“Specially For You” by Zoe Mozert 1950’s
True story: the day before Michael got out of the army, and came to live with me in Chicago, he expressed an interest in strawberries. Being the model girlfriend I am, I promised to get some for him.
I had just moved to the apartment we now share in a predominantly Mexican, and Spanish-speaking neighborhood. It was May 2nd, and strawberries were only just in season. I had no idea how difficult something simple like obtaining strawberries would prove to be. My sister Rachel came to visit me, and since it was a lovely day outside, we decided to explore the neighborhood and pick up some strawberries while we were at it.
We went to the corner ‘fruiteria’ first. They had cilantro, carrots, tomatoes, avocados, celery, and sundry other vegetables, but no strawberries. When I asked about them, they did not understand what I was saying. It became clear to me that I had unwittingly moved to a foreign land.
The second store we went to was supposedly a food and liquor store, but was really more of a liquor store that also sold food. They had no fruit at all, only some wilting produce that was unfit for human consumption. They understood what strawberries were, but did not know where we could find such exotic fruit.
The people at the third store we went to spoke slightly more English that the people at the first store, but slightly less than the people at the second store. They had no strawberries, but were kind enough to communicate to me, after I drew a picture of a strawberry that they were called fresas in Spanish.
Rachel and I went to at least five more stores. Armed with my new word I was at least able to communicate what I wanted, but no-one seemed to carry such rare delicacies. As we walked from store to store, we were stared at, and catcalled by a variety of creepy, and otherwise unsavory gentlemen. It was quite unpleasant.
Eventually, after almost two hours of searching, we happened upon Cermak Produce. Cermak Produce was not on Cermak, but then, the Cermak Produce in my old neighborhood was on North avenue, so I guess the accuracy of their name is not important to them. Within the produce department of Cermak Produce were rows and rows of boxes of delicious-looking strawberries. I bought two boxes. The sales clerk spoke perfect English. I vowed never to ask for anything in Spanish ever again, unless I was in a Spanish-speaking country.
The next day, when Michael and I were finally home, we ate the strawberries with sugar. They were delicious, and we lived (mostly) happily ever after.