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GETTING PERSONAL

A rendezvous with all the sizzle of squash

The farmers market is the last place she wants to go. But can she turn down his invitation?

November 10, 2005|Katie Love | Special to The Times

NOTHING sucks the life out of a crush faster than the word "no."

So imagine my distress when my New Favorite Guy calls me one morning and says, "Hey, I'm right by your house -- come with me to the farmers market."

Oh, this is very alarming. It's way too early in the game for him to know about my issue with farmers markets or any other early morning Zen activities. I quickly run through the list of excuses in my head, stopping at "emergency pedicure."

But it's no use; anything I say at this point will sound like a Jerry Lewis monologue. It's the curse of the crush: I can't tell a lie. I can't exaggerate. I can't improvise. I am currently bound to horrifying degrees of honesty.

Soon he is in my driveway looking disheveled and eager, an irresistible combo. OK, I'll try. His spontaneity alone deserves my respect.

It's just that I really despise farmers markets. I know! Who could hate the small-town charm of a farmers market? Who can resist the smell of kettle corn and flowers wafting through the air on a breezy L.A. morning? What kind of person would avoid the little three-piece band playing on an unstable stage covered in hay? Who would pick waxy grocery store fruit over the ever popular "organic"?

That would be me, and New Guy doesn't need to know. Not yet. There's no need to put a damper on a lovely beginning by dousing it with brutal honesty.

So I put on a smile and venture forth. The Farmers Market Zombies are out in full force, meandering at a pace that says, "Hey, I've got all day to find the perfect nectarine. Nope, no to-do lists here. No rush, no thoughts, no plans. "Oops! Did I bang into you with my enormous bag of fruit kill?" I feel a silent scream coming on.

There is a lot of sniffing and weighing and one man even puts his ear to a cantaloupe as if it will share in conversation. Transfixed by the aura of the common apple, a woman who is dressed in standard farmers market attire (sundress, straw hat, sandals) holds her tart sacrifice up to the light as if a miracle will occur.

Parents, seemingly calm and level-headed, push strollers around like mini-bulldozers, loading up their strollers with so much zucchini the babies are forced to hitch a ride back to the car. The Hangover People wait in line for tamales, sunglasses on, head down, covered in regret.

A fantastic man, model handsome, model cocky, holds a bag of kettle corn hostage and consumes it with such passion, it seems a shame someone isn't catching this on film.

"Stop!" I yell. "I hate farmers markets! There's a nice grocery store right across the street. Farmers sell to them too and it's clean! I like my salad prewashed in plastic bags and my fruit so shined and buffed, I can see my reflection. Organic just means they didn't wash it first."

Blasphemy! A pony stares at me with one eye as it rounds the corner. I can hear tamales steaming and someone sighing. A baby rests its head on a cob of corn.

I have stopped time. New Guy looks down at me. He's got a little bag of red potatoes that he seems especially fond of.

"Why didn't you say anything?" he asks.

I look down, my cheeks reddening. "Because I like you more than I don't like farmers markets, OK? So we can stay if you want to."

He smiles. "No, that's OK. I like my salad prewashed too. But then I wash it again."

Well that's just neurotic. Honest, but neurotic.

*

Katie Love can be reached at weekend@latimes.com.

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