Sometimes in life those things touted as advancements really aren’t: Betamax VCRs, 3-D movies, and all the so-called “improvements” in watermelons over the past 40 years.
On this Independence Day, it’s only fitting that the defenseless watermelon is finally given its independence — independence from any and all tampering. And it’s important that the youth of today be instructed in the rules. Yes, dear reader, the giant sweet melon has rules.
Growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, the July 4th celebration actually started on the 1st. That’s the day us five kids piled into the green station wagon with the faux wood panels, and Dad drove us to the Farmer’s Market. On the way, the rules for picking out the perfect melon were reviewed. And even though we’d all had heard the same three rules for years, we never interrupted Dad. After all, melon picking was a serious business. If mistakes were made, it could be disastrous.
First, all watermelons for the 4th are to be red on the inside – bright ruby red. Any other color is unacceptable.
Now I know some genius wearing a white lab coat thought it would be really cool to have a watermelon with yellow on the inside. Why yellow, and not green, blue, or orange, I really don’t know. But yellow ain’t natural.
Have you tasted a yellow watermelon? Trust me, you don’t want to. It tastes about as good as it looks. Besides, there aren’t many things yellow in nature that taste good – except squash and corn. And even I know a yellow watermelon ain’t a squash or a corn.
Second, all melons must past the “thump” test. Once the right size melon was picked, then it was thumped to make sure it was ripe.
I was the best thumper in the family because I’d had so much practice. Thumping utilized two fingers of the right hand, the thumb and second finger over from the thumb. That would be the same two utilized to fling an underhanded concealed spitball in Old Mrs. Crabtree’s third-grade class.
Like I said, I’d had lots of practice thumping. If the melon passed the thump test, then it was time for the third and most important rule.
When I was 7, Big Brother James didn’t pay attention to this rule and ruined the entire Fourth of July. James had picked out a seedless.
Again, some genius with a lab coat got tired of spitting out seeds and decided it would just be wonderful if he didn’t have to do all that spitting. The genius with the lab coat is now happy, but his improvement has made all of the rest of us miserable. Ever heard of a seed-spitting contest with a seedless watermelon? I didn’t think so.
Progress is inevitable: computers, cell phones, now there are cell phones that are computers. It’s a struggle just to keep up with the ever-changing world, but when it comes to the staple of the 4th, keep your hands off my melons.
This Independence Day, all you farmers out there in those fields, it’s time to rise up! Rise up and put your foot down. All this governmental control and manipulation of our beloved melon has to stop!
Just be careful when you put your foot down. You don’t want to squash the squash or those squash lovers will get all fired up again. And that’s a revolution I don’t want to fight.
Besides, it’s probably how we got that yellow melon in the first place. I think the guy in the white lab coat is a squash lover.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]