Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The best grapefruit EVER!

     Humor often doesn't translate well, and sometimes the funnier the moment, the more delicate and difficult to dig up and transplant.
    So from the start, I want to acknowledge that it will take a bit of careful spadework to move this from memory and make it blossom here. Perhaps the humor will be lost. But we will try.
    First, context. I eat a grapefruit, almost every day, at breakfast. Several reasons: I like grapefruit. They're low in calories and filling: 120 calories for a big honking softball-sized fruit. And then there is Vitamin C, and that wonderful tart smell. I've lauded grapefruit here in the past.
    To feed this habit, we are constantly toting five-pound bags of grapefruit home from the supermarket. Grapefruit aren't always good: they can be dry, or too sour. Sometimes I buy one, test the batch, then later return for more. It takes effort.
    My wife doesn't eat grapefruit as much, but she will snack on oranges. Which is a novel practice to me. I would never, ever reach into the refrigerator, pull out an orange, and eat is as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Just not something I do.
     A few days ago, my wife cut up an orange and sat down at the kitchen table where I sat, reading the newspaper. She offered me an orange section. It was a perfect-looking orange, the perfect color, the surface glistening with juice, all without flaw.
     I accepted her offer, held the section to my mouth—as kids we'd tuck the skin behind our lips to make orange smiles, but I didn't do that. I bite it. The orange was very sweet, ripe, rich, wonderful.
     I wasn't about to take more sections. That would be poor thanks for her having offered me one. But now I was hungry, hungry for oranges, so I did something unusual. I went into the fridge, removed my own orange, and cut it into sections, of course offering her one to replace the one she had offered me. Nearly 30 years of marriage; manners are important.
      My wife observed that it was unusual to see me eating an orange. Usually I'm a grapefruit man.
      "I like it..." I mused. "It's sweet. It's like the best grapefruit ever." 
     My wife collapsed into laughter, declaring this the funniest thing I had ever said. I'm not sure why. I think it's the grapefruit-o-centric view of oranges, seeing them as a smaller, sweeter version of grapefruits. A naive, a sweetness itself perhaps. But anyway, she was laughing about it a day later, and I thought I would try to pass it along, knowing that I would almost inevitably fall short.


  1. That's pretty funny!
    There's a Thurberesque story hiding in there, somewhere.

  2. I think you had to be there, in the moment, but still the humor was offspring of your marriage. Pink grapefruit being sweetest but still nothing like an orange, an advantageous difference that explains your taste. The box of citrus my parents would send from Florida a cherished memory, sweet even without the coconut patties.

  3. I can't eat grapefruit due to taking cholesterol medication, and I miss it.

    That said, regarding what your wife found so funny, I guess you had to be there.

    1. Same here...for both the meds and the mirth.

      My wife used to buy those wonderful Texas-sized grapefruits (from Texas, natch)...and I would consume EVERYTHING inside the yellow outer shell and sometimes even the pink lining on the inside of it. I loved them THAT much. Now they are forbidden fruit...nyuk nyuk...and I miss them terribly.

      I miss drinking grapefruit juice even more, and also Squirt, which contains grapefruit juice. I sometimes mixed straight grapefruit juice with vodka, and also drank Squirt and vodka, which my wife thought was nuts. But as the mail carriers say--to each his zone.

    2. Funny, just today my pharmacist told me I shouldn't consume one of my meds (which I've taken for years) with grapefruit. Never been a fan, so not a sacrifice. But an odd confluence of events that it should occur today. I do have the occasional Fresca, though. I have to think there's too little actual grapefruit for me to worry...right?

    3. And Grizz, I've been known to combine cranberry juice, Fresca, and vodka.

  4. We often describe the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar: Elvis Costello calls a poem "a song without music;" Joe Biden famously referred to Barrack Obama as an "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy"(just like a white guy implied; a wine drinker complimenting a beer is likely to compare it to a fine robust wine. I think the incongruity of the comparisons is what makes them funny. Your readers are unlikely to be as amused as your wife, because to us there's little difference between an orange and a grapefruit. In fact, I understand that with a little judicious grafting, you can grow all the citrus fruits on one tree. If I ever move to California, I plan to try that, right after I plant all 6 seeds from an apple to see if that results in 6 difference varieties of apple, as Michael Pollan predicts.

  5. Yes, I'm sure you had to have been there. Possibly for 30 years.

    It brings to mind something E.B. White famously wrote: "Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies."


  6. I thought your wife laughed because your remark indicated that what you hope for in a grapefruit, taste-wise at least, is already routinely present in an orange.

    At the end of the day, please ask her if any of us hit close to the source of her amusement, or if it's too wrapped up in your relationship to translate.


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