I was cutting up some watermelon this afternoon when a thought struck me:
My children will never know watermelons with seeds.
Real seeds. The kind from watermelons in the past – those slimy black discs we expertly avoided, spat to the ground, or perhaps even feared would sprout if swallowed. Future generations will never have to deal with any of this now that watermelon “seeds” are simply translucent, edible nothings.
This change undoubtedly improves one’s watermelon-eating experience, but I got a little sad as I was cubing my wedges. Not exactly in a “kids these days” way, but more because watermelon seeds remind me of my Grandpa.
Every summer we’d make the drive from Tennessee to Iowa to visit family, and a typical late summer dinner consisted entirely of corn from the fields and watermelon. Grandpa would painstakingly cut the melon and deseed each piece, leaving us with a bowl of perfectly edible fruit.
You have to understand, though, Grandpa isn’t what I’d call cuddly or easy going. In an earlier post, I characterized him as “a gruff, grizzly sort of man with a voice and cadence straight out of his favorite Westerns.” He smokes more than ever now, even though he’s been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. He can be cruel and petty, with a ruthless sense of humor. His irascibility is at times off putting.
Yet, he openly wept when my sister – his first grandchild – got married. He used to make us squeal with a mixture of delight and terror by clacking his dentures together and showing us his gums. For years, those dentures spent their nights floating in a glass of water in the living room, next to his ashtray and remote control. I’m sure he got a kick out of watching us react to their ghoulish bobbing. When my Grandma died, he got a small, fluffy, white dog, and those two spend their days watching golf or Westerns. Whenever we Skype, Toby sits next to him in the recliner.
Grandpa is a strange bird, a man from another generation really. He’s at once bullyingly masculine and selflessly affectionate. Picking out all the seeds from a bowl full of watermelon is just one of the ways this prickly man shows his affection. And so I’m sad that watermelons these days don’t have seeds, even if eating them is much easier.