What topic could be better than watermelon heading into the summer? But let me say, right off the bat, that I do not actually know how to buy a watermelon. I don’t. This post is about my various attempts, nearly all of them unsuccessful. I know how to pay for a watermelon, certainly. I just can’t pick a ripe one for the life of me. And I love watermelon. I can polish off a smaller one in one sitting. So, you see my dilemma. I live in torment from June to September surrounded, as I am, by these bulbous pods taunting me to find the right one.
In pursuit of the “right one,” I have followed the advice of grocers, gardeners, botanists, old-timers, grandmas, produce managers, food distributors, and the Mexican woman who drives the Mister Softee ice cream truck (they have a watermelon popsicle). They advised me to look for the yellow patch, the stripes, the color, the sound a melon makes when thumped, the texture of its skin, its weight, and even how it spins when placed on the floor.
Such is my obsession that I tried it all, slicing into each new rind with the excitement of a dog chasing a ball on the beach only to discover mush or fruit so unripe that it tasted tart. In the end, I did what any self-respecting, watermelon lover would do. I consulted the modern-day Delphic oracle: YouTube. There, the social media gods told me to thump and listen. So I did, pressing my ear to the cool, gritty skin, not caring at all what I looked like in the store. After all, they had seen me earlier spin a watermelon like an egg. How much worse could it get?
Swing and a miss, strike three.
If I am anything, I am a reasonable man. I try to do reasonable things. So, I decided to reason with the watermelons. As they huddled like bowling balls in a cardboard bin at the store, I explained that I had given up. My technical know-how and prowess were no match for their brute, vegetative strength. I pleaded for mercy. Then I closed my eyes and ran my hand over the pile until I came to one that felt smooth and tight. I brought it home. It wasn’t half bad. Thus, my braille approach proved as good as any other, and I didn’t have to sniff, thump, or spin anything.
The moral? Prepare as we might and struggle as hard as we can, the fact remains that we have little control over life. This truth is as unmovable and unmoved as a watermelon. That is not to say that we should take whatever comes our way in dumb submission. After all, there is evil in the world and we must do our part to dispel it with grace and reason. But even those are beyond our control. Grace comes from God and reason is often messy if not illusive. So, we do our part and then let go. Sure, “our part” may be substantial when designing rocket boosters or artificial heart valves, but even in those cases how much control do we really have?
I saw a Twitter post the other day that gave the following advice: “Show up, pay attention, tell the truth, and don’t get attached to the results.” I don’t think my theology professor in graduate school could have said it any better.
So, how do you buy a watermelon? You take it to the check-out counter and pay for it, that’s how.