The Fonz and the Grapes (Aesop’s “Happy Days”)

By Chris Mittelstaedt

Early November 1975. Richie, Chachi, and Ralph Malph are drinking milkshakes at Arnold’s Drive-In Restaurant, swapping wholesome fantasy stories about catsuit-clad rock star Leather Tuscadero. Joanie, aka “Shortcake,” stops by and crowds into their booth. “Hey, guys, what’s up? What are you talking about?” The awkward silence of three embarrassed teenage boys blushing and choking on their tongues is deafening. The Fonz changes the subject by thumping the jukebox. “Heyeaahh!” Thumbs up all around. “Well,” Joanie says, “if nothing’s going on, how about we all head out for a picnic? Come on, Fonzie!”

Thirty minutes later, the gang is huddled underneath a bunch of trees clustered with beautiful grape vines. (Remember, “Happy Days” was set in Wisconsin but shot on location in California?) Joanie breaks out The FruitGuys crate: Liberty Apples, Comice Pears, Autumn Royal Grapes, pomegranates, and a sandwich with a special side of parsley just for the Fonz. “Hey, Joanie, what gives?” moans Chachi. “That’s not enough grapes for all of us.” Just then the gang notices a dense cluster hanging right above their heads, just out of reach. Fonz gives the vine a little thump and a “Heyeaahh!” but to no avail – the grapes won’t fall. Richie gets sore and, brushing his fox-red hair out of his eyes, grumbles, “Those grapes are probably sour anyway!” Luckily, Fonzie stays cool as a cucumber and remembers a line from Zen Motorcycle Maintenance and the Art of Seasonal Agriculture. “Those grapes aren’t sour, Richie, but they are going out of season.”

“That’s right,” Joanie chimes in. “But we’ve got an awful lot of great fruit to look forward to. Just check out these amazing Liberty Apples The FruitGuys found for us on the West coast – they’re the first of the Washington crop, and they’re as sweet as Chachi’s love notes. And don’t forget about these Comice Pears from Stillwater Orchards in Courtland, CA and another round of pomegranates from Cruz Farm in Porterville!”

“Correctamundo, Shortcake!” Fonz is feeling good and combing his hair rapidly now. “FruitGuys Midwest customers will see the first Fuyu Persimmons of the year, and Eastcoasters are going to get a spectacular Cameo Apple from Kauffman’s Fruit Farm in Lancaster, PA. Happy Days are here again!” Suddenly the boys break into an a cappella rendition of Leather Tuscadero’s dance hit, “The Fonz.” Everybody gets into the groovy moves: twist to the left, then right in a hitchhiking motion, click fingers, drop to one knee, then stand up with the thumbs-up.

Enjoy and be Fruitful!

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