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Free Lemon with $15.00 Purchase
by Don Drewniak

As a teenager beginning in the mid-1950s and an adult through the early 1980s, Lenny, one of my two best friends, had a trigger temper. This resulted in his having engaged in innumerable arguments and fights.

We push the clock forward from those days to the mid-1980s when Lenny and I were in our early 40s. My wife and I rented a four-bedroom house somewhere on Cape Cod for two weeks (the neuron that held the name of the town is one of the many that have escaped from my brain over the years).

Invited to spend three days with us were Lenny and his wife, Claudette, and another couple who were long-time friends, Tom and Harriet.

Both couples (they had not previously met) arrived mid-afternoon on the first Friday of the vacation. Once they were settled, we gathered on a shaded rear deck and broke open beer and wine.

Lenny settled into a chaise lounge, lit a cigar and began sipping red wine. He said very little during the early stages of the conversation.

It was, perhaps, twenty to thirty minutes into our conversations when I mentioned something (another neuron gone) that had “pissed me off.”

“You know, Don,” interjected Lenny, “you need to calm down. Be more like me. I’ve learned to roll with the punches.”


As dinner time approached, the conversation turned to what to eat.

“Fish,” said Lenny, “my treat.”

We all agreed. Lenny, Harriet and I headed to a local seafood market. The others remained behind to get a grille fired up and take care of plates, glasses, napkins and all the rest needed for the meal.

Lenny took total charge in the market and racked up a $72.00 bill (approximately $200 today).

A woman most likely in her early 20s processed the order, packed everything into three bags and added one lemon after Lenny paid the bill.

“Three more lemons,” said Lenny.

“That will be forty-five cents.”

“No,” said Lenny who was showing signs of being irritated, “Look at the sign behind you. It says, 'Free lemon with $15.00 purchase.' I get three more lemons because I spent $72.00.”

“No,” came the reply, “it’s one lemon per purchase.”

“Then split the order into four separate ones.”

“No, I can’t do that.”

“Why not?” responded Lenny whose face had turned fire-engine red.

I whispered to Harriet to take the bags to the car.

“Because those are the rules.”

Meanwhile, there was a backlog of customers. Some were enjoying the show, others were losing patience.

“Lenny, forget it, we don’t need the the damn lemons,” I said in a low voice.

He then yelled, “Get me the manager.”

The young woman complied and turned to the waiting customers as the manager (a guy in his fifties, just under six feet and well over two-hundred pounds) walked over to the back of the counter and growled at Lenny, “What’s your problem?”

“I paid $72.00. The sign says, ‘Free lemon with $15.00 purchase.’ That means I get four lemons.”

I don’t give a @%$#&^$% if you spent five hundred. It’s one lemon. You pay for more. Now get the hell outta my store.”

“I’ll never buy anything again here.”

“You think I give a shit? I got more customers than I need. Now get the hell outta here before I call the cops.”

Lenny took two steps toward the counter. His fists were clenched. I feared that he was going to jump over the counter. I put him in a bear hug and backed him out of the store as he hurled a volley of expletives at the manager.

So much for the new Lenny.