Flea markets are frightening places but you can find very cheap tea towels that you can later use as blankets.

Conversation I had this weekend between myself and a very grumpy flea market vendor who reminded me a lot of my dead grampa:

vendor:  That fabric you’re holding is really old.  I can let you have it for 75 cents.

me: I like it, but I’m not sure what I’d do with it.

vendor:  Fine. 50 cents.  But I’m not giving you a bag for it.

me:  Oh.  No, it’s not the price that’s the issue.

vendor:  Well fine, Miss Moneybags.

me:  You know what?  I’ll take it.  Can you break a ten?

vendor:  You’re making me give you 25 cents off an antique tea towel when you had ten bucks the whole time?

me:  Wait.  This is a tea towel?  I thought it was a table runner.

vendor: It’s a very large tea towel and you are robbing me blind.

me:  Dude. I will happily pay the extra quarter.

vendor:  No.  A deal’s a deal.  But I can’t break a ten so you’ve gotta to go the the beer tent to get change.

me:  The beer tent makes change?

vendor:  They do if you buy a beer.

me:  But I don’t want a beer.

vendor: Well then get me one and we’ll call it even.

me:  This is all just an elaborate ruse to get me to buy you beer, isn’t it?

vendor:  Busted. Don’t let ’em put ice in it.  That’s how they get you.

And that’s the story of the time I bought a 50 cent towel with a four dollar beer because I felt guilty for accidentally being so insulting nonchalant about not needing a 25 cent discount.

Largest tea towel ever, as displayed on my ever-present Christmas tree. Also, it wasn't until after I downloaded this picture that I noticed Ferris Mewler glaring at me from inside the tree the whole time. I'm pretty sure he's pretending to be that creepy girl from The Grudge. Way to scare the shit out of your mother, Ferris Mewler.

149 thoughts on “Flea markets are frightening places but you can find very cheap tea towels that you can later use as blankets.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I have some old bath towels for sale. I’ll let you have them for 75 cents each, or two Cosmopolitans. (They’re bigger than dish towels, that’s why they cost more.)

  2. I’m pretty sure I had a shirt made out of that same fabric when I was a kid. And yet my mother still questioned why I often played alone in an appliance box.

  3. This print must be from Joann Fabrics’ ever popular “Aging Hookers of the Old West” line. It did very well on the flea market circuit.

  4. In what world would you have put that “table runner” on your table. Flea markets are the reason they invented change…just saying

    and also, that flea market guy is a hell of a salesman

  5. I think he should have brought you a beer. And that tea towel looks like something Ma & Pa Ingalls would make their blind child wear. (I’m sorry if I just insulted your taste in tea towels.)

    Or… ooh ooh, It’s Ferris Mewler Fort House On the Prairie.

    Some one get the cane.

  6. ‘And him, with his poor sick mother ? You have to haggle …” nod to Monty python.

    love the tea towel, love the cat, love your posts most of all.

  7. Wow. I hope you never go to car dealerships without backup! But on the bright side….you’ve got your Christmas card for this year. Meowy Christmas from Ferris Mewler and the Annie Oakley Tree.

  8. Love the kitteh photo bomb! He does not look amused to have his space decorated with cowgirls, perhaps he prefers Buzz Lightyear.

    Can’t wait to see what you do with the oversized tea towel. (you would use that as a table runner?) Perhaps sew up some beer cozies, that seems karmicly balanced 😀

  9. Ah, the ever wise flea market vendors. Was he a small Asian man with a long moustache? ‘Cause they’re the ones who are meant to be all confusing and mysterious.

    I suppose your guy was only confusing, so maybe he was only half-Asian. In which case you might not be able to tell. Best test: see if he’s there next time. If not, then did he ever really exist at all? (oooOOOOoooo *cue creepy music*)

  10. I need that old con-man with me now. At least the funny story distracted me from the fact that I am waiting longer for prescriptions than it took for the dentist to drill in to my tooth and fix the problem. I would gladly buy someone a beer to be out of this CVS. Also the tea towel is cute I live in the same area as you why can’t I find neat things like u do?

  11. I have generally avoided flea markets for the scare factor, but I think I would happily attend with you. Plus, your flea market has beer? I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing…My flea market has large, old farm equipment, and I don’t think those two items would mesh well…

  12. Ok, my cat is pretty frickin cute. But that cat, YOUR cat, is quite possibly the most adorable cat ever. I think you should make him a little vest and some chaps out of the tea towel. He’s so cool, he could totally pull it off.

  13. Here in NC we’re lucky if anyone speaks english. Most of the flea market vendors down here are either asian or latino so any type of communication is full of lots of hand gestures and loud shouting to try to get your point across. Hysterically funny!

    BTW, the cat poking out in the photo is hilarious!

  14. “But I don’t want a beer.”

    I was pretty sure that Obama consenting to re-open the military tribunals at Guantanemo would be the most disappointing thing I heard today. Congratulations.

  15. That is the ugliest tea towel I have ever seen someone purchase with a beer. It’s officially a conversation piece.

    I wonder what else you can buy with beer?

  16. I don’t think you should keep calling it the Christmas tree. It is more of an all occasion festivity/laundry tree. Christmas trees have lights.

  17. You are so funny. How do you meet these people in life? Seriously! I love the story. And you. And your new tea towel. And the fact that you still have a Christmas tree.

    I don’t trust cats, so I don’t love the cat.

  18. I’m just going to throw this out there… I think Humpty Hump got genital warts in a Burger King bathroom.

    Also, go buy me a beer and you can have my underwear when I’m done working out for a nickel… ok a dime, but that’s my final offer.

  19. Holy hidden kitty, Batman! The only thing cuter than the kitteh photobomb would be wrapping said kitty up in your beer-bargained tea towel/table runner/hookers of the Olde Weste head scarf and taking a picture of that. But then Ferris Mewler has extra toes, so I’m assuming that means extra claws? So maybe that’s not such a good idea. So maybe instead you should just put the tree by the front door and let Ferris scare your houseguests.

  20. Your cat scared the shit out of me just now. Seriously creepy. But that grumpy guy – what a con artist. A good one, but still a con.

  21. Ho my god so I’m not crazy! There is an actual cat staring at me through your old x-mas tree!

    I’m so glad you made note of this because I definitely sat here thinking….wtf…there’s a cat staring at me through her christmas tree…I think…or maybe not, maybe I’m just going crazy…no no…that’s a cat…I think…

  22. When did the cat get named Ferris Mewler?? I can see my damn grad school assignments have cut into my Bloggess reading!

  23. I like this guys moxie. Also, what the hell is a tea towel supposed to be for? I’d google it, but I’m incredibly lazy.

  24. If by really old he meant like 4 years, then yeah, it’s really old. If not, he shystered you out of a beer. Gabi and Sam both had comforters made out of that material a few years ago (well Sam had cowboys, not girls). If you came to see me more often you would have known that. So you basically paid the bad sister tax.

  25. We broke with tradition this year and actually took our Christmas tree down during the month of January. The kids were disappointed that we won’t be decorating our traditional crunchy brown Easter Tree this year, and all three cats keep walking around looking like, “Where the hell did the jungle gym go?” But the tree is now out back on the burn pile. Along with last year’s Christmas tree. And our Hurricane Ike debris.

  26. I am just as shocked as you are that that is a tea towel.

    I’m bringing mine right back to the guy selling invisibility cloaks on the corner and demanding a refund.

    He’ll never see me coming.

  27. I would have gladly paid 2 beers for such an awesome tea towel! But I have never had a vendor sell me anything for 75 cents except for a big pickle u buy at ball park consession stands.
    Ferris is adorable! Watch out for ninja cats

  28. My cat does exactly the same thing. Except she usually takes out about 10% of the ornaments on the tree during the process.

    Glad to see the economy is encouraging the return of the barter system!

  29. The tea towel of obscure cow-people?

    Wait..Is that the gender neutral way to say cowboys and cowgirls?

    Cause now that I’ve typed it out I’m afraid it suggests alien people shaped like cows.

    Or plague ridden people who were turned into cows.

    And I started this comment out planning to mention how I have tea towel with Stonehenge on it. My flow is way off.

  30. I’m still getting over the fact that my Christmas tree is still up too and I didn’t think of using it to hold clothes & things.

  31. –>I felt like the tea towel was looking at me til I realized there was a cat underneath it. Scared me to death!

    You’re not the only one with interesting exchanges. At least I was holding up my end of the conversation to be interesting. Click my latest post link below.

  32. Wow. I hope you plan to burn that $4 dollar scam towel. It can be part of a “lessons in bargaining” ceremony.

  33. Great tea towel. Just to check, you do know that fake Christmas trees are full of lead, right? You are exposing yourself and the cat to a lot of lead by putting stuff on the tree/letting Mr. Mewler in there. I hope you at least wash stuff/your hands afterward so you don’t get lead poisoning. But if your teeth are already getting loose, that’s a bad sign for you. Real tree up in March is okay, fake green tree up in March is deadly. Tinsel trees should be pretty safe, though, if you just want an indoor fake pine tree. Alright, I’m done being overly solicitous of your health.

  34. I didn’t notice the cat until I read your caption under the picture. Congratulations, your cat has scared the crap out of more than just you today. Have you ever noticed how much joy cats get out of that? They lurk in hopes of such an opportunity.

  35. I’m more concerned that you HAD to have a tea towel with chicks wearing cowboy hats than I am that the flea market guy was kind of a douche.

  36. I love your cat so much.

    And, my 10yo was reading this over my shoulder and saw your tagline, “Like Mother Theresa, Only Better” and said, “who is Mother Theresa?” and then she started to answer her question with a question: “Is she the one who said something funny but so stupid?” Oh dear. Homeschooling Fail.

  37. The Pioneer Woman is going to want that. It’s unfortunate you’ve already said what you paid for it, but you can use mere possession as your bargaining strength.

  38. Oh good! Your Christmas tree’s a fake! I was really worried when you mentioned it was still up the other day, and I was imagining this horribly desiccated dead tree surrounded by all the needles that’d fallen off. And then I was thinking of you hanging your laundry on it, and the dead needles sticking to the laundry, and that would defeat the purpose of actually doing the laundry (which everyone knows is to get the cat hair off, and replacing cat hair with evergreen needles doesn’t seem like much of an advantage). So I feel better that your tree is fake.

    Also I’m impressed that your cat can climb your fake tree. Our cats play with the ornaments but don’t really climb the trees, real or fake. We have to have one of each every year. I’m not sure why. You’ll have to ask my husband, but I’ve learned to pick my battles and that’s not one I’ve picked. Yet.

  39. There’s a cowBOY version of that fabric. My son’s crib set was made out of it. The cowboys rocked but the cowGIRLs are creeping me out a little. Specifically, the grandma cowgirl. But they’re probably more appropriate for a “tea towel.”

  40. I love this bloke. By any chance was he Australian. They will do anything to get you to shout them a beer.

  41. This is a very cool tea towel. I love how it cost you a beer – information you never wanted – that type of tea towel used to be made with linen and is called a glass cloth because it is used to shine glass (dur). So your man was right to ask for a beer. I’m from Northern Ireland, we know about linen.

    I’m really boring tonight, sorry. I’ll think of something witty after I’ve finished being boring and hit Submit.

  42. I have zero knowledge of what a tea towel is. Do those bitches who drink high tea with their pinkies in the air use them to dabble at the tea drooling outta the corners of their mouths?

  43. I don’t mean to be abrasive (I just happen to be–all of the time) but that, while charming, is no tea towel. Tea towels , by definition, are small and cunning so I suggest you go back to that vendor–if he hasn’t fled the goddam country by now and get your money back.

    Not that it isn’t cute. But it’s no tea towel.

    I love that cat, by the way. He obviously knows his way around a Christmas tree.

  44. That’s almost as rockin’ as the tent trailer fabric my partner just bought. I’m apparantly going to make cushion covers. We’ll see about that.

  45. This just made me crave a flea market beer.
    I like your creepy little stalker kitteh. Awesome. Me thinks the fabric isn’t as old as the vendor implied either, but it is cute nonetheless.

  46. I am actually watching on ebay some cushions made from this very fabric! (and also some with pictures of semi naked construction workers that my husband doesn’t want me to bid on for some reason…

  47. Was he an older guy with a white beard and wearing a brown robe? Was he telling you, “This is the towel you are looking for. You want to buy me a beer”, by any chance? Did he have a younger, annoying guy who whined a lot with him? I think we’ve run into the same dude.

  48. How in the hell am I just hearing the name “Ferris Mewler” (which is BRILLIANT)? I am not the ‘the blogess’ stalker I thought I was. *shame spiral*

  49. HA!
    I don’t even know what a tea towel is, but that fabric would make a killer Snuggie.
    And the wild tree cat in your house seems to love the wardrobe/animal shelter/Christmas tree you still have up. If you take it down, sleep with one eye open.

  50. Ok, I totally did not even notice the kitty in the tree until you said something. It was like one of those terrible Where’s Waldo books where I never found Waldo, but everyone else could in three seconds flat. So now he is scaring you *and* giving random strangers self esteem issue. I think his job here is done.

  51. “a very grumpy flea market vendor who reminded me a lot of my dead grampa.”

    You negotiated with a grumpy zombie and all you can talk about is the dumb towel?!

  52. Like Ceiling Cat but cuter… and hopefully not watching us doing anything inappropriate.

  53. I’m always worried that I’ll run into an old boyfriend, especially the loser one that was the only one to meet my Dad before he died of a heart attack. If I saw him, I would probably go broke buying crap from him because I still feel kinda guilty about leaving him by having my new boyfriend pick me up at his house.

    So it’s good that you scared me off. You’re saving me money.

  54. I think it’s about 12 kinds of awesome that Ferris Mewler was hanging out in the tree and managed to get into the photo!

  55. It’s true, Ninja cats really make the holiday season.

    I can’t believe you were suckered into the beer. Jenny, you are smarter than that!

    You should have bartered with kittens on heroin postcards. Then EVERYONE wins.

    p.s. I think I am dying. That is all.

  56. Didn’t realise how hot Cowgirls were back then.
    Did you wash it? I would have washed it. You never know where it’s been.

  57. Holy shit. I think a cat named Ferris Mewler secretly hiding in a sad March 8th Christmas tree that you defeated in a sick game of Chicken with an oversized cowfolk teatowel draped over top is the funiest fucking thing I have ever seen. Bravo.

  58. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send that to me, and I will use it as a breast towel drape in my last semester of massage school. Really, you weren’t sure what you were going to do with it! I’ll pay to ship it! What better use than to know it will be lovingly wrapped around the breasts of women, as I’m sure that’s how the cowgirls would wish to spend their retirement.

  59. okay, i totally didn’t see the cat until you pointed it out. and then i laughed for 10 minutes straight because it freaked me out. Awesome cat.

  60. I am pretty sure that is actually a cowgirl scarf with a handy tutorial right on it. Your cat, however, seems to think it is a super power cat. Little does he know, cats already have powers and the brilliance in it is that they dont need capes.

  61. Jenny,
    Don’t worry about being judged for leaving your tree up too long. My tree, Bob, laid in his box in the living room for an entire year because last year my son wouldn’t get him out of the attic last year because he was mad that I named “a piece of plastic” “Bob”. I nearly killed myself getting Bob out of the attic, so there was no way he was going back in. Besides, Bob was depressed for the entire year because my son thoughtlessly said he was “just a piece of plastic”. Not even new accessories cheered him up. We ended up putting fake black crows (left over from Halloween) on him and celebrating around our “Hitchcock” tree. Way to go son.

  62. Thanks to you, every time I start laughing for no apparent (to him) reason, my husband asks, “are you reading the bloggess?”

  63. Finally got my tree down two weeks ago…but there is still a wreath in the bathroom and two little snowmen. No snow. It’s 55 degrees. They love to live on the ragged edge of disaster.

    I have to correct you about the tea towel for the price of a 4 dollar beer. You got much more than cowgirl camouflage for your Christmas tree…you also got the material for another great blog. That is priceless!

  64. Am I the only one who thinks the gray-haired cowgirl looks like Bea Arthur?

  65. pah, i’m an antique dealer’s daughter, and if that’s a tea towel, then i’m that cat in your tree.
    not that i wouldn’t be your cat, in your tree. might be nice, i dunno. how comfortable is the tree?
    wait, this is sounding worse, and worse.
    anyway.
    pretty special fabric, there. i am pretty sure i had a cowgirl outfit made out of a similar fabric, once upon a time, when i was small enough to convince me that such an outfit was in any way a good idea.

  66. I am shocked and amazed that the Bloggess was conned, although I totally would have been as well, just not with that particular object. The thing is is that is no tea towel, just a hemmed piece of fabric that isn’t very old, as your sister and others have pointed out. I’m a quiter and have seen it in several shops and magazines. Sorry. The Ninja cat, however, is really cool. Also we had our Christmas tree up and decorated until August one year, so I WIN!

  67. I was wondering what you would even do with that thing when I had the vision of you cutting all the faces off and sewing them all over an all-jean mumu dress. Pretty.

  68. I’m pretty sure I had a cowgirl vest made out of that material when I was seven. I can see Hailey in one (with a tutu over chaps, of course). It seems Ferris Mewler, covert cat at large, loves his new fort. And, If our flea markets had a beer tent, they would be a lot more interesting.

  69. Did I forget how to use the internets? ‘Cause I’m trying to make my bank people all “I knew she wasn’t rigt” when my statement reflects all the uncut cocaine I’ve been buying. They’re total bitchin’ snobs everytime I go in that damn place to GIVE THEM MY MONEY. Assholes. Anyway, I was hoping in the process I could acquire a “Carry on, mother fucker” shirt, but can’t seem to find any more in your store. PLEASE tell me you haven’t discontinued the Nancy. W. Kappes, paralegal (and all around bad mother fucker) line. I don’t think my tender sensibilities and fragile little heart could take it.

  70. Ferris is doing a Kringus impersonation, methinks. (pvponline)
    Kudos to the vendor…I imagine that’s a great way to stay beered up during the day. I’ll write that in my “dirty tricks for jobs I hope I never do” notebook.

  71. For some reason, I picture this vendor looking just like Walter Matthau. I miss that man.

    And your cat is seriously awesome.

  72. Why would anybody buy a tea towel, especially one with those oldy drawings on it-
    are you having tea in the 50’s?

    But as long as you’re into shit like that, I have a codpiece with all of Shakespeare’s main characters on it.
    I know you’re gonna want this; it still has some original pubes stuck to it
    (you can tell because they’re hand-curled as was the custom then)

  73. My husband once bought Cold-Eeze so he wouldn’t have to walk to the counter with just condoms which just made him look like he was about to have sex with a sick person… which is kinda true but I don’t think Cold-Eeze is meant for my brand of “sick”.

  74. Am I the only one that doesn’t know what the hell a tea towel is. I mean I’m assuming it has to do with tea. But why do you need a towel ? Wouldn’t a napkin suffice. Maybe many tea drinkers are just very messy.

  75. Well that’s a pretty tricky strategy for getting a beer. It’s like a sales item that you have to buy a lot of other shit to get. Those circulars are damn sneaky.

  76. I have a very ugly purse that my daughter picked out for me for Christmas. It’s looks like a bright gold elephant’s ass. I could let it go for a nice shiraz and 37 cents.

  77. Thanks for the sales lesson! No beer, thanks, but I’ll use this to teach all of my English-speaking unemployed flea-marketing friends how to get vending-machine cappucino for free. All of us turn a little ferocious after a week of collection agencies calling, and then Saturday morning the customers all turn into Scott Walker and decide that we’re union members who deserve 50% pay cuts.
    Hope he kissed you, ’cause you definitely got screwed. The fabric’s about ten years old, and the piece probably is a bandanna or scarf, not a tea towel.

  78. I know I’m a little late here (hey, catching up, ok) but if you haven’t done anything wih that fabric yet, I totally want it. I will do something awesome with it, and if you want I will make something awesome and send it back to you. It is so awesome, you don’t even have to include the cat.

  79. I’m loving this blog. I just had to comment on this. I got a bag of fabric scraps from my mother-in-law. I was going through it today and I SWEAR there is some of that fabric in it. Awesome. LOL

  80. ‘Cause I’m trying to make my bank people all “I knew she wasn’t rigt” when my statement reflects all the uncut cocaine I’ve been buying. I’m loving this blog.

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