Thursday, June 12, 2008

Really, Really Free Market

The weather has been so cold and crappy this Spring, it’s hard sometimes to remember all the good things about Portland. But as I was walking my dog in the park, I saw a poster advertising a “Really, Really Free Market.” Come check it out, the sign invited.

“Why not?” I thought. “I’ve got this bag of clothes I’ve been meaning to bring to the Goodwill anyway.” I wasn’t sure what to expect as I made my way to the park. A bunch of twenty-somethings with dyed black hair and Salvation Army clothes milled around eating from a pile of over-ripe produce, stale bagels and expired hummus. I dumped my clothes on the heap and took a look around.

It was kind of like a big community garage sale with “free” signs on everything. As a matter of fact, it was obvious that some things were leftovers from someone’s garage sale because there were still price stickers on the items. Someone was offering FREE HAIRCUTS. I contemplated for a moment, until I saw she was cutting with what looked like blunt-nosed child scissors and there was not disinfecting solution in sight.

People offered free bike repair, free face paintings, a free tarot card readings. A sloppy girl with dirty hair had a sign around her neck offering free hugs. I didn’t take her up on it. My favorite was the woman her brought her pet rabbit and offered “Free Bunny Kisses.”

As I left the park, with a few stuffed animals I intended to give to my dog to destroy, I was reminded of the bumper sticker I’ve seen around town. “Keep Portland Weird.” I don’t think we need to worry about that too much.

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