A tale from the past, simple, to get me back writing...
Ellen loves watermelon. No, that doesn't do it justice. Ellen cherishes watermelon. Nope, still not enough. Try this: my wife loves watermelon more than the pope loves God. Yeah, ok, that'll do. She's pretty good at telling a ripe one from one that could still use a few days on the vine. Unfortunately we both discovered that she's not so good at spotting overripe ones.
*GASP!!!* "OH MY GOD!!!"
Ok, this can only mean one of two things... either Ellen has found a kitten crawling around in the produce section, or...
"Watermelons are on sale!!!"
Yup. If my wife looked at me the way she looked at these giant green ovoids, sitting in a cardboard tub on the gritty-white tile of the grocery store floor, I'd be in the emergency room trying to explain just how I got teeth marks... well, never mind. I always wondered where Japanese animators came up with that deliriously happy face they give their characters when they see the true love of their life. The first time Ellen saw watermelon for less than $2.00 each, I found out.
"They look like rejects from Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. Like the pods could only grab dwarves or something."
"Oh shut up. *Heavenly sigh.* Which one... which one..."
Gathering at its most primal, that's what I was watching. Men hunt for things, we walk around with a clear picture of what we want, spot it, grab it, and head out the door. Good for shirts, bad for fruit. Women, well, Ellen anyway, can sit for what seems like hours pouring over one nearly identical fruit after another. After another. After another.
I'd long since moved on to the beer isle (I hunt for my own stuff, thank you) when she waddled around the corner with her selected prize slung in her arms. A just about perfectly round watermelon, about two, two and a half times as big as a bowling ball and nearly as heavy, a striped black-green croquet ball for giants.
"That's kind of a weird color," I said judiciously.
"Isn't it cool?"
One does not contradict the Empress, especially about fruit, so I let it slide. After all, the last time I picked up fruit it was only good for half a day. I mean, how was I to know syrup at the bottom of a strawberry container wasn't a good sign?
She was so proud of it that when we got home it was put in a place of honor on the dining room table. I had to eat around it. However, since we were running late that day, Ellen didn't actually have time to carve it up before bed time. It would get to spend the night overlooking the living room, like some giant green eyeball.
3 a.m. Can't sleep. Never play video games after 9 p.m., otherwise you end up dodging missiles in your helicopter only to be punched awake with a muzzy, "stop flying through the valley you retard, go to sleep." Apparently I tend to act out my dreams a little more forcefully than I realize. Well, nothing for it now, grab your book and head for the couch.
As I turned on the lamp in the living room I noticed the light gave the watermelon an almost malevolent look, all shadows and black-green stripes. What’s worse, the longer I looked at it, the more I became convinced it had moved. Ok, no more playing video games after 9 p.m. and no more mint chocolate chip ice cream with beer. I settled down with my back to it because it kept freaking me out.
I looked around. What the hell was that? Couldn't have been the cats. When they want to make noise at night it usually involves something along the lines of a cavalry charge combined with a marching band. Besides I could see most of them, one was even busily trying to demonstrate that cat ass was the best sleep aid in the world. I tossed that one down and started reading again.
Ok, this is just weird. Sounds like someone thumping a basketball. Waitaminute. I turned and looked at the watermelon. Swear to God it looked back at me.
It's 3 a.m., you can't sleep, and you're staring at a watermelon. A goddamned bowling ball fruit. No, it hasn't moved again. It's a watermelon. It doesn't have legs.
Minutes seemed to go by. Nothing happened. So I went and turned back to my book, more than a little freaked out.
Ok enough's enough. This time it was loud enough to wake me up from my snooze. More, I knew, I knew where it was coming from.
But there in the middle of the night, with a police siren echoing faintly in the background, I had to be careful. Didn't want to spook it. I quietly rolled out of the couch, stood up, and walked softly toward what had become my very own green fruity raven.
Ah-ha! I had caught it! I confidently walked up to the thing, now more curious than anything else. I even saw it tip a little with each ping. It really had moved! Ha-ha-HA! Everything was under control, mystery solved, no worries, no crazies. Then, as I touched it, it gave one last defiant PING!!!
Well, not exploded as in "KABOOM", more like a fissure opened up in its side and with a fwoosh a jet of watermelon juice shot out with enough force to splash against the wall it was sitting beside. When you're confronted with something so surprising, so completely out of your realm of expectation, the darnedest things go through your mind. For a second or two as I watched it spray its sugary wrath against the walls I could only think of one thing, "Oh my God. I've killed Ellen's watermelon."
I quickly came to my wits and grabbed the fizzing thing, ran around the counter, and dumped it (gently!) into the sink. I watched in a kind of horror as it actually began to deflate a little, like some sad vegetable monster from a 50's horror flick. The cats slowly gathered around doing their "curiosity bob", apparently intrigued that what was once merely a strangely shaped rock had suddenly become a fizzy smelly not-quite-food thing. As I turned off the light I could hear someone, probably Ted (the cat-shaped goat), licking at the juice as it trickled Hitchcock-like down the drain.
"Scooottt?" Every man knows this tone. Only a woman can put a six-word sentence into a single pitched word. "Why is the watermelon in the sink?"
Morning. I had survived the attack of the Really Weird Watermelon. Now I had to survive the wrath of Watermelon Woman.
"It blew up."
"What?!? What are you talking about?"
"No, really, it blew up... fwoosh! Started spraying juice all over the place like some sort of green fire hose."
She'd already got out the knife and started cutting. We could tell immediately that something was wrong... no watermelon either of us had ever seen was that red on the inside. Looked more like red velvet cake than fruit. What's more, it was still fizzing a little, like someone had poured half a Sprite into it. It smelled like the inside of a freshly opened soda bottle. Ellen didn't even try to eat it.
Of course, as with all triumphant rescues, there's always some chink, some flaw in your cunning plan.
"Look at these walls! Why didn't you clean this up last night?"