Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Strawberry Stoop Stand

My son hates strawberries. No, wait, that’s an understatement. He reviles them. In fact, he will actually gag when he sees a strawberry or similar kind of squishy fruit – he can’t even stand to have someone eating them at the same table as him.

I usually try to respect his strange yet undeniable strawberry aversion. But this past weekend, I decided to put him on an accelerated GUTI (get used to it) track and bring him strawberry picking.

This would be roughly equivalent to dropping someone with a rodent phobia into a rat-infested gutter. I’m not a monster. I am just a little exhausted of catering to his many phobias and aversions. I thought it could even potentially be fun.

We got off to a rocky start.

The strawberry farm, being a farm, was muddy. Primo hates mud.

“My shoes are getting all DIRTY!!!!!” he shouted, “I want to go HOME!”

“Just walk on the grassy parts,” I chirped merrily, “you’ll be fine.”

Then he stepped on something . . . something red and warm and squishy. It burst under his muddy shoe.

“IT’S A STRAWBERRY!!!!!” he screamed -- shocked, chagrined, betrayed, “WHY DID YOU BRING ME HERE!”

We wiped his shoes clean, we urged him to be calm and reassured him he didn’t have to pick any berries at all. But still our little pastoral romp in the strawberry field looked ill-fated.

“I hate strawberries,” Primo whined, “I wish they were never invented!”

And then, as it always happens, just as if someone flipped a switch in his mind, he got on board.

“I’ll stand on the side and be a spotter,” he conceded.

So Primo pointed out the good berries while David and I picked and Seconda ate rancid ones off the ground despite our protestations., When she tired of that, she lay flat down on her stomach atop the smashed berries and mud and basked in the sun. Little by little, Primo inched closer to the strawberry plants, in his effort to point out where the very ripest, very reddest berries were. And by the end of our little jaunt, he was even tugging them off the stem themselves. Phobia crushed. Victory is sweet. David and I are parents of the year!!!!

Of course Primo still wasn’t going to eat the repugnant fruit. And there is a limit to how many berries Sec and I can consume, so when we got back to Brooklyn, Primo, entrepreneur extraordinaire, suggested having a strawberry sale.

“Genius idea!” I said.

He made a sign, distinguishing his product from all the other stoop strawberries with a little embellishment (the dance is a figurative one, a kind of flavor explosion).

Then we headed down to the stoop.

Primo, it was soon clear, was a proponent of the hard sell.

“Straaaaaaawberries!” he shouted, “Red ripe straaaaawberries! Hand picked by meeeeeeee!”

When he saw someone passing by our stoop, he would direct this announcement at them, yelling it over and over again so that it was more assaultive than I (or the passers-by) might have liked.

“Why didn’t they buy any strawberries?” he asked crestfallen, after a handful of potential customers had passed us by.

“I guess they’re just not in the mood,” I consoled him, “Don’t lose heart. Give a berry to Sec and let her eat it.

She’ll be like a living commercial.”

He made three sales totally $.75 and when the fourth customer came and handed him a dollar, he was shocked to find he had to give the entire contents of his wallet over to the man in exchange for the bill.

“That’s OUR money!” he cried.

So I tried to explain to concept of “change” but I don’t think he got it because he just looked sad and defeated and asked, “Is this what it is like at a real strawberry sale? You have to give the money back?”

The man felt so bad he offered to let him keep the change. Of course, I declined his kind offer. But still, it did bring home the point: cute kids are closers. No doubt.

So anyone having a stoop sale this summer and needs a kid or two to bring in some business? Let’s talk.