My wife is beat with a capital “B” by pears with a capital “P.” But it’s her fault, actually. She started it.
I had the manly idea of going to the new mall today–things could have turned out much differently had I gotten my way.
“I think we need to pick all our pears today,” she said this morning. I cringed inside because I knew that the “we” she mentioned meant mostly me. Bye-bye, air-conditioned mall with pretty fountains and overpriced clothes that can gobble up your family budget with a single bite. Hello, pears.
But it was the responsible thing to do since we’re trying not to dip too deeply into our savings while I wait for my first normal paycheck after a long summer. You might remember that we did the same thing last summer to help make ends meet–selling fruit wholesale at our local bazaar. I knew she was right.
And it turned out that I didn’t do all the work. I picked the high pears using our turn-of-the-century cast iron ladder that weighs about 800 pounds yet still shakes like a leaf while Abby picked the low pears and sorted (see photo below).
Our kids also helped by shaking the ladder, eating the pears, and dumping over the wheelbarrow.
I loaded our car with pears in containers and bags of various shapes and sizes and prayed that it would go well selling them to my contact at the bazaar.
My contact was excited to hear from me when I called to say I had fruit to sell. But her countenance changed when I showed up in person lugging a couple bags of my wares.
“Why are the pears so ugly?” she asked.
I had been hoping to sell them at a higher price than last year to account for the currency devaluation, inflation, the rising cost of living and the fact that I just gave her too good of a deal last time.
But I was stuck because she was my only contact and I needed her to buy my pears, so we agreed on last year’s (low) price. As the transaction unfolded and I toted bucket after bucket of pears from my car, I thought of the verse from Proverbs:
“Bad, Bad,” says the buyer, but when he goes away, then he boasts.”
I couldn’t shake the feeling that she might not be being honest with me, but the last thing I needed was to take the pears back home to rot so I tried to be thankful.
It turned out to be 57 kilograms (125 pounds) of pears. “From the heart,” she said as she paid me.
Cash in hand, it was my turn to buy a few things at the bazaar, and I quickly remembered all the reasons I don’t like shopping there:
1.There are ROWS and ROWS of fruit and vegetable sellers offering (from what I can tell) the same stuff at the same prices. Yet bazaar-goers roam from seller to seller, buying a few things here and a few things there. It’s seems to me it would be much more efficient to buy everything from one seller, but that’s obviously not the case because no one does that. So I follow suit by shuffling here and there, inquiring about the prices and pretending to inspect the quality of potatoes that look exactly the same as the potatoes at the other ten vegetable stands I just passed.
2. Because there are ROWS and ROWS of sellers, there’s always a nagging feeling that someone out there somewhere is selling those potatoes (or cheese or motor oil or whatever) you want at a lower price, and if you just shuffle here and there a little longer you might find them. When I finally did settle on a potato stand and proceeded to buy a kilo and a half, another potential customer walked up and complained that these potatoes were too expensive and cheaper ones could be found elsewhere. I took my overpriced potatoes and left. Foiled again.
3. Everyone thinks they’re a bazaar expert. I’ve long ago given up telling people what I spent on something at the bazaar.
Me: “I just bought these for ______.”
Good-intentioned bazaar-savvy friend: “You spent that much? What a rip-off. When I go I always get a deal. Next time you need to go to the stall at the end of row 39. Ask for Masha. She’s only there on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but she’ll sell those to you for 10 cents cheaper.”
4. After wearing myself out shuffling here and there in my pursuit of the ever-elusive deal, I finally just give up and drag myself to the nearest stand with my shopping list. The seller can see that I’m obviously suffering from an acute case of bazaar fatigue. Less-than-honest sellers take advantage of the fact that I’m so worn out I’m willing to pay whatever they ask–no negotiations.
I limped home from the bazaar around 3:00 pm to find everyone in my house…napping.
Unfortunately, only half our problem was solved. We still had another 125 pounds of pears too small and ugly to be of interest to the bazaar seller.
I woke Abby up from her siesta and suggested that we make pear sauce (like applesauce). It was her turn to cringe because she knew that the “we” meant her. Pear sauce sounds so innocently simple, but it’s actually complicated: chopping up the pears, boiling them down, pureeing them, and finally canning them. In addition to that, it generates a substantial pile of dishes to clean and pear sauce gets everywhere.
After over three hours in a hot kitchen transforming pears into sauce, Abby had a serious case of canning fatigue. I helped get the last cans out of the boiling water because she was lying down exhausted on the bench in our kitchen. Plus, I needed to justify my use of the pronoun “we.” Otherwise I couldn’t honestly say, “We made pear sauce.”
We dragged ourselves to bed. Thank God for our pears and thank God that’s over.
The bazaar on a crowded Saturday afternoon.