Department of English

Fall 2008 Edition

Market Night

Geneil Perkins
Expressive 1010 2nd Place
Professor: Ruth Scovill

Time – Every Thursday, 7:30pm

Place – Redlands, California

Suddenly the streets come alive with sound, smell, and color. Many people set up their tables with brightly colored table cloths to better call attention to their booth. As the citizens of Redlands walk up and down the street, they can hear the excitement ringing through the air. The young children run around begging their parents for sweets and toys, squealing with delight. The teenagers stand around with their cheap purses and cell phones trying to look smooth and cool. The scantily clad girls giggle at any boy who wears baggy pants. They flip their hair to tempt the boys to come closer so they can exchange numbers and “text.”

The young couples stroll up and down holding hands—incapable of keeping their hands to themselves. They whisper things in each other’s ears and giggle at whatever was said. The young lady holds up a pair of sunglasses with a smile that says to her man, “What do you think of these?” He gives her a kiss on the cheek and says, “Anything looks good on you. Don’t worry about it. Let me get those for you.” She smiles and allows him to purchase those sunglasses for her.

The tempting aromas of spiced nuts and fresh pretzels seduce practically everyone that saunters by. Cashews bathed in cinnamon, almonds immersed in sugar, and pretzels soaked in garlic butter—the smells are enough to make any health freak run away with a greenish hue to their face. But to all of the little children, it looks and smells like heaven in a cart.

Each table tries to pawn off something different. There is a stand for flowers; geraniums, daisies, roses, and lilies enough to fill a reception hall. The scents of those flowers float through the air and tickle the nostrils of every person with a refined sense of smell. Another booth sells wind chimes in many different shapes, sizes, colors, each one produces different sounds. Everyone in the area can hear the tinkling from a mile away. Chimes in the shapes of butterflies, a stretching kitten, ballet dancer, and an ocean scene decorate the table in a rainbow of colors. As you walk up the street a little further, you encounter a whole foods booth. They sell yeast, vitamin water, protein shakes, bean sprouts, and other foods. It’s under a large canopy so that nothing from the sky can fall into the food and contaminate it.

There is a man standing on the corner with his guitar serenading the crowds of people. His guitar case lies open at his feet and the case begs for money to be put into it to support the man’s hobby. The guitarist doesn’t usually get much money because his fifth string always sounds sharp—the musical members of the crowd don’t appreciate the tainted harmonics.

One of the best activities at market night is sitting down on the curb and watching all of the people. Nothing makes a person realize how different people are until sitting down and watching them with their loved ones or shopping. Everyone looks different and everyone has something special that makes them stand out. One woman had very extravagant eyebrows. Another man walked by with a bushy beard that made him look like Santa Claus. And a young girl walks by with eyes so big, so green, and eyelashes so long they look like they could eat someone. Each person has different mannerisms, a different walk, hand gestures—the combination is enough to make anyone laugh.

Then, the night is over. It is time for all of the stands to pack up their supplies and go home. The clothes that colored the sides of the road disappear. The hustle and bustle of people thin out and die until nobody is left. The canopies are taken apart and thrown into the backs of vans and trucks. The guitarist on the corner collects the money in his case, puts it in his pocket, packs up his things and leaves for home or another street corner to perform on. The smells disintegrate as the food booths pack up the food in boxes and coolers. Suddenly, the excess food is being sold for a dollar or less so they don’t have to take it home with them. The little children are falling asleep on their parents’ shoulders and in their strollers. The young couples are yawning and leaning on each other as they return to their cars. The scantily clad teenagers get stopped by the security guards because they aren’t accompanied by their parents.

And suddenly, market night is over. In a whirl of color, light, and sound, it’s gone. The street is long, dark, and dull—all life sucked out of it. The trees even seem to wilt a little without the lively hustle and bustle of people. The last family walks back to their car, dragging their distraught three-year-old to her car seat. She cries in protest, for she wanted to ride the pony one more time. But don’t worry, little girl. Market night, in all of its wonder and glory, will be back again next week.