Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Other Side of the Lemonade Stand (aka The Canary in the Coal Mine and Other Aviary Atrocities)

The food truck vendor was even more charming than usual tonight.  When asked how my day had been, he was not satisfied with my brief but courteous "meh", he wanted to know more about why it had been so.  As sincere as he was, I still wasn't sure how I was going to explain to him the source of my lament, which just so happened to be:  "I didn't stop at the lemonade stands."

See what I mean?  Even you look perplexed.

I will try to explain.

Many years ago (like 39) I spent a blistering summer afternoon watching my first lemonade stand fail miserably. As I sat there and watched car after car drive by without stopping, disillusionment began to creep in. So I did what little kids everywhere do when they don't understand grown-up behavior...I promised myself that when I grew up, I would stop at EVERY lemonade stand that I passed.

I will confess, over the years I have broken more promises to little me than I have kept.  Like "I will always shop in the Juniors section" or "I will never ground my kids".  But this one has been different. In fact, it's almost impossible to break. Just the frenetic energy alone that erupts when these young entrepreneurs see a car actually pulling over is enough to make you keep coming back for more.

That is until today, the day that I was just too busy and too stressed to stop.  It was a big day for the stands too. It was the season opener to end all season openers.  It was the first day of summer break PLUS the first day of high temperatures which equaled THREE lemonade stands on my way to and from my errands. It was killing me.  But I passed by every one of them like the traitor that I am.

And I think I could have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for that stupid bird.

So there I was driving and minding my own lemonade-less business when a bird flew out in front of my car.  He was doing that little kamikaze-dive thing that they do sometimes. That thing where they give you a heart attack as they swoop down in front of your car but just when you are about to hit the brakes they pull out of it and fly off laughing to tell their buddies. Right?

Well, not today.  Today the dive was followed by a small thud, or maybe it was more like a thip, but whatever it was it was the sound that little bird heads make when they clip your windshield.  It was the thip of karma. It was the thip that called me out and told me that by not being true to myself I had just unbalanced the universe.  And it came with a question: Was I really that attached to my little stress-fest?  It was 39 years later, and there I was still not understanding grown-up behavior...and this time it was my own.

I learned my lesson, this time from the other side of the lemonade stand.

You know, you don't even have to drink the lemonade. Sometimes it is rather questionable.  But you do have to stop and be a part of the magic of that time honored childhood tradition and all that it symbolizes.  You are giving them more than a quarter and taking more than a cup.

You will see what I mean.