Fruit and Nut Stand
A Clarification About Fruits and Nuts
Near the ascent of a famously naked mountain in Marin County, California that I write about in The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter , I just started working part-time at a fruit and nut stand. It is not a prerequisite to become a fruit or a nut when assembling and disassembling the stand; just to show deference to the dispensed items. Nonetheless, one should not have an aversion to fruit nor nuts, and may even wish to nibble on one or the other. http://www.amazon.com/The-Ascent-Barbarious-Court-Squatter/dp/146370898X
Location of the Fruit and Nut Stand
Northwest a few miles is Mount Tamalpais, herself. Due east, below the elevated ridge where the stand resides, lies mysterious Mill Valley, Richardson Bay, Tiburon, ritzy Belvedere, desolate Angel Island, formerly haunting Alcatraz, and in the far distance, the East Bay and the summit of Mount Diablo, the tallest peak in the Bay Area. Glimpses of the San Francisco Bay are manifold, with a plethora of sea-worthy vessels strutting their stuff just by staying afloat.
The Boss at the Fruit and Nut Stand
My boss has owned the stand for 25 years. He is from the Old Country-- Greece. He speaks with a heavy Greek accent that he thickens further according to the demands of the scenario. The boss is a kind man with a witty sense of humor and keen awareness of the human condition. The boss often greets me, “Shalom, shalom!”
A senior cititzen, he dismisses any misperceptions of vulnerability by wearing a beanie hat that covers his head and ears. He almost gruffly barks out the prices of various commodities: $20 for the raw, unsalted Macademia nuts from Hawaii, 10$ for the dried, green kiwis, $8 for the almonds. $2 for the chilled bottles of water. Often, he is very polite to the clientele, especially the ladies.
Sometimes, I am deemed too hesitant about the assembly or disassembly procedure due to confusion/ or whatever was underneath my bed the previous night. The Boss exclaims either gently or more forcibly, “Malaka, it is over here!” I have heard rumors that Malaca in Greek means “Jerk off!” Once, I casually responded back, “Malakone!” I probably should not have done that because I think Malakone might be a really big one!
Most of the time, the boss is really cool. He offers me unlimited free samples of dried kiwis and unsalted pistachio meat. On special occasions, he makes me a ham sandwich on fresh french bread. “Eat, eat! Have as much as you want!” I never realized that ham sandwiches are so kosher!
Other times, the Boss plays the role of a bumbling, baritone opera singer who hap-hazardly seems to cry out while seeking after the woman of his dreams. He pretends to be unsuccessful at the find thus far, yet bewildered and amazed by life’s profundities while questing after her. He melodically bellows somewhat goofily and sarcastically, albeit gently, when he accentuates, “Okay....Okay...” In actuality, he has a wife and grandkids.
I enjoy interacting with the Boss and eating most of his business’ inventory (half kidding!). I think he appreciates my subtle, albeit often one-dimensional sense of humor because our shared, hearty laughter makes both of us connect, as well as appear less pensive. He is a man of few words and an active intellect. On the other hand, I am only a man of few words... (The sparse words I do manage to string together are pedantically written, not spoken often enough in real time. So what good are they to the bulk of the population who may not have enough time to read what I am trying to convey, in the moment?)
I forgot how much the Goji berries, one of our greatest commodities, go for (I think, $12), but they are well worth the incurrence of the pocket book’s wrath. I sold a pound to a burly, slightly under middle-aged customer the other day, who showed up with his cute lady friend.
I asked the gentleman if he would like some Goji berries. With the incredulous optimism that I exuded about the edible, I hinted that there was some unique quality within-- beyond the exotic taste between a tart cherry and a raisin. He naively asked what they were, although he may have had an inkling. (They are commonly known as instigators of male virility!)
When responding, I beat around the bush, so as not to cause any embarrassment. I replied, “For centuries, they have been Ancient Chinese Wonder Berries that are cherished as healing, herbal remedies. Goji berries are packed with powerful nutrients and anti-oxidants. They make the consumer more vigorous.” I think he got the idea.
I looked at his girlfriend, and she silently seemed to be in accordance with the impending purchase. Without more hesitation, he bought a bag.
Working Atop the Truck
I have to climb into the open air, truck’s bed to disperse and retrieve the goods, as well as assemble and disassemble the fruit stand’s signs and array of goods. Sometimes I must propel myself onto the truck bed, torso first, by leaning from the outside and pushing my way up and over. The jump down to the ground can also be a bit harrowing, although less so. So it is a good thing that the Boss lets me borrow a crate, that I term “The Elevator,” to allow me a smooth up and down transition.
When I’m “up,” tying the “ROASTED ALMOND” sign securely with a triple knotted rope in the face of the strong mountain currents reminds me of being aloft on a seaward skillet. Fortunately, there is a 2,500 foot mountain in between the top of the breezy truck and the unkempt, wind-swept sea. Talk about an exponentially windier factor than my own!
The American Flag
One of my favorite aspects about the fruit and nut gig is raising the American flag and hoisting it, unfurled, high atop the truck upon the mountain ridge’s walloping flurry. The flag represents so much of the promise, optimism, and freedom that America symbolizes, and was originally intended to represent. Jack Kerouac’s writing echoes this excitement about American experientialism from the exploratory, cross-country frontier of the 1950’s.
The symbolism of the American flag is still very relevant in many respects today, as well as attuned to what the United States used to stand for. Plus, the flag should represent the notion that the people, if we ever collectively unite, have the power to peacefully influence the country’s policies.
I am not going to delve much into the discussion behind the flag in this forum, but let me just say the following: Even though I cherish the flag of this great country and the freedoms of speech, religion, and pursuit of happiness that are guaranteed by our forefathers, I think Justice Anthony Kennedy (my law school professor) got the swing vote right in the Supreme Court flag burning decision that protects freedom of speech. After all, symbols change from time to time and should be subjects of debate, both with concurrence and dissent. It is the actual country, itself, that should remain morally and physically intact-- with plenty of room to express the at times, divulgent, gamut of reasonable opinions.
The Fruit and Nut Stand's Nearby Landmarks
There are several state and national wilderness areas nearby including a vast forest (called Muir Woods) , coastlines of Stinson Beach and Point Reyes Seashore. Mount Tamalpais-- the unique mountain that resembles a lady reclining on her back is the most proximate eye candy in Marin County. Driving tourists and bikers ride up the incline toward the mountain. They often stop at the stand for sustenance and hydration.
While one lady runner surged uphill, I struck up a conversation with her. It turns out that she runs 30 mile races and trains most days by running 20 miles a day!
Gosh, when I ran cross-country and track in high school, I think I may have maxed out at only around 13 miles. (My father and I were driving in Burlingame. I thought I was smelling the flowers outside but I finally realized the odor was really gas fumes emanating from the Volvo. I strode out of the car and ran all of the way home to San Francisco.)
The Fruit and Nut Stand is a Meeting Place
All I know is that the fruit and nut stand is a setting of communal convocation, kind of like Lord of the Rings' tavern in Bree, The Prancing Pony. What lies behind that last, civilized outpost is the unpredictable and sometimes dark, rumor-intensive, wild frontier. The commodity items sold at the fruit and nut stand gravitate amazing singles and couples, alike. Those who “spoke” may meet the “hub” while appreciating nature’s majestic splendor!