Cumberland Times-News

August 25, 2007

Watermelon accidents happen mostly at home

Jim Goldsworthy, Columnist

I’ve been wondering when the Golden Years start. My father used to say, “Golden Years, my (beast of burden),” and so far as I can tell, he had a good handle on it.

One of the cruelest ironies that comes with getting older is that even though your stomach appears to get bigger, it might actually hold less food than it once did.

A co-worker and I were discussing an Italian restaurant that has excellent pizza. This pizza is delicious, and you can pick up a slice, fold it in half lengthwise and eat it like they do in New York.

“My wife and I had one the other night,” he said, “and I could only eat two pieces. The rest we had to take home.”

I told him that if I push it, I can eat three. Then I don’t do much the rest of the evening. However, this pizza refrigerates well, and when you nuke it the next day it’s just as good as it was the night before.

Recently, I had chicken fingers and French fries at another restaurant and, to my considerable dismay, was unable to finish them.

However, I’m trying not to eat as much these days, so maybe my stomach has shrunk a bit ... on the inside, at least. My annual physical is coming up, and I keep in mind something else Dad used to say, which is that, “You ought to stay away from the damn doctors. They’ll just tell you something you don’t want to hear.”

I’ve been eating more fruit and vegetables and feel better physically. A lady I know is doing the same, but recently had what can best be described as a “watermelon accident.” And it had nothing to do with what supposedly happens when a woman swallows the seeds.

As a mutual friend tells the story, she bought the watermelon, took it home, put it on the kitchen counter and then went out for a while. Upon her return, she found that the watermelon had, to all appearances, exploded.

Exploded?

“Exploded,” my friend said. “She went into the kitchen and there was water all over the floor. There was a big chunk out of the watermelon and nothing left in it but the rind. Pieces of watermelon had flown all over the place, and she told me it took three hours to clean up.”

The lady had followed all of the proper procedures. She selected the watermelon because it looked good, and then she picked it up, hefted it, sniffed it and thumped it ... did everything but kick its tires ... before taking it home, only to have it blow up.

Lee Ermey, the ex-Marine gunnery sergeant who hosts TV’s “Mail Call,” likes to annihilate watermelons with everything from crossbows to .50-caliber machine guns, but he couldn’t have been involved. If you were to ask Gunny Ermey, he’d probably say that, “You should handle all five-second watermelons like they have three-second fuses.”

I searched the Internet, but was unable to find a case in which a watermelon had detonated spontaneously without help from such outside agencies as a firecracker or a .300 Weatherby Magnum, or after being filled with liquid nitrogen or some gas-producing chemical compound.

Speaking of gas-producing chemical compounds, I plan to tell our unfortunate friend when I next see her that, all things considered, it probably was a good thing the watermelon went off before she ate it.

The gastrointestinal consequences of consuming live-ordnance watermelon would have manifested themselves suddenly and in spectacular fashion, and could have seriously impacted her social standing — particularly if people were hit by shrapnel .

Another friend has been on a self-imposed diet that requires him to eat a lot of fruit. As he describes it, you start by eating your apples, bananas and oranges just as they come from the market. After a few weeks of this have passed, you put the fruit in the freezer and eat it cold for a spell. The next stage is taking the fruit and slicing it.

“The idea,” he said, “is that you keep changing the form, and this keeps you from getting tired of it.”

I told him the most likely result is that after he’s gone through the cycle a couple of times, he’ll want to deep-fry everything he eats.

Then he began to talk about an egg sandwich his wife recently fixed him for breakfast.

“It was the first egg sandwich I’ve had in three weeks,” he said. “It may have been the best egg sandwich I ever had, and I ate it slowly. I took tiny little bites and chewed each bite a hundred times, just to make it last, because I didn’t know when I was going to get another one.”

Another fellow interjected that if his wife would let him, he’d eat eggs at every meal. He loves eggs. I agreed, and so did another guy, who said he actually likes his egg sandwiches with the yolk left intact and a bit runny.

It was then that the first man’s wife said she had removed the yolk from her husband’s egg sandwich and mixed a bit of mustard in with the white to give it some taste and color.

“There was no yolk in my egg sandwich?” the guy asked her, his face absolutely blank. “You took the yolk out of the egg in my egg sandwich? I loved that egg sandwich, and now you tell me there was no yolk in it?

“You know that dinner I’m going to, tomorrow?” he went on. “They’re going to give me a steak. I’ve paid for that steak, and I’m going to eat every bite of it. I’m going to put sour cream on my baked potato and eat every bite of that, too.”

I didn’t have the heart to ask my friend why it made any difference what his wife had put in it, if it was indeed the best egg sandwich he’d ever had. The next time I make an egg sandwich, I’ll add a little mustard.

I will, however, leave the yolk in it.

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The friend I told you about last week has had a successful surgery, and the outlook is hopeful. Thank you for your prayers, and please keep them coming because he and his family still have a tough haul ahead of them.