ANECDOTE 031: October 2, 2013
The Pretzel Man [listen]

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 paperweight.

"Strong breeze," complained the attendant. "Those toddlers are so fascinated by wind-wisped tissues, letting them go, floating away like a balloon," she added.

"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!"

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Copyright © 2013 by Edward K. Brown II, All Rights Reserved