Going broke at the market

Farmers markets are great places to get 4 percent of the items on your weekly grocery list while spending 80 percent of your weekly food budget. You DO get 100 percent of your fill of bearded men yelling at you about Jesus, so there’s that. The guy at my local farmers market reminds me of a 19th century Bostonian town crier, but with more making people around him uncomfortable and less talk about the dastardly British.

Going to a farmers market is like going to an amusement park, only they took out all the unnecessary delightful rides but left in the crowds and lines. My joy attending farmers markets comes almost exclusively from observing strange proprietors selling weird items to peculiar people.

Despite my conviction and diligent market list, there are so many interesting foods, gadgets, dodads and whoseywhatsits that eventually I just break down and give everybody money. Before long I’m Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning.

“Here, lad!” I shout at a boy growing radishes from a boot, tossing him a sack of random coins. “I’ll partake in your wares. Bag it up, and be quick about it! Then go find me a turkey, the biggest you can carry!”

“You, there,” I point to another proprietor, “what’s that? Homemade rhubarb peach cobbler marmalade and/or hand lotion? I’ll take it and look forward to putting it on my skin and/or tongue!”

“And you! What’s that? Mongolian albino rat cheese? Delectable! I’ll take a wedge. Make it two. Nay! A wedge for everyone! And make them healthy slices, healthy I say!”

“I won’t forget you, lass, I see you’ve made a bird house entirely out of spoons. Well done! That’s got to be useful! I shall have one! And a bag of your finest arugula!”

Keeping your money is especially difficult with a 3 year old in tow. It’s like a gambling addiction without the pesky allure of future wealth. If I was smart, I’d only go in with $20 so I wouldn’t be tempted. But, then, I suppose I’d try to barter with someone and end up with six loaves of bread and goat but no shirt or daughter. My wife would probably be upset, but she’d learn to love the goat just as well.

There are so many little, innocent things for sale that it’s impossible to tell your child “no” to: peanuts, flowers, jams, cheeses, eggrolls, smoothies, honey.

“Oh, so you don’t want her to have a flower?” a passerby remarks, judgingly, after I say that we don’t need a giant flower that’s as big as she is because it’s not going to go more than a block before getting broken and daddy works very hard for his money okay, well, he works for it and I’d prefer not to just toss $8 into the air.

“Well, okay,” I say, giving in. “Just one. Then that’s it.”

“And a balloon animal?” she asks, sweetly.

“Well, honey, how about”

“And peanuts, and a donut, and this thing?”

“Um. Iuhsure.”

Thankfully, I have a facially symmetrical daughter and not some kind of mutant hobbit, so whenever she smiles at people in her little flowered dresses, they tend to want to just give her things. This is stupid and does not work when I do the same, so I’ve come to realize this is a two-person team. I often wonder if I shouldn’t recruit nine additional children for some kind of weird Ocean’s 11 type of cuteness heist to make up for my lost money with free goods.

There are so many odd things for sale at the farmer’s market I’m thinking about setting up my own. I’m pretty sure there are guys out there (like me) that’ll buy whatever I have, as long as I have a tent.

Sign: “Kelly’s Magic Pancake Thwacker! Tired of your pancakes going un-spanked? Un-punished? Put them in their place! Spank delicious maple or buttermilk flavor into them with Kelly’s Magic Pancake Thwacker! Now with TWO settings: 1) Gentle Thwack (for softly spanking jams, jellies, syrups or other sauces INSIDE the pancake) or 2) Firm Spank (for tenderizing flavor into the pancake after cooking).

Sold separately: Therapeutic Butt Potato relax your gluteus maximus! While it may look like you’re rolling an ordinary potato on your butt, it’s much more than that becausescience! And therapy maybe?! Together at last! A match made in heaven. Smile, butt!

If someone stops by with a child, I can just say, “Oh, so you don’t want him/her to have a Magic Pancake Twacker? It comes with this piece of peanut brittle.”

Then I’ll watch the money pour in. I need it; I owe the salsa and wine lady $400.

Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at vandkel@hotmail.com or in an elevator near you. ButWHICH ONE?! Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny for delicious hummingbird cupcake recipes (does not contain actual hummingbirds).