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Stupid Things at the Flea Market: One Man's Trash is Another Man's...Trash

Updated on April 22, 2011

Refuse That Refuses to Go Away

Over the course of a typical human being's lifetime, he or she will acquire approximately 48 metric tons of useless crap. There's no hard evidence to support that claim, but if you've ever stopped by a thrift store or checked out a flea market you'd likely see more than a little truth in that statement. Much of that junk will wind up in a landfill somewhere along the winding roads and changing whims of life. It's just human nature, really. We discard the things we no longer need and replace them with other things that will also one day find themselves at the bottom of a Rumpke dumpster.

But sometimes they come back. And sometimes certain folks put price stickers on them, hoping to capitalize on some unfortunate soul's misguided nostalgia and poor taste.

Recently, I traveled to the nearest flea market and found myself knee-deep in things better suited for the city dump than any store. What follows is photographic evidence that human ingenuity knows know bounds, and that mankind's appalling tackiness is truly immortal.

Cookie Monstrosity

One of the first things you'll notice upon entering this just-down-the-road-a-bit flea market (other than the persistent musty smell and lack of anything resembling air conditioning) is the plethora of scary clown memorabilia. I happen to be of the mindset that all clowns are at least a little creepy (thanks to too many horror movies and a regrettable childhood circus experience), but the stuff on sale here takes coulrophobia to another level entirely.

Take, for instance, this item. I don't know whether it's an just an oddly-shaped cookie jar or an urn containing the ashes of Cookie the Clown from the old Bozo show. Either way, I'm not eating anything anyone puts inside this little confectionary container. Any food receptacle that's likely to consume its owner is better left the deepest pits of Hell that forged it.

And it's just a guess, but I tend to think that Hell is Hell simply because there are no cookies there - just a bunch of jars that look like this, all full of Chips Ahoy crumbs.

Fears of a Clown

Next up was this anonymous would-be artist's ode to homelessness and homicidal madness. Looking to spice up those bare walls in your den? Living room? Basement full of human corpses? This oil painting of a sneering hobo might be just the thing you're looking for. And if you happen to be looking for decorations like this, it's a safe assumption the police are probably looking for you.

It's been said that art is humankind's most subjective form of media. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it all basically comes down to personal taste. Whoever buys this nightmare on canvas has probably tasted a lot...of people.

Now You're Playing with Power?

With the economy still in a bit of a downturn (to say the least), not everyone has the funds readily available to spring for a brand new PS3. But thanks to the good folks behind the above pictured "Power Striker 2010," lack of disposable moolah is no longer an excuse for missing out on some quality gaming.

$24.95 gets you access to dozens of games, hours and hours of family entertainment and a blue million copyright infringements. Each package includes one fake Nintendo 64 controller, one imitation Sega Genesis pad and, of course, the obligatory semi-automatic handgun. I guess the pundits are right: videogames are getting way too violent these days.

But the best part of owning your very own Power Striker 2010 is finally being able to play the 1983 arcade classic, "Mr. Mary," at home for the first time. Sure, it looks an awful lot like Nintendo's Mario Bros. game, but the folks behind this not-so-state-of-the-art piece of gaming goodness swear any similarities are completely coincidental.

It's not mentioned anywhere on the box, but each package also contains well-deserved shame and lack of respect and reverence for others' intellectual properties. It's like owning a cheap plastic version of every episode of Glee.

Chesty Potato Chips

Truth in advertising is hard to find these days, though I think this box of potato chips from the 1950s sets a new mark for product pretense. No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is indeed a package for "Chesty" Brand Potato Chips, the world's first tater-based snack for breast augmentation and manly pecs.

No, I can't believe this was ever marketed under this name anywhere on planet Earth either, but this came from a simpler time - one where snack foods and incidental sexism happily co-existed. It was also a time when you could say something like "Bring me some of them Chesty potato chips, woman! I don't care if you're eight months pregnant. And get me my cigarettes, too. If I have to miss 'Howdy Doody' one more time because of your lazy behind, I'll slug ya in the jugs!" Well, that's my vision of a happy marriage in the '50s. Then again, I wasn't there.

Anyway, calling your chips "Chesty" is probably a lot better than marketing them for what they really are. It's doubtful anyone would buy "Can't Fit Into My Pants Anymore" or "Massive Heart Attack at the Age of 42" Brand Potato Chips. That's just a hunch of mine.

I Pity the Fool That Buys This

It's a long-accepted truism that Mr. T is totally awesome. T's popularity in the '80s eventually reached a marketing fever pitch, which culminated in enough licensed products to fill a thousand A-Team vans. There were action figures, a cartoon show, a completely awful rap song ("Treat Your Mother Right") and...whatever the hell this is.

And that's a good question, because this life-long Mr. T fan is at a loss to describe this thing. It's, um...a picture of Mr. T...and a couple of plastic fists molded together...and that's about it.

But things get curiouser and curiouser when you take a look at this odd warning label attached to our little mystery item:

 That's right. "Do not spray directly into face." And that's good advice for just about anything, really.

If You REALLY Like Seafood...

Captain D's is a wonderful place. It's long been my favorite seafood restaurant, and I'm happy as a clam (Ha! See what I did there?) anytime I get to go there. It's fine seafood dining at its very best - a place where the fish tastes like fish and the hush puppies taste like onion-covered puppies. It's also a far sight better than that other famous seafood place, Long John Silver's.

So what better way to commemorate one's love for tasty fast food fish offerings than the oddball cross-stitch above? Answer: there isn't one, matey. Hanging this elegant depiction of a smoking sea captain in your dining room is sure to start a conversation, fishsticks for dinner or no.

We'll sit 'round the dinner table and spin yarns of daring exploits on the high seas. We'll sing songs of ocean-faring adventures. We'll get scurvy. We'll discuss the finer points of wooden limbs and smelling like deep fried dolphin anus. All the time.

You know, typical sea captain stuff. I may have to go back and buy this.

Today's Secret Word is "Hepatitis."

Mekka lekka hi, someone probably had this in their heiney, yo.
Mekka lekka hi, someone probably had this in their heiney, yo.

Pee-Wee's Playhouse was the Saturday morning staple at my house. It was an hour of complete and total insanity that my sisters and I never failed to miss. And how could we? There was a talking recliner, a magical genie, Laurence Fishburne dressed as a cowboy... What more could you ask for?

Toys! That's what! And the people behind the Playhouse didn't disappoint in that regard, either. Just about every character from the show was immortalized in plastic and plush in some way, not the least of which was the talking "P.W." pictured above. I just don't remember any of them having this many stains.

Now, what you see in that lackluster cell phone picture there is a rare and long out-of-print talking Pee-Wee Herman doll. It's rare simply because these were pulled from the shelves due to "the P's" shocking display of public indecency in an adult movie theater waaaaaay back in the summer of 1991. It's true. Parent groups went into an uproar over Pee-Wee's run-in with the law and wound up not only *gasp!* getting the Playhouse canceled, but also removing all Pee-Wee Herman toys from any and all store shelves.So basically, finding one of these dolls in your flea market usually qualifies as discovering a mostly-forgotten treasure.

Just not this one. This Pee-Wee was covered in more indiscernable stains than a low-rent motel's most sullied bedsheets. Seriously, Jambi the Genie couldn't have conjured a spell that would have gotten this thing clean. Also, though you can't see it in the picture, Pee-Wee's legs were twisted and deformed as though he'd finally crashed that scooter he used to ride off on at the end of every episode. Around a tree. At 800 miles per hour.

As a result of that, this Pee-Wee Herman doll stayed at the flea market, much to my own sadness. I just can't understand how the previous owner of such a great piece of '80s nostalgia could have treated this would-be treasure so poorly.

And you thought Randy was an asshole.

What'cha Gonna Do with All That Junk?

That's it for this episode, kids, but I promise I'll get back to the flea market (and Hubpages!) as soon as I can. I plan to make this a semi-regular feature, so check back often.

What are some stupid things you've seen at the flea market or thrift store? Garage sale? Let me know in the comment box below.


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    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 3 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Haha, came back in here and re-read it for a bit of distraction, procrastination and a chuckle. I'm working in my garage today, getting ready to have a garage sale. But I won't have any finds for sale like those pictured above!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 3 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Love this Hub. Thanks for the smiles!

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 4 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Hilarious! There's nothing to take your mind off the economy and other woes like a Saturday morning at the flea market!

    • Phillbert profile image

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Awesome! This is a great read!

    • brentbrown98 profile image

      brentbrown98 7 years ago from Indiana, United States, Earth

      Thanks, Simone! I did a little research on those chips and found that they were pretty darn popular in the '50s and '60s. I think that tin was only about $15. It's actualy worth it just as a conversation piece. :) Thanks for reading!

      And Sam, you need only drive to Shelbyville, Indiana to find these awful things. If you can stand to be surrounded by all that horrible clown imagery, go for it! Thanks so much for reading!

    • sam3m profile image

      sam3m 7 years ago from New York

      where can i get this stuff? it all fits into my philosophy of life: if a thing exists, i need two of it.

      great hub.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh my gosh- those potato chips!!! Hilarious Hub.