For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Beka and the lettuce row.
Ten points to anyone who can identify the literary classic that closing line is stolen from. To those of you in the Burnt Hills contingent, we should all remember it from Mrs. Sankowski’s 9th grade English class.
But really…gather round. Grab a cup of coffee or tea if that’s your pleasure and settle in. This is a good story.
After working until sun down one night this week, Marie and I went our separate ways to clean up a bit before reuniting for dinner. On her way to the main house she mentioned, “Oh, if you want a salad for dinner, go out back and grab a head of lettuce.”
I immediately started to think of all the reasons why salad sounded like a bad idea. And all of the reasons are basically because the field where the lettuce is located is in the back of the property, about a quarter mile back, and since the sun had gone down, I had very little optimism that I would be able to travel to and fro successfully. Anyone who has had the misfortune of walking near me for any length of time can confirm that I am an accident waiting to happen. I routinely trip over air. I occasionally fall over while standing still. If you add darkness, unfamiliarity, and three inches of rain resulting in 3 million inches of slick Texas mud…the results are sure to be entertaining for some and painful for others, namely me. So I said,
“That sounds great…but I’m not exactly confident in my ability to retrieve the lettuce.”
To which she said, “Oh, you’ll be fine! Just grab a flashlight and your cell phone.”
Clearly she does not know the catastrophe she’s dealing with.
So, armed with flashlight and cell phone, I went off into the night, praying along the way that I would surprise myself with a new-found propensity for agility. (You can stop laughing now.) I made it through the first fence, the horse pasture, the second fence, the other horse pasture, and the stream before I noticed that I was being followed.
Luckily, it wasn’t Creepy Joe.
It was just a horse – apparently an intuitive one, since he knew right where to find his entertainment for the evening.
The mud at this point was fairly intense and I nearly faceplanted about 87 times while Mr. Ed brought up the rear and laughed at my expense. Finally, I made it to the field, unhooked the hot fence, and started looking for the lettuce.
Because there is no other way for this story to go, my flashlight decided this was a good time to be low on power. It was also at this time that the dogs from across the street sensed my uncoordinated presence and started barking at me, which did wonders for my nervous system and didn’t cause me to jump up and slip in the mud at all.
The good thing was that I knew where the lettuce was. Or, as it turns out, I knew where multiple plants that look like lettuce were. Or were they just the tops of another leafy vegetable? And shouldn’t I be looking for something with a head, as in a head of lettuce? It was this trail of thoughts that led me to wander up and down about ten rows of produce, not having the slightest idea what I was actually looking for. I didn’t want to call Marie because I’m already steadily holding first place in the Most Incompetent Farm Hand race and didn’t want to add “Doesn’t Know What Lettuce Is” to the current tally. Also, it’s not like I need anything to add to the list of reasons why I should not be allowed within 10 miles of a farm in the first place. So I pressed on, chiding myself with the facts of the matter: You are a 24 year old college graduate. Your favorite store is the grocery store. If you can drive around the country by yourself, you can find a head of lettuce with a dim flashlight by yourself. Not to mention, Jamie Oliver would be so ashamed of you if you fail.
Ten minutes, multiple internal lectures, and countless slip-and-slide moments later, I was still standing in a dark field with a dying flashlight and a horse mocking me from the other side of the fence, lettuce-less.
So I caved.
“I can’t find the lettuce…”
“You can’t find the lettuce?!”
“Ok…where are you?”
I proceeded to describe where I was and she proceeded to tell me what I was looking for, and it turns out my initial instinct had been right. But there are so many different varieties of green plants hanging out back there I could easily envision waltzing back into the house with mustard greens or cabbage or some type of Spanish kale and parading it around as lettuce.
Having a freshly picked head of lettuce in my hand made me even more attractive to Mr. Ed and his friends, who closely accompanied me on the walk home. Between having almost no light in mudslide conditions surrounded by the cast of the Budweiser commercials, I’m shocked to say that I made the entire journey vertically. It may have taken me nearly a half an hour, but I made it!
So there you have it. I hope the mental picture of me wandering among the lettuce rows in the dark of night lends itself to a Friday smile or two. Consider it my weekend gift to you.