Teasing me was a low-risk, high-reward time investment for the Berry Bigs. All I could think to do was shout, “jerks!” in response to whatever fresh insult they’d hurled at me on their way to the Farmer’s Market. Goes without saying that I wasn’t big or quick. I was small and slow. Their nickname for me was Half-Bite Barry. After a while, I got to believing they were right. I was too small to ever make it off the farm.
I had been in the bin for what seemed like forever. The same thing happened over and over at packing time. The farmer’s wife would come by and graze her hand over the pile of us. Then, she’d pick out the plumpest, reddest, ripest berries, and pack them up into punnets, leaving the rest of us behind. I started to worry when round four of picking gathered up every single strawberry but me. I was all alone. Absolute confirmation for me that I was a loser. With an expiration date to boot.
The Berry Bigs were the envy of the farm. Shiny, red hulks grown from the seeds of giants. Everyone from that stock got big, or bigger than big, or even huge.
Me? I never grew bigger than a marble. Organic seeds, you see. Getting dropped in this bin was a complete accident. The only good thing about it was that from here, I could see the television. The farmer had it blaring in the background day and night. It was my escape.
One evening, during a marathon of Frasier reruns, a single commercial ran that opened my eyes to a world of possibility. It offered a “once daily tablet for natural enhancement.” The man in the commercial had a big smile on his face and the woman, well, she looked like she wanted to eat him up.
I was sold. The farmer’s wife would certainly notice me if I got my hands on one of those. It looked like the farmer was interested too, because he grabbed a pencil faster than green grass through a goose and scribbled down the phone number on the screen.
Sign me up too, I thought.
It wasn’t long before the package came. The farmer ripped it open and out came a rattling bottle of pills. A big smile stretched across his face as he popped one of those suckers into his mouth. He ran his fingers through his hair, smoothed out his eyebrows and darted off. Next thing I knew, the farmer and his wife rolled into view with their mouths all over one another, taking a turn among the cabbages.
I sighed. I needed a mouth on me too before it was too late.
Getting that pill was going to be a challenge. I had to make it all the way across the storage barn to the farmer’s desk. It was gonna be a slow roll, but it was do or die. That little white bottle was practically glowing with the prospect of virility.
I could see it all now. Me, on top of the strawberry pile at Pete’s Finest Produce. I pulled my cap a bit farther down my forehead, resolved to get to that bottle come hell or high water.
Well wouldn’t you know not two minutes had gone by and a bird swooped down and landed in the bin. He ducked his beak into the corner, snatched me by the stem, and took me for a quick and terrifying ride across the barn. As luck would have it, he landed right smack on the farmer’s desk.
An oscillating fan whirred by. The bird squawked and took off like a banshee, dropping me on the desk with a tiny plop. It knocked over the bottle, spilling the pills all over the desk. The farmer’s wife hurried over to see what was causing all the commotion. Fortune does favor the bold.
“Well look at how cute you are, you ripe, sweet, little thing!” the farmer’s wife said, plucking me off the desk and holding me up at eye level between her forefinger and thumb.
“Baby, you know how much I love these itty bitty strawberries,” she said with a purr, looking at me with a kind of desire I had never seen before.
Well, I’ll be dipped in chocolate sauce. I hadn’t even gotten to the pills yet.
Could it be that she just hadn’t noticed me until now? I had spent all these days in the bin waiting and hoping, ragging on myself because of what those other guys said, when all the while I was just fine being me.
I can’t daggone believe it. My moment has finally arri…