I have a difficult relationship with fruit stands. I love them. Their owners hate me. The last time there was a fruit stand near my apartment, my relationship with the owner was so bad that he left the neighborhood. Though it’s possible that the fruit stand’s removal had less to do with me and more to do with the owner’s immigration status.
Whatever the reason for leaving, the absence of the fruit stand left a hole in my life. Every day I’d walk past the old fruit stand and, for a moment, mourn its passing. Then a new fruit stand moved in – a double wide fruit stand. The kind of fruit stand that takes up more room than an outdoor cafe. It was a beautiful fruit stand, but I wasn’t ready to accept it yet. Instead, I waited to see if this one would play me false and be gone before the season was out.
It had been there for two months when I finally bought some produce. I stood there for a while – in the rain, it happens – and contemplated. I squeezed a few avocados to see if any were truly ripe. I eyed the cherries. And nectarines. And mango. All the while I wondered why there was no one manning the fruit stand. Could a downpour really persuade a fruit stand owner to abandon his customers – and cart?
Not that it bothered me. I contemplated some more. Then, suddenly, there was a man at my elbow, taking the avocado from my hand and slipping into a plastic bag. I asked him for a pound of grapes, too, please.
“I didn’t think you were going to buy anything,” he said. “But he -” the man gestured at a younger man standing under the eves of the nearby store “bet that you would.”
“He’s a good man,” I said, with a thumbs-up to the man who had faith in me.
“I lost the bet,” the fruit stand man told me, as he gave me my change.
I thanked him and, with a scowl at the fruit stand man who didn’t believe in me, I took my produce and walked off.
The fruit stand is still there, but I haven’t seen the owner since. Do you think he’s avoiding me?