Throwback…Friday: The Lettuce

I spent a few minutes last night looking through old folders of writing on my computer and unexpectedly arrived at a folder named “Road Trip.”

Road Trip?! Really?! I had no recollection such an entity existed! I found so many good things inside!

The good things included a two-page list of stories I apparently wanted to make sure I remembered. Before looking at the list, I probably would have been able to recall about 10% of the events tucked away in that document. So you can imagine the number of very enthusiastic “oh my word!” exclamations uttered on the porch last night as I leapt back into memory lane.

Mission accomplished, Road Trip List. Nicely done.

Amongst the remaining contents of the folder were a few blog posts I had written but needed to save to post until I had internet access. The following was one of them.

Those of you who were around during the road trip era might remember the story of The Lettuce, but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s fairly entertaining. And! From the ending it looks like I posted this on a Friday as well. So nearly 4 years later, it’s still my weekend gift to you.*

Enjoy. And be glad that you undoubtedly have more coordination and common sense than the author.

After working until sun down one night this week, Marie and I went our separate ways to clean up a bit before reuniting for dinner. On her way to the main house she mentioned, “Oh, if you want a salad for dinner, go out back and grab a head of lettuce.”

I immediately started to think that salad sounded like a bad idea. This is because the field where the lettuce is located is in the back of the property, about a quarter mile back, and since the sun had gone down, I had very little optimism that I would be able to travel to and fro unharmed. Anyone who has had the misfortune of walking near me for any length of time can confirm that I am an accident waiting to happen. I routinely trip over air. I occasionally fall over while standing still. If you add darkness, unfamiliarity, and three inches of rain resulting in 3 million inches of slick Texas mud…the results are sure to be entertaining for some and painful for others, namely me. So I said,

“That sounds great…but I’m not exactly confident in my ability to retrieve the lettuce.”

To which she said, “Oh, you’ll be fine! Just grab a flashlight and your cell phone.”

Clearly she does not know the catastrophe she’s dealing with.

So, armed with flashlight and cell phone, I went off into the night, praying along the way that I would surprise myself with a newfound propensity for agility. (You can stop laughing now.) I made it through the first fence, the horse pasture, the second fence, the other horse pasture, and the stream before I noticed that I was being followed.

Luckily, it wasn’t Creepy Joe.

It was just a horse – apparently an intuitive one, since he knew right where to find his entertainment for the evening.

The mud at this point was fairly intense and I nearly faceplanted about 87 times while Mr. Ed brought up the rear and laughed at my expense. Finally, I made it to the field, unhooked the hot fence, and started looking for the lettuce.

Because there is no other way for this story to go, my flashlight decided this was a good time to be low on power. It was also at this time that the dogs from across the street sensed my uncoordinated presence and started barking at me, which did wonders for my nervous system and didn’t cause me to jump up and slip in the mud at all.

The good thing was that I knew where the lettuce was. Or, as it turns out, I knew where multiple plants that look like lettuce were. Or were they just the tops of another leafy vegetable? And shouldn’t I be looking for something with a head, as in a head of lettuce? It was this trail of thoughts that led me to wander up and down about ten rows of produce, not having the slightest idea what I was actually looking for. I didn’t want to call Marie because I’m already steadily holding first place in the Most Incompetent Farm Hand race and didn’t want to add more points to the tally with “Doesn’t Know What Lettuce Is.” Also, it’s not like I need anything to add to the list of reasons why I should not be allowed within 10 miles of a farm. So I pressed on, chiding myself with the facts of the matter: You are a 24-year-old college graduate. Your favorite store is the grocery store. If you can drive around the country by yourself, you can find a head of lettuce with a dim flashlight by yourself. Not to mention, Jamie Oliver would be so ashamed of you if you fail.

Ten minutes, multiple internal lectures, and countless slip-and-slide moments later, I was still standing in a dark field with a dying flashlight and a horse mocking me from the other side of the fence, lettuce-less.

So I caved.

“Marie?”

“Yep.”

“I can’t find the lettuce…”

“You can’t find the lettuce?!’

“Yeah…”

“Ok…where are you?”

I proceeded to describe where I was and she proceeded to tell me what I was looking for, and it turns out my initial instinct had been right. But there are so many different varieties of green plants hanging out back there I could easily envision me waltzing back into the house with mustard greens or cabbage or some type of Spanish kale and parading it around as lettuce.

Having a freshly picked head of lettuce in my hand made me even more attractive to Mr. Ed and his friends, who closely accompanied me on the walk home. Between having almost no light in mudslide conditions and being surrounded by the cast of the Budweiser commercials, I’m shocked to say I made the entire journey vertically. It may have taken me nearly half an hour, but I made it!

So there you have it. I hope the mental picture of me wandering among the lettuce rows in the dark of night lends itself to a Friday smile or two. Consider it my weekend gift to you.

*If you are interested in delaying the start of your work day even further, you may also enjoy reading this post about the year that followed the road trip. It serves as a good reminder that big adventures make life meaningful, but not necessarily easier to navigate. If you are less interested in thinking about life and more interested in laughing again, read this post about fire alarms instead.

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