This I Believe

Christine - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on April 27, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

Don’t Go There!

It’s one of my favorite moments. Standing in line on Saturday mornings at the downtown market, waiting to pay the farmer for the coming week’s produce, feeling smug and communal for going out of my way to buy organic and shop locally, no small feat in Phoenix, at least until recently.

There are two farmers who regularly man the stand and they appear to me to be the real thing. Faded overalls stretched taut around the gut and chicken shit work boots, gashed fingers with manure manicures, red wrinkled faces and greasy cap hair, perma-squint eyes. They are a touch cranky too, which I imagine is related to rising when civilized people are just entering REM sleep, to milk cows or egg chickens or slop pigs or some other farmy chore that I would detest the same way I detest morning aerobics. I love these guys. For their sacrifice and purity. And their tomatoes. Or at least I did.

Last weekend, as I waited dreamily in line, I was yanked abruptly from my Old MacDonald-inspired farm fantasy by a conversation between the oldest farmer and a young 4H-looking teenage girl who was bagging the produce of the woman ahead of me. 4H was cute in a well-fed, freckle-face, home-ec-fashion, could-easily-brand-a-cow way and I heard her sass the farmer about some boy, maybe his grandson? And then it happened. Farmer John responded with what could not be mistaken for anything but a guffaw and retorted, “Don’t go there!” What. What? What the “quack quack here” did you just say?! I felt like a small child overhearing a mall Santa say the F-word.

This I Believe. Old men must never tell someone to “Don’t go there!,” “Oh no you di’int!,” “Text me!,” or anything else that passes for conversation on trashy talk shows, MTV, or during a night out involving Paris, Britney or Lindsay. This is particularly true of old men who grow and sell organic food and were likely in the Korean War and maybe necked with their now wives at a drive-in movie while in high school. I want a certain stoicism and old world charm in my old men and I don’t think I’m alone. This I believe.

For now, I still have the other farmer and the possibility that I misheard the oldest farmer (I didn’t) or that he was temporarily seized by Tourette’s (he wasn’t). But mostly, I’ve been on guard, fearful that at some dinner at the Country Club with a certain senior federal judge for whom my husband clerked some years ago, I will overhear a Burberry-clad old man just off the green tell somebody in his party to “Don’t be hatin’.” Don’t go there old men! Please!