Summer means I’ve got two pineapples ripening at all times, and usually one in the refrigerator as well. (Protip: you lose less juice cutting them up if they’re chilled at least overnight.) Yes, I fucking love pineapple just that much; always have.
Something about wandering around all day every day in an unwashed fog gets one thinking about the past, so today you’re getting a story from my childhood. Don’t worry, there’s also a Conversation—actually, let’s do the Conversation first. It’ll make less sense that way!
HIM: I have ows.
ME: Awww. Do you want some pineapple?
HIM: I do want some pineapple.
ME: Okay. There’s some in the fridge.
HIM: I’m gonna go have—
ME: You can have a little.
HIM: Well yeah. I can’t eat all the pineapple or I’ll have more ows.
ME: You can have 5 pieces.
HIM: I’m gonna have… 10 pieces.
ME: You can have 5 pieces.
HIM: I’m gonna have 12 pieces.
ME: You can have 3 pieces.
HIM: I’m gonna have 10 pieces.
ME: You can have 1 piece.
HIM: … I’m gonna have 5 pieces.
Astute readers will have caught Husband’s adorable assertion that if he eats all the pineapple he will be in greater-than-normal/fibro pain and might assume he was referring to the hurt I’d put on anyone who ate all my pineapple. The truly brilliant discarded that theory, recalling the aforementioned backup pineapples—I’m not running out anytime soon. No, Husband was referring to this story, which I’ve been called upon to tell multiple times in the last month.
One of the first summers I spent with Dad and Marsha—not the first, I think, because I don’t remember being uncomfortably hot*—we stopped in a grocery store and I pointed out they had pineapples on offer. Two for one or something like that. I pointed out the price and suggested we get some pineapple.
My father looked at the pile of pineapples, then at teeny itty bitty me and, with all the authority of fathers and Marines everywhere, announced that—as I could not possibly eat two pineapples before they went off—we would not be getting pineapple today.
“Yes I can.”
Looking back, I can see what actually went on inside that man was an epic battle between his innate desire to Never Waste Food and his absolute need to be Right and Respected by one and all. But the pineapples were on the cheap, so the cost of having something to hold over my head anytime I got too big for my britches would likely never be this low again.
The pineapples went into the cart.
The next day, I sat at our little table and set to butchering my first pineapple. This was truly an experimental process: I more or less just hacked into the thing and started biting away at bits that looked vaguely edible. The core, I discovered, took a lot of chewing—I was gnawing on a chunk of it when Marsha found me and yelped in alarm. Apparently you’re not meant to eat that part? She then sat and watched, fascinated, as I dismantled the thing, pausing to take sips of orange juice—
Yes, orange juice. Yes, she tried to stop me. I was on a mission, dammit!
Anyway, I eventually got the first one down. And I felt my technique was sufficiently improved to the point where the second one would present much less of a challenge, so I got up to fetch it from the kitchen.**
“You’re going to give yourself an ulcer,” she predicted.
“That’s what Mom told Dad about eating all those pickled jalapenos. Never stopped him—actually, it just made him drink the juice in front of her.”
“Yup,” I enthused, trotting back with my prize, “he woke her up that night ‘cuz he was vomiting blood and thought that might be a problem. Hand me the knife? My hands are slippery.”
And so on. I basically quartered the second one, pulled out the core, and chomped away like it was a gat dam watermelon. Which, in case you’re wondering, is actually the fastest way to dispose of a pineapple—not that I recommend it.
The next day, predictably, my mouth was basically full of the blisters that grow on top of other blisters. My face was a raw mess, because I’d bathed it in acid while I was going down on pineapple like a fucking savage.
Marsha still couldn’t keep me from the orange juice, though it made me whimper.
When he saw the state of me, how I could barely open my mouth and putting anything in there was agony, my father stood tall above me and asked if I’d learned anything.
“Yes,” I replied, honestly.
He nodded, pleased that his lesson had been salvaged.
“I learned I can eat two pineapples in one sitting.”
* My mother, brilliant creature that she was, had packed my suitcase. Apparently what a child really needs to survive a summer in San Diego is several bulky sweatshirts, jeans, and thick socks. Oh, and more pajamas than clothes. Dad took me shopping for a few things but we could only do so much since my suitcase was already overstuffed; he feared sending me back without the original items or with them unworn, since she’d previously denied him court-ordered visitation on the grounds that I’d returned from the last visit “unwashed and wearing the same clothes (I) left in.” So because the adults couldn’t fucking adult, I sweated. A lot.
** Please note this was not part of the challenge. I was only required to eat them before they went off. A clever person would have waited a few days. Or portioned them out and put them in the fridge, to snack a bit each day. I was not a clever person—I was a stubborn idiot.