Chinatown 2: The RevisitingI 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 #128If 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.
* I'm not good enough to make this part up.
** Or this.
*** Or this.
**** This, I am.