into the subway, through a door, through a passage way.. used her walkie talky then knocked on another door that opened into a huge room full of bags on all the walls. LOL... I ended up hagiling this lady down a ton, and she kept arguing on the price, until i said "this is all i have, i guess ill just leave and not buy anything" she then looked shocked handed me the bag and took my money. it was quite funny..... lol

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Hot Tubs said...

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