Yesterday, my Dearly Beloved had been on his walk about 20 minutes or so when our phone rang. I didn’t have to check caller ID; I knew it had to be The Happy Wanderer.
His tone was quite jolly. No crisis. He gave me his location, saying that he was enjoying a delicious glass of lemonade at a refreshment stand run by a group of young entrepreneurs.
“The problem is,” he said, “I don’t have any money with me. They advanced me the lemonade on the honor system. Will you bring a dollar and pay them?”
DB has a history with lemonade stands. He has never passed one without stopping. I remember being dressed to the nines and on our way to an afternoon reception once when he suddenly braked and jumped out of the car. He returned bearing two flimsy cups of cherry Kool-Aid. I had him stop and let me pour mine out as soon as we were around the corner, afraid that I’d arrive with red dribbles down my front.
For someone who is phobic about buffet lines and who practically gags at the sight of a covered dish supper, the same man who won’t eat food without knowing its pedigree has consumed his weight in stale, store-bought cookies displayed at rickety Kool-Aid and lemonade stands over the years. I would not be able to get him to swallow one of those cookies if I crammed it down his throat and followed with a toilet plunger, but handed to him by a child’s sticky fingers (after he has paid a handsome price, of course) he will relish every crumb, then sing its praises.
If the little hustler’s price is too steep, DB has been known to offer a quick lesson in economics and negotiate a fairer price. If he comes upon a stand empty-handed, he stops anyway to wish the young entrepreneur success. More than once he has told them he’d try to find them a customer and then jogged on, pulling out his cellphone to recruit me.
A few weeks ago, although I drove over soon after his call, I could not find the stand. He had especially wanted me to go because the boy running the stand reminded him of one of our grandsons. I pictured a little blond boy telling his mother that a nice man had said he would call someone to drive over and buy some lemonade. She probably yanked him inside and disassembled that stand immediately. I was probably lucky the police weren’t waiting for me. Then again, the kid may have decided he’d rather play video games inside.
Yesterday, I put on my new walking shoes and hustled over to save the family honor. As is always the case, DB had continued on his walk after the call, so he was long gone when I arrived. There were six children working the stand and three moms sitting nearby, chatting. When I approached, a little girl stood up from a folding chair and waved a poster in my face, “LEMONADE 75¢”
“I’m here to pay off my husband’s debts,” I said, and pulled a dollar bill from the pocket of my shorts. One of the moms said, “Now give her a quarter change,” to the little boy at the cash box.
“No, that’s okay. When he called, he told me they said that they accepted tips.”
She laughed and said that I hadn’t needed to do this.
“He was so cute,” she told me, referring to DB. “He said he thought you were planning to take a nap, but he knew you’d come. I told him not to wake you!”
“It’s okay,” I assured her. “It’s not the first time he’s called from a lemonade stand. It’s just that you’re the first people to offer him credit. I’m thinking of pinning a dollar to his t-shirt.”
She found that hilarious.
Ever helpful, Dearly Beloved, who knows how much I love chocolate, had suggested that I might want to bring some extra money because they also had homemade brownies. Either their marketing skills were excellent and they’d sold out, or they need to work on their salesmanship. I’d had another dollar in the other pocket.
As DB was leaving for his walk today, I called out, “Take a dollar with you!”
He turned around and grinned.
“I’ve got a Five in my pocket.”
At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote. – Emo Phillips