As the weather has warmed up over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed us going to more Farmer’s Markets than usual. Unless I was hit in the head with a hammer while sleeping, the only other explanation for this is that me and every other young, idiot parent has been hyponotized and instructed to gather in the same parking lot every Saturday and Sunday.
We mill around the vendors in a circle like cattle, watching people elbow and shove each other to get to the free samples of homemade pesto. It’s quite an eclectic mix of farmers, yuppies, hipsters and granolas, uniting to show off their recycled grocery bags, eat pomegranates and whisper about the price of truffles. Then there’s me, the sweaty, exhausted, slightly out of shape dad running back and forth to the car, pumping quarters into a fledgling parking meter to avoid a $75.00 ticket.
On our last trip, I let Ava hop out of her stroller and cruise free-style. She’s still got some sea-legs and hobbles around like an Irishman blasted on Jameson, but for the most part, manages not to fall down. She doesn’t necessarily walk ‘as the crow flies’ from point A to point B. She’s got an erratic, zig-zag motion with intimidating speed. I meander after her, continuously mumbling ‘excuse me’ and ‘sorry about that’ as I pinball off of other parents, trying to track down her down. Everyone seems to be doing the same thing. On this particular day, Ava had a specific destination in mind, the front-side of the market were they hide the PONY RIDES.
My wife is a sucker for a photo-op and I knew immediately I wasn’t getting out of this. Ava was pointing at the ponies with her finger, saying ‘Oooh, wow!’ and it became impossible to turn away and let her down. Jen offered to walk alongside of her since she was still so little, leaving me to battle it out on the sidelines in ‘small talk’ with a bunch of hipster dads wearing skinny jeans and vests.
I was a bit apprehensive at first. What if this thing reared back like Tonto and took off with my kid down Main Street? Who has the liability insurance around here? Does my homeowners cover this? I guess since everyone else was jumping off the bridge, we would too. Ava was thrilled watching the horse in front of her push out a steamer onto the wood chips, and she stared at it every time she went around. Evidently, poop is fascinating.
The pony handlers weren’t charging anyone for the rides and instead, were just asking for donations. Let me tell you something. Asking for donations is the biggest scam in the book. Just give me a price! Don’t make me guess. Praying on my guilt and potentially making me look like a cheap asshole in front of everyone probably gets them more than they would charge. I threw her a finner ($5), which bought me an extra minute at the end for this photo.
As I looked at her smiling, having a great time, I wondered how I might have royally screwed myself. The only likely outcome from this experience was for her to eventually ask dad for a pony for Christmas or her birthday. I wasn’t going to be able to put this together. I don’t have ‘pony money’ lying around, plus I’m pretty sure the homeowner’s association would have some beef. Cross your fingers and pray for me that she never remembers this moment. Giddy-up!