Written exclusively for Fenway Pastoral by Red Sox first baseman/third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
Somebody once told me that my thick, scraggly beard makes me look like I could be one of those trail-mix-eating, Dharma-bum environmentalists. After a Good Samaritan kindly peeled my tightly wrapped fingers, one by one, off of this person’s neck, I realized maybe the guy wasn’t totally wrong.
Thanks to my stupid thumb (and my recent return to bachelorhood), I’ve got plenty of extra time this summer. I could have sat at home feeling sorry for myself these last few weeks, but watching the guys toiling away for a playoff spot from the sidelines is frustrating enough as it is. And fighting off the temptation to swing a bat (doctor’s orders) is a daily challenge.
Luckily, farmer’s markets offer both an earth-friendly alternative to the wastefulness of supermarkets and also a great way to kill off lazy summer days leading up to night games. On top of that, people always say that mass-produced hummus is filled with so many poisonous toxins and preservatives that you’d be better off letting Julio Lugo cook you a post-game dinner without his washing his hands first.
Keeping all that in mind, I figured it was probably time for me to see what all the hype was about. Earlier this week, the depression of both an empty cupboard and an empty bed became too much to bear any longer. I grabbed the keys to my sports utility vehicle and headed toward the sticks.
I was surprised by the massive amount of people already jockeying for positioning in the parking lot when I arrived shortly after 10:30 a.m. (I could have gotten there a lot earlier, but I got caught up watching The Today Show while ironing some newly washed dress shirts. In the summertime, I have to change shirts a few times each day—otherwise I wind up smelling like a freshly diced Bermuda onion.)
It was already a fairly hot and humid day even for late morning, so I left the engine of my sports utility vehicle running in its parking spot with the air conditioning on full blast. (Again, the heat…) I locked the car using the remote button on the keychain and it felt like everyone at the farmer’s market was staring at me like I had just swung at a pitch in the dirt on a 3-and-0 count.
Flustered by the grisly stares, I accidentally threw away my keys along with the Styrofoam coffee cup and crumpled paper wrappers that had encased my Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwich. I practically had to stick my entire arm into the parking lot dumpster to retrieve my keys out of the garbage, which smelled like a dead elephant had been stuffed with rotten vegetables and fed to Godzilla for his final meal before he evacuated all his bowels in the same trash container on the first day of one of those seven-day lemon cleanses. I recoiled and had to hold back several dry heaves.
For some reason, all this reminded me that I was all out of maple syrup, which I like to pour liberally on my challah French Toast. Now, everything would have been fine if they had capped the bottle using a normal twist-off top. But for some reason, the syrup people plugged the top with a flimsy cork-shaped contraption that wound up loosening and allowing most of the syrup to seep out and into my reusable tote bag, which I had originally gotten as part of a free gift package at some Museum of Science exhibit years ago while on a date with my ex-girlfriend.
The bag, which obviously held sentimental value to me, was ruined. Worse yet, when the syrup began dripping down my leg and onto my brand new Nike sneakers, the people at the stand gave me a look like I deserved all that was coming to me.
I could feel a burst of anger rising from deep within. I wanted to pick up a ball of fresh mozzarella and throw it as hard as I could at the large sign advertising farm-raised salmon. The soft, drippy cheese would have made a satisfyingly awesome mess. But, as always, I kept my emotions in check and moved on.
To replace my now ruined Museum of Science tote bag, I purchased a handmade sack that I could tell was at least 75% burlap even though the lady who made it claimed it was only 35%. I wasn’t in the mood to argue by this point, so I paid the lady $25 and moved on.
I had piled no more than 15 organic tomatoes into my new tote when the bottom stitching gave out. I couldn’t believe it. Dirtied and befouled from rolling on the grass, the tomatoes were inedible and I left them on the ground fertilizer to the barren, sun-scorched earth. For good measure, I ripped the remaining burlap stitching apart a la the Incredible Hulk, took a Sharpie out of my pocket, signed my autograph on each of the pieces and handed them to some frightened-looking children. (I think they may have gotten lost looking for the sugar-free candy booth.)
I was quite fed up by this point and it was clearly time for me to leave the farmer’s market. I decided to get some homemade gelato on my way back to my sport utility vehicle. Knowing my luck, I made sure to take a hefty supply of napkins (maybe 25 or 30, tops) with me in case the gelato began to melt down my whole-grain waffle cone. I ate the gelato as quickly as I could as the humidity seemed to instantly turn my cone into a dripping, liquid mess. Luckily, my napkins contained most of the mess and I only got a couple of drips on my white shirt. (Unfortunately, I have since learned that dried raspberry gelato is very difficult to wash out of synthetic cotton.)
I’d rate my overall experience at the farmer’s market as no higher than a C or C-plus. Oh well, I guess all-natural sweeteners, home-made berry jams, hand-churned dairy products and gluten-free pasta aren’t for everybody. I’ll try anything once, but on my way home from the farmer’s market, I bought enough Celeste frozen pizzas to last me until the end of the Mayan calendar. I have a feeling the zesty four cheeses of Mama Celeste will do just fine in providing me all the nutrients I need to come back strong and healthy in 2011.