Extremely Expensive Grapes
Fruit Stands in Prime Locations, The World
The other day, my girlfriend and I went to a popular beach. We were hungry and tired and thirsty from all the leisure we were doing, all the sun that was shining, all the glimmers from the ocean, all the glimmers we returned to the ocean so solicitously. I glimmered at the ocean all day long, felt my skin turn brown, got hot, ate sandwiches, drank water, got my towel wet, got my towel dry, got my shorts wet, got my shorts dry, splashed in the surf, lolled on the sand, applied sunscreen, re-applied sunscreen, gazed at my companion, and generally spent the day as best I knew how. And I looked good doin’ it too. Even my ankles got tan.
“Dang, baby,” I said. “Take a look at my ankles.”
“Just don’t start wearin’ Tevas,” she said.
I briefly wondered whether or not I ought to expound on the virtues of the sandal best equipped to handle my most rugged leisure ambitions—wading in a rocky stream, standing in a boat with an inch of water in the bottom. But, I decided against it. After all, we had bigger fish to fry.
“Baby,” I said. “I saw some pretty big grapes up there at that fruit stand. I bet they’re really expensive, too. Like, a total rip-off. Want to get some?”
“I think we owe it to ourselves after our incredible showing of leisure skills to eat some really expensive grapes,” she said.
“We make a really good team,” I said.
“Just don’t start wearin’ Tevas,” she said.
We went up to the fruit stand. Our towels were draped over our shoulders. I wondered if the fruit stand guy would recognize my girlfriend given that she’s the world’s most beautiful woman. I suggested she put on her sunglasses so that we might avoid the paparazzi that was taking pictures all around us.
“Everyone’s taking pictures,” I said.
“That’s because there’s like a really exotic animal over there, and it’s standing in front of a really nice beach,” she said.
“Oh,” I said. I looked over. At first I didn’t know what animal it was but then I realized it was a gazelle. I waved to it. The gazelle gave me the thumbs up. I raised my hands. I tried to sign the word “#stoked” but the gazelle just shook his head.
“Let’s see about those grapes.”
We went up to the guy. We said we’d like a bag of grapes. The guy looked at us curiously. He was like, “Oui, les raisins. How many? Like this?” He held up about six of them. My girlfriend and I were like, “What the hell? Six grapes does not a treat make.” The guy held up twelve grapes. He raised his eyebrows, as if the idea of buying twelve grapes were super completely loco. My girlfriend and I looked at each other. We were like, “Guy, keep ‘em comin’. We’ve basically already eaten twelve grapes and we haven’t even opened our mouths yet.”
“More???????” the guy said, in his hardcore French accent.
We nodded. We knew they would be a total rip-off, but hey—twelve grapes seems sort of like ordering a two-ounce beer.
“No,” the guy said. “C’est imposible!”
My girlfriend and I looked at each other.
“We’d like forty to fifty grapes,” we said.
“Fifty grapes??? Merde! Are you out of your minds??? Save that argent for college because you need some education!”
“Guy,” we said. “There’s a gazelle over there. Far more loco things in the world have happened than this. Now let’s put a bunch of grapes in a bag and rinse ‘em off. It’s hot in this parking lot and those grapes look really good.”
The guy obliged us, though he shook his head the entire time, muttering to himself in French. We thought he was a bit of an ornery—albeit charmingly ornery—fruit stand man, but then, when he put the grapes on the scale, we understood the situation.
“Twelve bucks,” he said.
My girlfriend and I started crying, stamping our feet on the ground, throwing our towels and sunglasses everywhere, yelling at passersby for taking pictures with their iPads, yelling at some of the more spindly beachgoers for having knobby knees, yelling at some of the more fairly complected beachgoers for having sunburns, and basically causing a huge scene. We knew the grapes would be expensive, but we didn’t know they’d be extremely expensive.
The fruit stand man tried to console us. He said we didn’t have to buy them. We could just buy six. Or twelve. Or he could just cut one in half and we could split it. “Gratis. A sample,” he said. Drying our tears, catching our breath and returning the middle finger to all of the people we’d just yelled at, we considered this option, but only for a second.
“Naw, we’ll just take the whole bag. It’s a ten-minute drive back from here. We’re going to need a lot.”
And wow, were those grapes good. Like, really, really good. On a hot day, on the way home from the beach with a hot mama beside you, a bag of grapes really hits the spot, even for an extra five dollars.
Tom Dibblee is Trop’s editor. His fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and his nonfiction has appeared in Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Point. He lives in Los Angeles.