Whenever there’s a lull in our dinner table conversation, Charlotte will usually jump into the void by asking us to go around the table and say our favorite/least favorite [thing that happened that day, color, song, movie, etc.]. Emma’s 14 so, for example, her least favorite thing, on any given night will be “your face” or “your mom” so sometimes we skip her. Last night it was favorite/least favorite fruit and things got heated. Naturally, I said “grapefruit/papaya” - to me (and you, I bet) there’s nothing better than a just-picked grapefruit and papaya is just weird and that’s indisputable. That’s not where things went off the rails though. Friends, Charlotte said her favorite fruit was honeydew.
I know. That’s when I lost it.
Perhaps I overreacted but I said “NO, NO IT’S NOT! YOU HAVE TO PICK SOMETHING ELSE”! She was taken aback. Everyone was, really. I could tell by the way MK was looking at me I’d not properly transitioned from “work Gary” to “home Gary” and I’d forgotten my audience. Again. I don’t stomp around the office yelling about fruit, usually, but I do expect people to support their conclusions with compelling evidence. (I never said I was fun to be around at work or at home.)
In my defense, we do have three smart kids who can hold their own in any discussion and I think this may be partly because I’ve never been very good at speaking to children like children. I couldn’t possibly figure out which words were appropriate for various ears at various ages and that sounds like too much work and not enough direct and actual conversation, which is something I crave. I acknowledge they are smart in larger part because of their genetic link to their mother.
But here’s the point (I swear there’s a point) - if we’re being honest, collectively, as human fruit eaters, is it really possible that honeydew merits inclusion on anyone’s top fruits list? I think it’s a bad answer. What does honeydew have to recommend it? In my experience, it’s mostly served unripened in a “fruit salad” to take up space in a plastic container. There is no “honeydew” flavored candy or honeydew-flavored carbonated beverage. If you’ve ever been sitting around thinking “you know I could really go for some honeydew right about now” then please tell me I’m wrong. I’m willing to bet I am the first person to string those words together and I did it in a preposterous hypothetical. Honeydew is a utility fruit. It has a beautiful, delicious-sounding name but it over-promises and under-delivers. Think for one second about every single fruit tray you’ve ever seen at every sad office party you’ve ever been to. What’s left when the party’s over? Honeydew. For miles. That was my point. I want to know your real favorite fruit. Not the fruit you had that day, maybe. If we’re going to do this “favorites” exercise, I want you to plumb the depths of your soul. (Plums, come to think of it, are delicious and are acceptable as an answer.)
Everyone at dinner reacted how I expect Wimsetts to react so I was secretly pleased when everyone at the table switched their favorite fruit to honeydew in a show of solidarity and to send me totally over-the-edge. I didn’t bite. But I did more calmly ask Charlotte to at least reconsider and get back to me. I was too flustered to finish my meal and so I excused myself for a quick walk.
Later that night, as I was watching the Olympics, Charlotte came down to kiss me goodnight. She’s very patient with me. She told me she loved me and she always says it like she means it which warms me.
“But not as much as I love honeydew!” she cackled. Then she squirmed away. Good for her, I thought. If she really loves it more than any other fruit, I can come around to that. In time.