Saturday, March 7, 2020

SOL20 Slice #7: Avocado

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOL20).  
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2020.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

A young colleague asked me,

How do you know an avocado is ripe? I had my first one at our lunch the other day, and I liked it so much, I want to buy some. But, I realized I don’t know how to tell whether one is ripe or not.

I can totally relate.

Throughout my childhood, avocado was simply a color - the color of our kitchen appliances. Yes, it was the 1970s, and avocado-green kitchens were the rage. Truly,  I did not know it as food. My family's diet was very simple, bland, and predictable: meat and potatoes. Our most gourmet food came from a can (think, brown bread). 

Summer of 1980, I came to Washington, D.C. as a college intern. I lived in special housing for interns, and, for the first time ever, I met people from all over the United States. I remember one day I was headed to the grocery store and a fellow intern asked me to pick up two avocados for him. He was from California. He was the first vegetarian I had ever met. He was cool. I was 20, and not about to look ignorant. I said, “Sure.” Off I went to the store and found the avocados in the vegetable section. I stood in front of these green-brown, wrinkled, oblong fruits, and stared. Then, I picked a few up, holding them one by one. Some squished a bit when I touched them. Others were super hard. Were they supposed to be soft, like a banana? Or were they supposed to be hard like an apple? I felt one that was so squishy it cracked and leaked, and I thought that was really gross. Hmm. Which was the ripe avocado? I decided to approach the problem mathematically – which did the store have more of, hard or soft? That would be my answer. I picked up every avocado in the bin, and the great majority were hard.

I bought him the hardest avocado in the bin.

He was so annoyed. He angrily explained that it would be days before that avocado was ripe enough to eat, and he had been hoping to have some with his dinner that night. I remember how embarrassed I felt - I think I flushed red from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head. 

That was an early lesson about asking questions. Ask away - they do not make you look stupid. I had so many opportunities to ask about avocados (Mr. California, the grocer, another intern perhaps?), but I had stayed stubbornly, proudly, wrapped up in my own head, convinced I knew or could figure it out. 

I'm pretty impressed with my colleague, asking to know.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, “ Ask away - they do not make you look stupid.” Live this comment about questions, but I’m also a bit angry w/ your college friend who should have thanked you for doing him a favor.