My thirteen-year old friend Jernae wanted to open a lemonade stand on my front porch.
“I need lemons,” she announced, rummaging through the drawers of our refrigerator.
“I only have one,” I replied. “That’s not enough to make lemonade with.”
“It’ll work,” she said. “How about sugar, you got any?”
“Yes,” I answered. “I’ve got sugar, but one lemon will not cut it.”
“You’ll see,” she answered. “I just need somethin’ that looks like lemonade.”
She searched through the cupboards. A few moments later she exclaimed, “Here it is!” She held up a jug of yellow Gatorade. “This will work just fine.”
“Jernae,” I said. “You can’t sell Gatorade and claim it’s lemonade.”
“It’s called false advertising. You can’t pass one product off as another.”
She paused for only a second. “I’m gonna call it ‘Almost Real Lemonade,’” she said. “Cuz it’s almost real.”
“But you can’t.”
“Look,” she said, giving me a serious glance. “I’m gonna add sugar. Then I’m gonna slice the lemon real thin and add it to the pitcher of lemonade. Then I’m gonna throw in ice cubes. It’ll be cold and refreshing. My customers will love it.”
She poured the Gatorade into a glass pitcher on the kitchen countertop. She added heaping spoonfuls of white sugar and stirred it with a wooden spoon until the sugar disappeared within the yellow liquid. Then she sliced the lemon into four large portions and threw it into the pitcher.
“You could at least remove the seeds,” I said.
“That’s what helps make it REAL,” she replied, looking at the chunks of lemon swirling in the sweetened Gatorade.
“Ice cubes,” she exclaimed. “I need a lot of them. And cups. Do you got any cups?”
“I only have small Dixie cups, the kind that people use to take their medications. They aren’t big enough to serve Gatorade in.”
“‘Almost Real Lemonade,’” she corrected. “That will work perfect. Small cups means I’ll make more money.”
She got the Dixie cups out of the bathroom medicine closet and took them outside, along with a pile of napkins. She returned for the pitcher of “Almost Real Lemonade.”
“I need signs,” she shouted. “I can’t sell lemonade without signs. I need paper, tape and crayons.”
She ran upstairs to my bedroom and returned with four sheets of computer paper taped together to form one big square. With a marker she wrote quickly: All Most Real Lemon Aid 10 cent for 1, 2 for 25 cent.
“Jernae,” I said. “You can’t sell one cup for ten cents and two for twenty-five cents!”
“Why not?” she asked.
“Because it’s not a deal. It costs more for two cups then for one.”
“Of course,” she said. “Two cups is always gonna cost more than one.” She went outside to tape her sign on the porch railing. But she returned moments later.
“I need incentives,” she announced. “I need coupons that say two for one, buy one get one free, or somethin’ like that. Or I need to give away somethin’ so people will buy the ‘Almost Lemonade.’ Can you help me?”
“No,” I answered, “I’m not going to be a part of this. Everything you are doing reeks of false advertising. You are ripping off your public.”
“No I’m not,” she answered.
“Yes, you are,” I said.
“Whatever,” she replied, and returned to the porch.
Thirty minutes later she came back inside.
“How’s business?” I asked.
“Not good,” she said. “I only made 25 cents so far and there aren’t any other customers around. I need more signs to put up on 53rd and 54th streets. Nobody knows I’m open for business. Will you help me, please?”
“No,” I said. “You can’t spell and you can’t add and you are defrauding the public. I cannot be a part of this scheme, kiddo.”
“Tweener,” she said.
“I’m not a kid. I’m a tweener. You know, like almost a teenager.
“You mean like ‘Almost Real Lemonade?’”
“Exactly,” she answered.