While I waited for my honeydew, I surreptitiously observed how my neighbor ate his melon. Not with a spoon as I had always eaten them before, but with a knife and fork. First, he removed the fruit whole from the rind in one long, under cut. Next, he made an incision, lengthwise all along the middle, then bisected the two narrow halves into smaller, bite-sized sections. It waited in place upon the rind looking untouched, just as the butcher’s at William’s Poultry on Broadway at 86th pre-sliced their roasted turkey’s, reassembling them to look whole. I wanted my life to feel whole, from all its separate little pieces. My melon arrived on its pristine white plate. I picked up my silvery knife and fork and addressed it with enthusiastic dash. The last thing I wanted was to appear unsure. I began by cutting.
I put down my utensils and sat back with folded arms to admire my first maneuver. The newly freed wedge began to move, so imperceptibly I thought it was an illusion. I had sliced it at such an angle that gravity, aided by the natural lubrication from its juice, sent it on a determined slide from its rind. I was hypnotized. Even if I could have reacted in time and lanced it with my fork or made any attempt to arrest its progress, there would be a catastrophe. The plate would rear up and clatter back on the marble surface, perhaps breaking, the melon would fly off and slap onto the polished floor, or worse, crash amid the stacks of crystal glassware behind the counter. In the agonizing slow motion in which our minds see such moments, my fruit-boat launched off the plate and accelerated on a voyage across the counter top, lagged like a curling stone, and kissed the gentleman’s elbow.
I retrieved my melon with fork and bare hand, apologizing for the damp spot on the sleeve of his crisp, French blue shirt. Awkwardly, I put it back on the plate, as if landing a fish, careful to avoid the rind, lest the wedge take flight again. This was a challenge. There was little room left on the plate, and I had to keep it pinned while I used the knife to render it into lifeless, mangled pieces. Erika and I were unable to restrain our hysterics. The gentleman and his friend paid and left. We finished quickly and did the same.