I am powerless over several things— the movies “The Godfather,” “The Godfather Part II,” and “Almost Famous,” donuts, babies, French fries, and Beatles music.
Whenever I am flipping channels and one of the first two Godfather movies are on— no matter what I am doing, and no matter if there are only 20 minutes remaining— I have to stop and watch until the end. The same goes for my favorite film, “Almost Famous.”
I cannot turn down a donut. It’s true. There is something embedded deep into my genetic makeup that sends a trigger to my brain every time someone offers me a donut. My head says don’t eat that. It’s bad for you. It’s nothing but fried bread dipped in sugar and you are going to feel like taking a nap in 30 minutes. But then that genetic abnormality kicks in and raises its ugly head sending an automatic signal to something deep down into my DNA forcing me to immediately grab the donut and eat it.
It is a known fact that if I am in a room with a baby. I cannot leave the room without holding that baby for at least one minute. I love holding babies so much I volunteered to work the nursery at my church. That lasted one Sunday. I don’t look like your average church-nursery worker. The faces on the young mothers looked terrified when they handed their babies over to me and I thought it best to find a better place to volunteer, like in the area where they pass out the donuts.
French fries? I’m hooked. Have you ever noticed that even bad French fries are kind of good? Beatles music? I’m toast. If I’m turning the radio dial and a Beatles song is on, any Beatles song— even cheesy Paul songs such as “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” or “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,”— I have to stop and listen.
The same goes for lemonade stands. I cannot pass up a lemonade stand, and even if I could, why would I want to? It’s America at its best— little entrepreneurs setting up shop in their driveway or on the sidewalk in front of their parent’s home, creating a product, attaching a monetary value to that product, dealing with inventory and production issues, honing marketing skills, developing sales pitches, and working on practicing hospitality and service hoping to make a profit at the end of the day. It’s as American as, well, as a lemonade stand.
The other day I came home from work and three young girls had set up a lemonade stand in their parent’s driveway across from my house. I got out of my car, walked directly over, and bought a cup. They asked for 50 cents and I gave them a dollar. As I was standing there waiting for my lemonade to be poured, several cars passed by, looked, even slowed down a little, and then kept driving.
It takes a black heart not to stop at a lemonade stand. What’s two minutes and 50 cents out of your life? The only excuse for not stopping at a kid’s lemonade stand to purchase a Dixie cup filled with lemonade is in the case of a medical emergency, or if there is a Beatles song on the radio and you don’t want to get out of the car (in which case one should ride around the block until the song is over, unless said song is “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” in which it is permissible to stop the car and purchase lemonade as long as one turns the volume down on the radio so as to not to upset the children and chase off future business).
As a kid I set up a few lemonade stands out side of my house but I lived on a street that had almost no traffic. It was my first learned lesson in the restaurant business— location, location, location.
When my children were of lemonade-stand age, our street was too busy and our front yard not suitable. Nevertheless while working on my second book with my friend and watercolorist, Wyatt Waters, he stated that he needed to include a painting of a lemonade stand in the book. Our across the street neighbor, Mrs. Dews, loaned us her front yard and Wyatt completed the painting, minutes before my son drank up all of the profits.
Only peaches taste more like summer than lemonade. Even store bought lemonade tastes pretty good. My mother used to make the frozen concentrate variety. My grandfather made it from scratch. It’s easy: Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water, heated until it dissolves, then cooled), freshly squeezed lemon juice and ice.
So here are your marching orders: For the remainder of the summer, stop at every lemonade stand you see. Take two minutes out of your life to help a kid, relive your youth, and take solace in the fact that lemonade and donuts don’t mix.
Note: The author apologizes in advance for planting the song “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” in your head and hopes that it won’t be playing in the back of your mind for the remainder of the day.
1 46-oz can pineapple juice
1 small can frozen orange juice
1 small can frozen lemonade
1 quart ginger ale
Add enough water to make 1 gallon