Saturday, December 22, 2012

"iBought a New Phone"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan, who are dead and can’t sue me, I’m the very model of the modern middle-age man. Except, unfortunately, when it comes to technology.

Until recently, I didn’t have an iPhone, an iPad, an iPod or iTunes, although I did have iTeeth.

At the urging of my wife, Sue, who got into the 21st century when it actually started, I exchanged my dumbphone for a smartphone.

And it cost me only 99 cents.

“What would you like your phone to do?” asked Syed, a nice and knowledgeable retail sales consultant at the AT&T store.

“I’d like it to pick the winning Powerball numbers,” I responded.

“If I could find a phone like that,” Syed said, “I wouldn’t be working here.”

“My old phone is no help,” I said, showing Syed the ancient Samsung I had been using -- or trying to use -- for the past several years.

“He doesn’t even know how to retrieve messages,” Sue told Syed.

“It doesn’t matter,” I said in my own defense. “Nobody wants to talk with me anyway.”

Then I explained that my original cellphone, which the Samsung replaced, came with a 134-page user guide.

“My daughters had to program it for me,” I said. “It used to be that all you had to know about the telephone was that you said ‘hello’ when you picked it up and ‘goodbye’ when you put it down.”

“Things have changed,” Syed said.

“Do you know when telephone technology was at its peak?” I asked him.

“When?” Syed wondered.

“The day Alexander Graham Bell invented it,” I said. “It’s been all downhill from there. Now the industry is defined by this phrase: ‘Can you hear me now?’ Even the phone makers don’t expect the stupid thing to work.”

Sue helpfully pointed out that I was, as usual, wrong.

“The phone works fine if you’re standing in the right place,” she said.

I used my phone to call hers. It didn’t ring.

“See what I mean?” I said. “I’m standing right next to you!”

It was the mission of Syed, a 22-year-old college student who grew up with technology, to modernize me, a 58-year-old geezer who not only hasn’t grown up but remembers when high-tech was an electric typewriter.

“Are you looking for an iPhone?” Syed asked.

“iGuess,” I replied.

“I would recommend the iPhone 4,” he said.

“What happened to the first three?” I inquired. “Didn’t they work, either?”

“They got upgraded,” said Syed. “That’s what I am going to do with you.”

“So I’ll be the iJerry 4?” I said. “It sounds like a rock group.”

Sue looked at me like I had rocks in my head.

Syed was too kind to agree, so he said, “I think I can help you. I have nothing better to do.”

When I told Syed that he has an excellent sense of humor, he replied, “I’m a hoot. The saddest thing about me is that I’m not around myself when I tell jokes.”

It’s a good thing he was around the store when Sue and I came in because he explained in layman’s terms (so even an idiot like me could understand) what the iPhone offered, including a feature that lets me write drivel like this without having to get on a computer. Or an electric typewriter.

“It’s perfect for your lifestyle,” Syed said.

“I really don’t have a life,” I explained.

“That means you’ll have more time to enjoy it,” he said.

“Now you can retrieve messages,” Sue said.

“Even though nobody wants to talk with you,” Syed chimed in.

The phone, which ordinarily costs $549, was only 99 cents with my contract.

“I appreciate the savings,” I said, “but I’d still like to win Powerball.”

“Sorry,” Syed told me. “That’s the one thing your new phone can’t do.”
Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Christmas Letter 2012"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

Since I am in the holiday spirit (and, having just consumed a mug of hot toddy, a glass of eggnog and a nip of cheer, the holiday spirits are in me), I have once again decided to follow in that great tradition of boring everyone silly by writing a Christmas letter.

That is why I am pleased as punch (which I also drank) to present the following chronicle of the Zezima family, which includes Jerry, the patriarch; Sue, the matriarch; Katie and Lauren, the childriarchs; and Dave and Guillaume, the sons-in-lawiarch. Happy reading!

Dear friend(s):

It sure has been an exciting 2012 for the Zezimas! The good news is that nobody in the family went to prison, though three of us had brushes with the law.

The first occurred when Jerry got a $100 parking ticket and had to go to court, where he stood before the judge and pleaded “clueless.” The judge refrained from having Jerry handcuffed and instead told him to talk over his case with a prosecutor, who informed him that he had a second ticket that went back several years and would cost hundreds of dollars. It was all a misunderstanding and Jerry got away with only a $40 fine for the first ticket and a warning from the judge that “clueless is not an option.”

Jerry was back in court when he had to report for jury duty on a mob trial. A man with a ridiculous nickname was charged with extortion and murder. Jerry made the first cut and had to go back for the final round of jury selection but fortunately was not chosen, perhaps because word got out in the legal community that he was clueless. At least he is not sleeping with the fishes.

Sue and Katie had contact with the police when they got into fender benders, though not with each other. No one was hurt and, for the purposes of this Christmas letter, they were not at fault.

Sue got a shopping excursion off on the right foot when she took Jerry to buy two pairs of shoes. They originally cost $250 combined, but with the sale price on each, the return of another pair of shoes and the coupons Sue brought with her, the total came to $1.45. Then Sue took Jerry to buy a pair of sneakers. Jerry wanted LeBron X’s, which cost $300, but Sue got him another pair that cost only $49.99. No wonder Sue is Jerry’s sole mate.

Jerry learned other valuable lessons when he had an archery lesson (an arrow escape), piano lessons (he won’t be playing Carnegie Hall) and a horseback riding lesson (he resembled the back end of the animal).

Jerry got physical -- and not in a good way -- when he threw his back out (the garbageman wouldn’t take it) and got an infected finger (no, not that one). Then he started getting brochures in the mail from a funeral home. It ended up being a dead issue.

Superstorm Sandy knocked out Sue and Jerry’s power for nine days, proving that she (he?) had even more hot air than Jerry. The air turned cold in the house, so Sue and Jerry spent three days and nights with Lauren and Guillaume, who also hosted a wonderful Thanksgiving Day that included Katie and Dave. The six of us had a great time.

Actually, six and a half. The best news of 2012 is that there is going to be an addition to the family (Lauren is expecting!), meaning Sue and Jerry will be grandparents. Sue said there will be a lot of toys under next year’s Christmas tree. Jerry thinks the baby should get some, too.

Merry Christmas with love and laughter from the Zezimas.
Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Mr. Clean"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

In my early days as a journalist, when newsrooms looked like landfills and the remains of Jimmy Hoffa could have been safely hidden from prying reporters who had the story right under their noses, my desk was so messy that it should have been condemned by the board of health.

Over the years, however, I have cleaned up my act. Now my desk is so neat that it looks like I don’t do any real work, which I don’t.

Still, it made things much easier recently when my colleagues and I moved downstairs. The man in charge of the operation, which seemed as complicated as the invasion of Normandy but turned out to be remarkably smooth, was building services manager Tom Perrotta.

“I’ve seen a lot of messy people,” Tom said as we sat in his office, which was, of course, immaculate. “Some of them have tons of newspapers that you actually have to dig through to get to their desks.”

“I don’t read the newspaper,” I said.

“Really?” Tom replied quizzically.

“Actually, I do,” I said. “But we get it delivered. I leave tons of papers on the kitchen table until my wife bags them for recycling.”

“At least you’re not messy in the office,” Tom noted. “One guy needed 15 boxes to pack up all his stuff.”

“I used only one,” I said. “And I didn’t even fill it.”

“I noticed,” said Tom. “It’ll make it easier when you leave.”

“Do you know something I don’t?” I asked nervously.

“No,” Tom replied. “But you are closer to the door now. Maybe we can put your desk in the parking lot. The only thing you won’t have out there is climate control.”

Tom knew which box was mine because it contained a picture of the Three Stooges.

“How come you don’t have a picture of your wife and kids?” Tom inquired.

“I know what they look like,” I responded. “But the Stooges are my inspiration. Besides, the photo of them adds a touch of class to my work space.”

Speaking of family, Tom said he and his wife are very neat and that they have passed their cleanliness on to their sons, ages 8 and 3.

“My wife is neat, too,” I said. “At home, I’m not.”

“Sometimes, opposites attract,” Tom said.

“If we ever won the lottery, we’d never collect the money,” I said. “Either my wife would inadvertently throw out the ticket while cleaning the house or I’d put it somewhere for safekeeping and never find it again.”

“How about your kids?” Tom asked.

“They’re out of the house now, but the nest isn’t empty because we still have a lot of their stuff,” I said. “Once, when my younger daughter was home from college for the summer, my wife said her room was a disaster area. I called the White House to see if we could have it officially declared a disaster area so we would be eligible for federal funds to clean it up.”

“What happened?” Tom wanted to know.

“The first lady’s press secretary suggested we close the door,” I said.

“If our boys play with something, they put it away when they’re finished,” Tom said. “The younger one is in nursery school, where they sing ‘The Cleanup Song.’ It teaches the kids to be neat.”

Tom played the song for me on YouTube. It’s pretty catchy, although I couldn’t get the jingle out of my head for two days.

“You should pick up your toys when you’re finished playing with them,” Tom told me. “Be as neat at home as you are at work. I’m sure your wife would appreciate it.”

I told Tom that my colleagues and I appreciated the fine work he and his crew did in moving us downstairs.

“It wasn’t that bad,” he said. “But we never did find the remains of Jimmy Hoffa.”
Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, November 9, 2012

"Diary of a Mad Storm Survivor"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
Gray, wet and windy. And that just describes me. It also describes Sandy, who is due at my house in a few hours. I put out a welcome mat. It blows away.
I am worried about two things: a skylight that would leak during a drought and a double-trunked oak that I am sure will fall on the house. At least it would give me hardwood floors.
My wife, Sue, calls me at work to say Sandy has arrived.
“Don’t let her in,” I say.
Miffed at our lack of hospitality, Sandy knocks out our power and leaves.
Speaking of leaves, Sue says they are strewn all over the yard. So is a huge branch that has just missed the shed. But the skylight is not leaking. And the oak is still standing.
I can’t make it home, so I stay in a hotel where the company has kindly put me up with several colleagues. One of them brings cheese and crackers and two bottles of wine. We play Scrabble in the restaurant. Words are suggested to describe the situation. None can be repeated here.
I shower at the hotel, which gratifies my colleagues when we return to the office. At the end of my shift, I go home to survey the damage by flashlight. Trees have fallen in the yards of neighbors on all three sides of us. For once in my life, I have lucked out. But we still have no power. Dinner is cold chicken I have to cut with a steak knife. Brrr appetit!
Halloween. Tricks but no treats. It is too cold in the house to shower, so I brush my teeth and go to work.
A female colleague says, “Your hair is neatly coiffed. What did you do to it?”
I reply, “I slept on it.”
Sue, a teacher, is home because school is closed indefinitely. She drives more than half an hour to the house of our younger daughter, Lauren, and her husband, Guillaume, who have power. Sue showers and does our laundry.
Later, after we both get home, we have a romantic candlelight dinner: cold meatloaf. For dessert, there is melted ice cream.
I take the coldest, fastest shower of my life: 1 minute 47 seconds. Then I go to a convenience store to get coffee for Sue.

“Do you have gas?” a woman asks.
“I haven’t even had breakfast,” I respond.
I bring Sue her coffee and go to work. On the way back home, I stop at the Chinese restaurant next to the convenience store for a quart of wonton soup to go with the rest of the cold chicken. Yum.
Sue is sick.
“The Weather Channel should declare this house the cold spot in the nation,” I tell her.
“Achoo!” she responds, adding: “I’m going to Lauren and Guillaume’s. Meet me there later.”
After work, I go home to pack a bag in the dark. Then I drive to a nearby gas station. I sit in line for more than an hour. When I finally get to the entrance, Joseph, who manages the station with his brother, John, says they are out of gas.
“Come back in 10 minutes,” Joseph whispers through my rolled-down window.
When I go back, Joseph lets me in and waves the other drivers away. John fills my tank.
“You are a good customer,” says Joseph.
“And you and John are good guys,” I reply gratefully.
I drive to Lauren and Guillaume’s and have my first hot meal in days: Lauren’s homemade chili. It is not chilly. But it is delicious. Sue and I climb into a warm bed and sleep like babies.
For the first time in nearly a week, Sue and I wake up not feeling like frozen fish sticks. The highlight of the day is waiting in line with Guillaume so he can fill his car’s gas tank. I keep calling our house phone to see if (a) we have power or (b) a burglar answers. No power. No burglar, either. Still, there is no chance we are going back home.
Guillaume and I spend the day watching football. Sue calls the power company’s hotline, which apparently is the only line the company has that isn’t cold, to see if our house has power. It doesn’t. We stay another night. I am beginning to feel like the Man Who Came to Dinner.
Sue and I get up early, thank Lauren and Guillaume for their fabulous hospitality and drive back to our house, which feels like a meat locker. The carbon monoxide detector is beeping, so we call 911. The fire department shows up and determines it’s only a dying battery. Later, Sue discovers that the battery in her car is dying. Our neighbor Ron kindly jump-starts it.
On the way home from work, I pick up a hot meal from the Chinese restaurant. Sue and I decide to spend the night in the house. I go out at 10:30 p.m. to get gas. Two and a half hours later, I drive back home with a full tank. It’s 1 a.m. I dress like I am going on an Arctic expedition (boxer shorts, flannel pajama bottoms, a T-shirt, a long-sleeve cotton top, a sweatshirt, sweatpants and two pairs of socks) and climb into bed with Sue. We shiver ourselves to sleep.
Election Day. A nor’easter is coming. Bluster on all fronts.
At 5:55 p.m., toward the end of a busy day at work, the call comes from Sue: “We have power!”
I let out a whoop. My colleagues applaud. A chill (the good kind) runs down my spine.
I arrive home to a beautiful sight: lights. I enter to a beautiful feeling: warmth.
I think about all the people who have lost their homes or, worse, their lives. I know that Sue and I are lucky.
Good riddance, Sandy. From now on, the only thing around here that’s gray, wet and windy will be me.
Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, October 26, 2012

"Stepping Out With LeBron"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

If the shoe fits, get LeBron James to buy it for you. That’s what I wanted to do recently when I went to the Nike Factory Store in Riverhead, N.Y., to purchase a pair of sneakers.

I like to think that LeBron and I have something in common: He can dunk and I’ve reached the age where I am starting to dribble.

But there is no question that, because LeBron has made millions playing basketball and I had to take a vow of poverty when I went into journalism, he has more money than I do.

So I was hoping he would help me out financially if I decided to get a pair of his LeBron X shoes, which are retailing for about $300.

Unfortunately, the superstar wasn’t in the store when my wife, Sue, and I showed up on a busy Saturday. But I didn’t need him because I was helped by a friendly and knowledgable sales associate named Sattarock Blackwood.

“I’d like to try on a pair of the LeBron X shoes,” I told Satty, as he is known to his friends and customers. My mistake, not surprising because I am an uncool geezer, was saying “X,” as in the letter, not “X,” as in the Roman numeral for 10.

Satty, a cool young person (he’s XXI), politely ignored my gaffe and replied, “We don’t have any. They sold out in one day.”

As a man who can best be described as economically challenged, I couldn’t understand how so many people could afford to shell out so much money for a product that doesn’t include a roof and an attached garage.

“They’re expensive,” Satty acknowledged. “I designed 28 styles of LeBron X’s, but I couldn’t afford to buy them.”

“You designed the shoes?” I asked, flabbergasted.

“Actually,” Satty said, “I went online to the Nike website. I mixed and matched colors and different elements like wings and Kevlar laces and carbon fiber soles for the LeBron X. You can do it, too.”

“Can I design my own shoe?” I wondered.

“Sure,” said Satty. “You’ll have to come up with a symbol for yourself. LeBron has the crown, for King James.”

“Maybe I’ll use a Z,” I said. “It could stand for my last name. Or zero, so my shoe could be the Jerry 0. That’s how much it would be worth.”

Since I could never see Nike putting its “Swoosh” logo on my sneakers, I asked Satty if I could try on a pair of LeBron 9 Elite Away shoes, which were going for $179.

“They look like ski boots,” Sue said of the black size 11s.

“Or Frankenstein shoes,” I said. “But they feel good.”

“I think you look cool,” Satty said.

“Hon,” said Sue, “if they could help you play basketball like LeBron James, you could quit your day job.”

Unfortunately, it was a Catch-XXII: I couldn’t even afford the lesser-priced LeBron shoes that could have made me a multimillionaire basketball star, so I looked at other kinds, such as walking shoes, running shoes and training shoes.

“You don’t have lounging shoes, do you?” I asked.

“No,” Satty answered. “I think those are called slippers.”

I settled for a pair of white trainers, which were almost as comfortable as slippers. They didn’t have wings or Kevlar laces or carbon fiber soles, and they didn’t have anyone’s symbol on the back, but they did come with a great price tag: $49.99.

“You got a good deal,” Sue said.

“And you still look cool,” Satty added.

“Thanks,” I said as I strolled out. “If you happen to see LeBron, tell him he missed out on a terrific bargain.”

Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, October 12, 2012

"An Arrow Escape"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

When I was a kid, I wanted to be like Robin Hood, except I wouldn’t be caught dead in tights. But I did love the concept of using a bow and arrows to rob from the rich and give to the poor.

Now that I’m an adult with two kids I put through college and married off, I’d rob from the rich and keep the money myself.

To find out how, I went to Smith Point Archery in Patchogue, N.Y.

“We’ve had students ranging from 4 years old to 90,” said owner Jared Schneider. “I’m guessing you are somewhere in between.”

“Physically I’m closer to the higher end,” I responded, “but intellectually I’m in the opposite direction.”

“Perfect,” said Schneider, 32, a former New York state archery champion who began shooting arrows when he was 5.

“When I was 5, I had those little rubber-tipped suction arrows,” I told him.

“The arrows we have here are a little stronger than that,” said Schneider, adding that archery has become very popular, not just because of the Olympics, but because of “The Hunger Games,” the young-adult novel that was turned into a blockbuster movie.

“I haven’t seen the film,” I told Schneider, “but I’ve watched ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ about a dozen times.”

“We have Robin Hood-style bows,” said Schneider, referring to the traditional one-piece weapons, as opposed to high-tech compound bows.

Then he had one of his merry men show me how to use one.

Troy Kenny introduced himself by saying, “Never trust a guy with two first names.”

I said, “Never trust a guy who has never tried archery.”

“I bet you’ll be shooting bull’s-eyes in no time,” said Kenny, 41, who has been an archer since he was 12.

“Do you think I can be as good as William Tell and shoot an apple off someone’s head?” I asked.

“I’m not going to volunteer,” said Kenny, who presumably didn’t want to look like Steve Martin with a fake arrow through his skull. “But I think you’ll do all right. You can eat the apple when you get home.”

He showed me the recurve bow and field-point arrows I would be using.

“Where do you buy your equipment?” I wondered. “Target?”

“No,” he replied. “But we have plenty of targets here.”

The one I would be shooting at was 10 yards away. More advanced archers shoot at targets positioned at twice that distance.

Kenny handed me the bow and explained that the arrow, with the cock feather facing me, would rest on an anchor point, and that the arrow’s notched end, or nock, would be fitted onto the nocking point of the bowstring.

I stood facing a wall and turned my body 90 degrees toward the target.

“Hold your left arm straight out,” Kenny said, adding that I should put three fingers below the nock and pull back on the bowstring.

“Your form is very good,” he said. “Take aim and slide your fingers off the string.”

I shot an arrow in the air; where it landed was just not fair: I missed the target completely, though I did hit the large board on which it was mounted.

“Don’t worry,” Kenny said. “Try again.”

My next shot hit the outermost ring of the target. The one after that was closer to the center. The one after that was even better.

Then, on my fifth shot: Bull’s-eye!

“Great!” Kenny exclaimed. “Now all you need is a Robin Hood bull’s-eye. That means your next shot has to split the first bull’s-eye arrow.”

My next shot wasn’t even close. Neither were the six other arrows I shot before giving up.

“I’m no Robin Hood,” I admitted.

“That’s OK,” Kenny said consolingly. “At least you don’t have to wear tights.”
Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, September 28, 2012

"The Ride Stuff"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

As a guy who is often compared to the back end of a horse, I had always wanted to see how the other half lives. I got a chance recently when I met Frank, the mane man at Greenlawn Equestrian Center on Long Island, N.Y., where I had gone for a horseback riding lesson.

I was very impressed with Frank, not only because he is a retired police horse who used to work for the NYPD (if a cop show were filmed in his stall, it would be called “Law & Odor”), but because he stands 16.3 hands high (5-foot-7 at the withers, though he is more than 6 feet tall at his full height) and weighs about 1,200 pounds, roughly the size of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

At 13, Frank is too old by horse standards to be chasing bad guys, but he can still outrun the fastest human, even with a police partner -- or, in my case, an eccentric equestrian -- on his back.

According to a gallop poll conducted by trainer Hannie van Kretschmar, Frank didn’t run, trot or canter during my lesson, but he did saunter, stroll and otherwise walk.

“Frank is a sweetheart,” said Hannie, 24, a proud graduate of the Lookout Mountain School of Horseshoeing in Gadsden, Ala. “He’s strong but gentle. And he has a good life here.”

“You mean he leads a stable existence?” I asked.

“Definitely,” said Hannie, adding that the same is true for all 15 of Greenlawn’s horses, who eat four times a day, have late-night snacks and get their stalls cleaned twice a day.

“They also get pedicures,” said Hannie, who keeps the horses’ nails neatly trimmed so they can hoof it on out to give people rides.

“This is like a spa,” I noted, “except it doesn’t smell like one.”

Hannie gave me a helmet (Frank didn’t need one) and led us both outside, where I stood on a platform so I could climb aboard.

Sitting atop Frank was like being in an SUV (Saddled Utility Vehicle), with bucket seating, power steering and, considering Frank’s luxurious mane, driver’s-side hair bag.

“Frank is a Thoroughbred quarter horse,” Hannie told me.

“If he had the other three-quarters, he’d be as big as an elephant,” I retorted.

Frank snorted.

“Technically,” Hannie said, “he’s a dark bay Appendix gelding.”

“Poor guy,” I said.

“The procedure helps keep males calm,” Hannie explained.

“I can just imagine,” I said, wincing at the thought.

Initially, Hannie led Frank, with me in the saddle, around a covered ring. But after giving me instructions on how to handle the horse -- tugging on the reins to steer him left or right, pulling back and using voice commands to put on the brakes, directing him around orange cones, standing in the stirrups and leaning forward in a two-point position -- Hannie let me take control of Frank myself.

“You’re doing an excellent job,” she said as she walked alongside.

“Are you talking to me or Frank?” I asked.

“Both of you,” Hannie replied.

It was clear that Frank and I had bonded. Yes, it’s a guy thing (or, in his case, a former guy thing), but we hit it off beautifully.

When the half-hour lesson was over, I dismounted without breaking a leg, in which case I would have to be shot, and told Frank he was great. He shook his head.

“You’re too modest,” I said. Then I asked Hannie if I had the potential to be an equestrian in the next Olympics.

“Maybe,” she answered. “You have three and a half years to train.”

I turned to Frank and said, “Want to go for it?”

Frank didn’t say nay.

Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, September 14, 2012

"They Mean Business"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

Ever since the economy turned so sour that a lemon would seem sweet by comparison, I have wondered if there are any entrepreneurs out there with a bold business model that can help get the country back on its feet.

I am happy to report that I recently found two of them. They are Sydney Lippman and Isabella Nuzzo, co-owners of Syd and Izzy’s Lemonade Stand, a budding Fortune 500 corporation headquartered in one of the nation’s top corporate headquarters, my hometown of Stamford, Conn.

I met them on Scofieldtown Road, where Sydney and Isabella, both 10 and fifth-graders at Northeast Elementary School, had set up shop. In a brilliant advertising ploy designed to attract customers quickly, the girls were shouting and waving their arms as I drove down the street.

As a father who remembers when my two young daughters sold lemonade and made more money than I had in my wallet at the time, mainly because the money in my wallet went to buy their lemonade, I turned around and parked near the stand.

“You’re our first customer!” Isabella chirped.

It felt good to get in on the ground floor -- or at least the ground, since that’s where the stand was situated -- of such a promising enterprise.

The girls’ corporate slogan, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” was handsomely hand-lettered on the cardboard sign attached to the front of the stand.

“Did you actually make this lemonade?” I asked the two young entrepreneurs, who also had written “Secret recipe!” on a corner of the sign.

“Yes,” Sydney assured me.

The tycoons explained that they had squeezed the juice of several lemons into water but that it was taking too much time, so they combined their lemonade with a store-bought brand to come up with their now-not-so-secret (sorry, girls) recipe.

It was uniquely delicious. And worth every penny of the 50 cents they charged per cup.

“We were going to charge $2,” Sydney said, “but we thought it would be unfair to overcharge people, so we decided to charge 50 cents.”

If you have a fair price, customers will buy more of your product and you will end up making more money, the girls noted.

I was impressed, not only with their business acumen, but with their approach to customer service.

“In business, you don’t want to be too grumpy to your customers,” Isabella said. “Always smile,” she added with, of course, a smile.

At this moment, a woman and her two young daughters came along and bought three cups of Syd and Izzy’s lemonade.

“This is very good!” the woman exclaimed. Her daughters agreed.

“If you have a quality product,” Sydney confided after they left, “people will buy it.”

“Business leaders and politicians could learn a lot from you girls,” I said. “If they followed your example of combining quality with fair pricing and good customer service, the economy would rebound.”

“We would be happy to give them tips,” said Isabella, who is thinking of selling the bracelets she has made out of soda can pop-top rings. She also has a line of colorful duct tape products, including a pocketbook and a wallet.

“She’s very entrepreneurial,” said Isabella’s mom, Gerri Nuzzo, whose older daughter, Ariana, 14, also is creative and would be part of the corporate team.

When I called back later in the afternoon, Gerri reported that Syd and Izzy’s Lemonade Stand had grossed $10 in two and a half hours, pretty good considering that Scofieldtown is not a heavily traveled road.

“They did all right,” Gerri said.

Sydney’s dad, Craig Lippman, concurred when I spoke with him by phone a couple of days later.

“I’m delighted that my daughter understands the supply-and-demand curve,” said Craig, who works in financial markets for Thomson Reuters. “I’ll go back and cut prices if it will increase business.” He paused and added: “I could learn a lot from these girls. The whole country could.”

Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima