Clara has been aggressive about improving her Lemonade Stand this year.
She has incorporating cupcakes, and she invested in a rainbow collection of syrups that she uses with a snow-cone machine on a long yellow extension cord. Her newest thing is working on branding. She is currently into Red, White, and Blue patriotic themes to fit the Memorial Day and Fourth of July crowds. She even caught on one day when I used a punch card at an ice cream shop, and the next day she went out and bought a special star-shaped hole punch and created her own punch cards. When she’s not at the end of the driveway waving at passing cars, she is in the basement watching Youtube videos about how to improve her snow-cone making techniques or get the most out of her lemonade without paying more money.
“What are you watching?”
“Oh, I’m just seeing how this Bolivian man makes shave ice. They use condensed milk. Do we have any condensed milk?”
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her private business obsessions. It’s truly mythical what this little girl is accomplishing, and her mother and I are panting and out of breath just trying to keep up with her, and also reel her back in from time to time.
Yesterday we pulled into our neighborhood and it was such a beautiful day I encouraged her to set up her Snow-cone stand as quickly as she could to capture the weekend crowds working in their yards and taking walks with their family. I made her a colorful sign while she set up the table, but by the time she had everything in place, it was nearly dinner time and the streets were relatively bare.
I watched out the window as she patiently sat and waved and checked and double checked her icebox for over an hour without a single customer. She was getting discouraged. I was wanting to help.
So, I found an excuse to walk to the end of the driveway and while I was there I casually asked if she needed anything.
“Yes!” she said, clearly exasperated. “You can help me.”
Oh good. I thought to myself. I am present and can do my duty as her father to help my daughter’s ambitions succeed.
She pointed down the street at a rumbling sound. “Do you see that guy?”
I squinted down the street and shielded my eyes with my hand. “The guy in his garage down there?”
“No. The other guy. The one on the motorcycle.”
“Okay… Yes…” There was a man leaned back on a Harley riding in our direction, although from this distance it could have also been a gorilla covered in tattoos riding a Harley. This man was massive and grumpy looking. He wore a leather vest with a shiny bare chest underneath. “What’s wrong with that guy?”
She rolled her eyes as if it were obvious. “Dad. That man is smoking.” She made a motion with her hands and mouth that seemed to indicate that she had no idea how you smoked a cigarette.
“Okay, yeah, I see that now.” The man was getting closer.
“Ugh, Dad,” she shook her hands in the air. “He’s smoking and this will be like the third time he has driven past my stand!” When I didn’t say anything she added, “And I can smell it!” and when I still didn’t say anything, “And I think it’s driving away my actual customers.”
I scratched my bony elbow. “Okay… you want me to flag this man down and ask him to stop smoking?”
The rumble got louder as the bike passed the neighbor’s driveway. I saw him shift a lit cigarette from one side of his mouth to the other. His sunglasses sparkled as he turned his head to frown in our direction.
I lifted my hand and waved weakly. He drifted slowly past, turned the corner and rocketed away down the opposite street.
When he was gone I looked back at Clara. She was slumped in her chair again, regarding me with heavy disappointed eyebrows.
“Yeah, so. I don’t think I can legally enforce a no smoking area in front of your business.”
She shrugged and started writing notes in her business plan notebook. Illegible hieroglyphs that no doubt were her reminder to fire me at the next convenient time and hire a real bouncer that would be willing to protect her business from smokers and other such hoodlums.