“And the woman actually asked me if the almonds had come in contact with peanuts. Not on my watch, I assured her. But I can’t vouch for who they fraternize with outside of the bakery…” No response. “Another individual grilled me about the strawberries; ‘Are you sure the berries in my Great Grandmother’s lavender buttercream birthday cake will be ripe?’ Who am I? The Fruit Whisperer?”
Without looking up, the houseguest nods as I continue. “Would you like an apple for the train? Granny Smith or Braeburn? Probably cold storage this time of year.” She assures me Granny Smith is fine. I hand her the blindingly green apple, advising her it’s probably not as tart nor crisp as it would be In Season and she tucks it into her handbag. “Wait a minute- you should take a few of these cherries. Rainier. From Yakima, Washington, not too far from Aunt B.” Poking my head in the fridge, I wonder if she would like a few fresh apricots. She doesn’t respond because she can’t hear what I’m saying. “Well, would you? They’re just right- a little sweet, a little tart. And perfect in a pie, with the cherries." I continue that they’re small and won’t take up any space in her bag. She hates to carry anything back on the train that doesn’t fit in her bag. “Yes to the apricots?”
The top of her curly blond head finally looks up from the Frank Langella biography and she remarks somewhat sarcastically, “I suppose you are going to tell me the apricots are from Rancho Cucamonga, and you toured there in the 80s?” I pause. “What is it you are trying to say?” I ask tossing the yellow/blush pink cherries in a paper bag.
“You have this thing you do. I think of it as your Faux Fruit Travels.” Grabbing my attention, I urge her to continue. “Actually, there are two things that you do. One, is you have a habit of speaking directly into the refrigerator when you are talking to someone in another room. Then you are crestfallen when they don’t respond to what you are saying. Secondly, and more critical, is you have become a Fruit Oversharer.”
I need to know if this is literal or figurative? “Actually, it’s both. It’s literal in the sense that you feel the need to send me off with a veritable fruit bowl even though my train journey is a mere 35 minutes.” I’m rethinking the cherries, setting the paper bag down on the counter. “Then there’s the way you identify every piece of fruit you come in contact with. You tell me from where it hails, you tell me if it is in season, what it should taste like, what it should be teamed with in a pie shell, and then you bring it all home by insisting you have been to/driven through/or worked in the locale of said fruit. It’s not only Fruit Oversharing, it’s not normal.”
Clearly this is an issue that deserves exploration, but blissfully Blondi-locks has a train to catch. “So is that a yes or a no to the cherries?” I take no response as a yes and tuck them into her bag, but leave the California apricots behind.
We wait on the platform with a few others returning to the megalopolis, several of them toting brown paper bags emblazoned with the words Trader Joe's. “See? You’re not the only one carrying a few items back into the city. And you didn’t even need a shopping bag.” She ignores me, then hugs me goodbye as the train pulls in. I watch and wait, scanning the NJ Transit car she boards so I can perform my famous Titanic wave and kiss. I spot her in the window and as the train pulls out, I’m waving and waving until my phone vibrates. It’s my traveler asking me who on earth I am waving to. “You, of course” I reply. She texts back, “That wasn’t me…”
There is a couple standing on the platform within earshot and as we walk to our cars, the mother says to me, “Til they come home again...” and I’m sort of listening and sort of wondering if I should give up on the traveling fruit bowl. Maybe I am a Fruit Oversharer. Just maybe, the banana earrings were a bit much.