A crisp Saturday morning (10:00am), a man was pushing
a collapsible two-wheeled hand cart stacked with three
cases of soft pretzels. The Pretzel Man, on a diagonal
path through the City Square, stopped briefly to say
"Hello" to the municipal park attendant
and volunteer groundskeeper who were sharing the responsibilities
of carefully raking up fallen leaves from beneath
the knee-high shrubbery. Amongst the leaves were discarded
food wrappers and napkins thought to have blown away
from the previous day's lunch crowd who carelessly
lifted their soft drink that was being used as a makeshift
"Strong breeze," complained the attendant.
"Those toddlers are so fascinated by wind-wisped
tissues, letting them go, floating away like a balloon,"
"I find the baby-sitter," said the groundskeeper
assertively. "I encourage the sitters
to handle their responsibilities and teach those kids
to pick-up their trash, recycle, or something.
The sitters feel bad. They do have a hard time trying
to chase down the paper and keep an eye on the kids."
He laughed with empathetic satisfaction, kicking a
divot into the freshly dampened soil, then stamping
his foot to pack the displaced turf.
The attendant admonished convivially the Pretzel
Man for the abundance of wax paper she and the groundskeeper
had to wrestle from the shrubs. The Pretzel Man pleaded,
"Not my fault," adroitly casting blame on
the nesting birds and squirrels before changing the
subject to the topic of his grandchild's behavior.
The attendant and groundskeeper shared likewise stories
about their extended offspring. The attendant bragged
that her oldest little kiddo was about to start
the fifth grade. The groundskeeper intoned, "...
almost a teenager, soon to be a young adult...."
The three conversationalists (attendant, groundskeeper,
and Pretzel Man) paused to look off in a distance,
careful not to touch on any personal faults of their
own, nor any prior familial disappointments.
Their chit-chat was intentional. The Pretzel Man
was not passing through the Square on a shortcut route
to deliver the cases to a nearby neighborhood mini-mart
and by chance run into some longtime friends; on the
contrary, he stopped to talk in order to get unofficial
permission from the attendant and the groundskeeper
to sell his pretzels as well as get an endorsement
affirming to the casual-goers within sight and/or
earshot that he was there to do 'legitimate' business,
a business most familiar to the folk-foodies, the
locals who had been raised on this accustomed delicacy.
A couple of loyal patrons had been waiting for the
Pretzel Man's arrival, sitting on their bench,
reading a newspaper, wondering when the heck was he
going to get here.
"Should be only a few minutes now," one
patron turned to comfort another a few adjacent benches
over. Relieved, another, finger trembling, pointed
to a figure beside the one growing impatient.
"How many," the Pretzel Man inquired.
"Just one," stated firmly.
"Not two?" A lousy attempt to upsell jokingly.
No verbal reply. "Okay. Mustard? Oh yeah."
The Pretzel Man cringed for being forgetful. With
a quick upside-down shake of the plastic squeeze bottle,
a perfect figure eight stream of the 'yellow stuff'
one liked to say.
"No need to apologize," stated the patron
with a facial-ticked grin. "Here you are,"
he said paying.
"And here you are--a wonderful day,"
said loud enough without shouting, emphasizing to
potential customers his friendly demeanor.
"See you later," confirmed another before
taking his first bite. "Oh, wait. Gimme some
to take to the house. They'rah, to share with my wife.
My staple diet; hers too."
"Yeah, yeah--right. Don't worry. I'll come back
around in about an hour or so with a another batch.
I'll have five in a bag for you individually wrapped."
"Understood. I understand. Make sure you come
back, or I'll send five looking for ya!!!"
"Okay. Alright. You just remember to freeze
'em tonight, defrost as you go. Toaster oven. No nukes!"