Lessons From a Watermelon

I am sitting here contemplating a watermelon. It is green and globular, the latest 21st century version of watermelon-alia.

Okay, there's no such thing. Its real name, according to my science teacher, Mrs. Pediawiki, is "citrullus lanatus, a vinelike scrambler and trailer." This baby weighs 13 pounds. I doubt if she could do much scrambling. Right now, Citrullus is presiding, in solitary stripey splendor, over my kitchen table, dominating the room and daring me to defy her dominance.

I defy thee, thou bloated bowling ball, thou steroidal cucumber, thou my problem child. I will overcome! I will. Maybe. Citrullus L. tastes best chilled, her label says. In my house we will never have that treat, never know the thrill of the chill.

Why? Because there's no room for C.L. in my fridge. Simple as that. In fact, I don't know what to do with her. She was on major sale, and I couldn't resist her bulbous charms and her shrunken price. (I tend to like things that are rounded and slightly overweight, like me. I like pears, too.)

I will never understand grocery store labeling. C.L. has a smaller cousin that bears a label identifying her as a "personal watermelon." Huh? I guess I'm supposed to say "Listen up, everybody, this is my personal watermelon, got that? So HANDS OFF!" Doesn't sound very friendly. In kindergarten, weren't we taught to share?

And there's a product in the deli department known as "executive turkey breast." This is totally mystifying. I couldn't order that with a straight face. I can't bring myself to say "Half a pound of the executive turkey breast, please, and make sure it's from an executive turkey, not one of those ordinary worker turkeys." Yes, some executives are turkeys, but I didn't realize it could be the other way around.

I have a friend who always asks the deli guy, "Is this... fill in blank.. .coleslaw, egg salad, whatever... fresh?" Her son says one of these days the clerk is going to reply, "No Ma'am. It's not so fresh. It's been sitting here about a week."

But back to Citrullus Lanatus. I just love watermelon. I could eat this sucker all by myself in no time, I told myself in the store. So I'll cut it in half with a medieval war axe (I'll find one somewhere), eat some, give some to the neighbors and chill the other half.

Wrong. The reality is, I don't have room in the fridge for even half this weather balloon. Hmm. Aha! The light dawns. Maybe that's why they were on sale. No one else has room either. But other people realized that.

And here's something I've been wondering. People are now juicing every fruit on the planet. But I've never seen bottled watermelon juice. How come?

My edible friend Citrullus is a classic case of overdevelopment. As with so many things today, this critter has been over-engineered. Like my cousin Cara's face.

"Wrong," said my husband. "It's a classic case of eyes-bigger-than-stomach. Now you've simply got a classic case of hindsight."

Well, every mistake carries within it a learning opportunity, right? How many times have we gotten involved in a project that turns out to be too big for us to handle? Don't ask.

So how do we avoid this? By remembering and not doing it again. By trying not to be dazzled by something that seems attractive before we've really considered what all the ramifications might be and what problems could arise. Same holds true for making a major purchase or choosing a lover. Before you sign on, make sure you have room in your emotional fridge for all the probabilities. (Sigh.) My watermelon life lesson.

So now I have several choices:

1. Sit here and watch the thing rot.

2. Invite 12 people for dinner immediately. What an attractive invitation that would be: "Help. I bought this huge watermelon too big for my fridge and I need you to come eat it up before it rots."

3. Take out all the shelves and rearrange them so there's room. Too much work, and what would I do with all the other stuff in there?

4. Get a bigger refrigerator.

5. Slice up the melon, wrap the pieces and try to tuck them in here and there. Nope. Still not enough room.

Oh well, next shopping trip I'll remember to just buy a personal watermelon. But then I would have to eat the whole thing all by myself, and not give you any no matter how hard you begged. And there would probably be retribution. Evildoers sometimes get their comeuppance.

Having eaten it all, I would climb onto my personal scale and when I'd look down I wouldn't enjoy my personal numbers. It would be like eating deli that's not so fresh.