There is something irresistible about a lemonade stand.
Sunburned kids jumping up and down, waving floppy pieces of poster board at passing cars. The card table stacked high with plastic cups. A mason jar “bank.” Bossy 8-year olds ordering their younger minions around.
Unlike their adult counterparts at The Gap or Stop & Shop, workers at a lemonade stand greet customers with wild enthusiasm. It’s all hands on deck when someone approaches, wallet in hand. “Lemonade! Do you want to buy a glass of lemonade?!” they shout, as if they don’t expect you to actually stop.
There’s a mad scramble to fill the order; several pairs of hands fumble for a glass and grab the pitcher of pale yellow liquid. Ice is added after the fact, which accounts for the sticky table. Most of the time, they completely forget to collect payment, but a question of “Who’s in charge of the money?” remedies that omission, and reveals the pecking order of this particular endeavor.
They are happy to describe, often in great detail, their deliberations about the merits of using Country Time Pink Lemonade mix or of squeezing the lemons and making it from scratch. They’ll gladly share the challenges of running this business, including keeping the lemonade cold and the wasps out of the pitcher. (It’s true that their version of “cold” is what I call “tepid,” but no matter, it still tastes delicious on a hot day.)
It’s thrilling for a little kid to be in charge, even if Mom and Dad were responsible for the venture capital and supply-chain logistics. Nothing beats having an idea, persuading your siblings or friends to join you in putting it into action, and getting strangers (or at least people you aren’t related to) to give you money!
Anticipating all the wonderful things you can buy with your new-found riches (for yourself or someone else) offers a tantalizing taste of the powers reserved exclusively for adults.
I pull over for all lemonade stands — I admire those whose stands raise money for charity, but hard work in pursuit of personal gain seems worthy of my support, too.
So, the next time you see a lemonade stand, stop the car or hop off your bike, and help make Providence feel like a small town. Albeit one with a lot of hookah parlors.