Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Cracker Man is Nuts!

He was standing there, rain dripping from the brim of his Sou'Wester hat, splashing off onto his yellow slicker, his white beard lending another touch to the "Old Man of Maine" image.

-Hello, he greeted me, from under the tarp over his wares.

-Oh, you are the Twelve Dollar Crackers Man! I exclaimed, ha, ha, ha! 

-Why, yes.  You are laughing....

-No, no...it's a family joke.   Suddenly, I felt myself sinking deep into a bottomless pit. I didn't want to go there.  No!  You kinda' had to be there.  It was a funny, family thing.  I was digging in deeper!

-You don't like my crackers??????

-Well, they are rather expensive, don't you think?  I mean, $12?????

-But they are hand made.  People buy them.  Repeat customers even.  Why don't you like them?  I need an honest answer here!!

-Really.  It's not a biggy.  We were a family, happily having fun and relishing our togetherness, and....well it got to be a joke, sort of...it just extrapolated into funny fun.

-But you don't like them.  What is it?  What don't you like?  Don't you think they're good?

-Well, they are crackers.  And, they are REALLY expensive.  I really don't think crackers should cost $12 each.  Don't  you think that's rather alot for one cracker?

-The small ones are $8.00.  The medium sized ones are $10.00.  Only the large ones are $12.00.

I am not making this up, Folks, this really happened, word-for-word.

That exchange transpired during our foray into the very wet, pouring rain, Tuesday Farmers' Market in Brooksville last week.  This week, the sun was shining.  My daughter with her young family and her mother-in-law, visiting from Alberta, came along to soak up the ambiance and flavour of Down East Maine.  The Cracker Man recognized me.  He asked if my opinion of the crackers had changed over the past seven days.  Had I thought about his artisan crackers? Had I revised my opinion?

-I've spoken with other people who truly admire your crackers, that they are hand made and very healthy.  Yes, people do like them, I exclaimed.  I was trying to be supportive, positive, encouraging.

-But you still don't like them.  

-It's not that I don't like them.  They're probably great.  I just think they are really expensive.

Today, without his rain gear on, I noticed his waddle, the loose flap under his chin, wobbling back and forth as he earnestly held my gaze and refused to back down.  It was a challenge to keep my eyes looking into his face and not on his waddle.

He gave me a cracker.  A small one.

-Try this.  You may like it.  How long will you be around, he asked?

-All summer, until mid-September.

-Well come see me every week.  We'll continue our...

-Our ConFlab!

Just then, my friend Linda, Daughter's mother-in-law, came up.  Linda, let me introduce you to this man selling handmade crackers.

Linda was all over it.  I've been wanting to make my own crackers forever!  

I stepped back as they went at it.  Recipes, rolling techniques, cooking methods, the intricacies and delicacies of crackers became a thing in-and-of-itself.  Fascinating.  And then...she said....

-I'll take one.

She opened her purse and pulled out three one dollar bills.  I waited.  I watched.  She glanced over at the price board.  He became busy with his bags and spoons and seeds.  

With a flourish, he handed her a SMALL cracker with one hand, and held out his other hand for ...

That will be Eight Dollars, please.

Linda was a saint.  She regrouped.  She paid the asking price.  She staggered away.

In the parking lot, as our troop amassed to move on, she turned to me with eyes the size of dinner plates, here chin slightly quivering.

Is that man mentally challenged?  Twelve dollars for a cracker????  When I saw his price list, I thought it was $8.00 for a dozen small ones.  Who in the world pays $12.00 for one cracker????????

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