Taking A (Fruit) Stand
Shopping for ripening perfection
by Pat Piper
Along Highway 258 every weekend during the summer are three farmer’s stands, each with a wagon. If they are really working the room, a tractor may be attached to the wagon. (It doesn’t matter if the tractor doesn’t run; it just makes the experience all the more authentic.) I have a favorite and always stop to buy corn and cantaloupe.
So to make conversation other than the usual how-you-do’n? I ask the farmer if he has a cantaloupe that will be ready at 8:45pm, when I intend to serve dinner guests a fresh fruit bowl.
He puts his hand on each of the cantaloupes stacked on his wagon shaking his head and saying too early or that’s a 5:15 or this won’t work until next week.
Finally, he touches one on the top and announces, This is 8:55. I’m sorry but that’s the closest I can get.
I tell him I’ll take it and will just start dinner 10 minutes later.
Paying for the corn and the 8:55, I turn to face a woman who has been listening to this. Past her, I see one of those huge SUVs that are the cause of global warming, continued U.S. reliance on oil, auto accidents because nobody can see around them when pulling into traffic, the disappearance of bees in Southern Maryland and pose as the poster child of the Me Times we live in. Aside from that, I really have no opinion about SUVs.
I didn’t know cantaloupes have a timer, she announces, marveling at this newfound newsflash. Looking past me, she locks onto the farmer and says I need one for 6:30 this evening.
The farmer doesn’t miss a beat. Well, I have this 5:15 right here but if you’re not in a hurry, I may have a 6:30 someplace. He starts going through the melons until his hand stops on one over to the side.
Ma’am, this is a 6:20. I just can’t do better then that, he told her.
Do you think they have a 6:30 at one of the other places up the road? she replied.
The farmer looks at her, staying in character. I would suggest you go to the next guy and tell him I sent you and make sure he goes through each of his cantaloupes to find the right one. I’ve just had a real run on 6:30s today.
I’m standing there absolutely dumbfounded at what’s occurring right in front of me. Suddenly, I am witnessing why this country is in such a mess, why Paris Hilton could actually win a U.S. Senate bid and why there really needs to be a Tax on Stupidity, which could even out the National Debt that’s increasing $1 billion-and-change every day and probably leave money in the bank. Steny Hoyer is now the House Majority Leader, so he might be a good start to get this idea in front of Congress for a vote since money bills begins in the House.
It would be a great incentive for students. Don’t be stupid or you’re going to have to pay a higher tax rate. It would do away with American Idol shows, Dr. Phil, Bill O’Reilly and powerboats. No, it wouldn’t do away with SUVs. The world isn’t perfect.
The lady got in her SUV and drove off in search of a 6:30. I was glad she was heading in the opposite direction I was going.
By the way, that 8:55 cantaloupe was terrific. I really think the 6:20 cantaloupe would have been just fine, too.
Perennial Bay Weekly contributor Pat Piper spends his time writing amendments to the Stupid Tax when not making dinner.