It was really hot today. As I walked up my block on the way home, I felt I heard the answer to my sweaty prayers!
"Hey, lady! Lemonade! LEMONADE!"
Ah, the old lemonade stand…whatever happened to them? Didn't matter to me at the time, because, holy bleep what wouldn't I have given for a nice, cold glass of the fragrant beverage. And! Hurray! I had exactly fifty cents in my pocket.
"Oh, no, lady…it's FREE!"
I looked at the young boy as if perhaps he'd lost it a bit in the heat. Happens all the time. Plus, his cardboard sign clearly said: "Lemonade! Fifty Cents a Glass!!!"
Anyway, I followed him to his stand -- noticing his parents and young siblings watching him proudly -- and proudly plunked down my last two quarters.
"Fill 'er up!" I said, smiling.
There was a pause. I was hot. And in no mood for pauses. I Really. Wanted. Lemonade. What was the problem?
As nicely as I could -- which, given the temperature, probably wasn't as nicely as I could -- said: "Huh? What's the problem?"
"It's FREE, lady! You can take your coins back and here (the little munchkin said proudly as he carefully poured a rather generous glass), this is for YOU! ENJOY! (I swear the kid spoke in capital letters.)
And there it was…just for me. For ME!
Accepting it with thanks, I looked up at the two grownups. They both smiled at me, while I tried very hard to smile back before guzzling the (FREE) glass of nectar.
The Man: "Gotta teach our kids to learn how to make a living."
The Lady: "Gotta teach our kids to learn how to share!"
And then they explained. Seems that some guy came along about an hour before I'd arrived, plunked down a ten-spot, and told the kids to offer the lemonade gratis -- that would mean FREE -- to any and all who wanted it.
"Why, that was nice," I gushed. (I just wanted to gulp down the stuff, but, to my credit, I DID leave the two quarters on the table.)
"Damnedest thing you ever saw," the man continued. "Some guy paid for the whole inventory, provided our kids offer the lemonade for free."
"Really?" I replied. "Well, that's nice…"
"Yeah, but sheesh, how are the kids going to learn how to earn their own money?"
His wife interrupted, albeit graciously…and lovingly, I thought, her eyes looking back and forth from husband to kids -- the latter who were hustling like crazy to GIVE AWAY (sheesh, I've caught this capital letter thing) FREE LEMONADE to all the sweating, time to go home, next-year-for-sure-we're-buying-an-air-conditioner walkers.
"Yeah," said the dad. "Guess you're right at that." He smiled at the mother of his children (all of whom were still hustling what was left in the great big jug…not a lot, but still) and I walked home thinking "there's going to be some good lovin' in that house tonight."
And smiled. A LOT!
Entering our house, I offered my husband (who was sweating over his computer) a swig of my FREE LEMONADE and told him how I got it. And then? I heard a voice coming from upstairs. It was Mark…a man who's staying with us while studying at a local college.
"Was there any left in the jug?" he called down.
"Hardly any," I had to admit.
And then Mark smiled and I knew then -- and know now, because he admitted it -- HE was the ten-spot guy!
CAPITAL LETTER to you, Mark o' mine! Well played…very well played.
Sometimes I think I live in a rather poor neighborhood. Sometimes, like today? I realize I'm totally wrong. I live in a rich, RICH place, after all!
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