Strawberries

He was selling more than strawberries. I’ve followed the poster-sized drawing of a vivid, ripe, and slightly cartoonish strawberry for several miles now. It’s not that I’m upset about the presence of orange and apples, I’m just … surprised. I wonder if drawings of an apple wouldn’t lure people in. I mean, the way a strawberry must?

There’s dirt on my boots I notice as I walk towards the gentle-eyed Hispanic man wearing a baseball cap. He’s leaning against his truck and spitting — I’m guessing tobacco — out onto the rocks near him.

“Excuse me, sir. I’m shooting a project for school and I’m wondering if it would be OK if my friend films me buying strawberries?” I ask, fibbing. I figure if I say “school project” it won’t come off as threatening.

Silence.

“We won’t film you or the name of your stand…?” I smile, trying not to sound like I’m begging. I feel my eyebrows raise. Say yes, please say yes.

The man spits again. I try to pretend I didn’t just see it splat near my leg.

“No,” he says.

And that’s that. I try to bargain with him, but he wants nothing to do with me or the camera man wearing striped jogging pants standing behind me holding a Cannon 5D.

I continue down the winding road trying to focus on not driving off the cliff that my camera man is filming through my driver’s side window as my hands steady on the wheel. I press the seat back as far as it’ll go. Don’t die, don’t die, don’t die. Wow, this view is breathtaking, oops — eyes on the road.

I’m filming a short film today in Malibu. We’re somewhere in between a fish taco stand and a pier. Countless surfers in wet suits jog past me, short board under arm, and I watch a few dash into the ocean to catch a wave. The camera man is pressing buttons and aiming the camera towards the sun, and I take a moment to get into character but find my mind wandering.

Since quitting the restaurant my life has changed. I now have time to make short films that I can submit to festivals. I now have time to start a headshot business. I now have time to write my new feature film. I feel my throat thicken with emotion.

As the sun starts to set we pack up and head back down the winding road towards the valley. I start to see the strawberry signs.

“Hi again! Don’t worry. We’re not going to film … how much for a bag?” I smile.

I even have time to stop for strawberries.

Alice can be reached at AliceActress@yahoo.com.

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