From the Belle Tower | Personal-size watermelons a threat to society

June 13, 2014 

I don’t want to scare anyone but something is tearing at our social fabric and I’m not talking about tiny rebellious mice.

Social media replacing human contact? Sure, but that’s old news. We’ve come to accept as completely commonplace couples texting one another instead of talking even while on a date. Video games that are played all night instead of actually going out with friends? Yeah, that’s pretty sad, but still not what I have in mind.

No, no. I’m speaking of the worst thing I’ve seen yet in the ever-escalating war on interpersonal relationships and normal human interaction. I refer, of course, to the “personal-size watermelon.”

Yes! It’s everywhere. And it’s usually about 4 bucks of red-meated, green-striped clannishness guaranteed to drip its antisocial juices down your chin. It’s deceptively cute, portable enough to easily toss into your grocery cart. From there you can take it home and cut into it and … eat it all by yourself.

Half the charm of eating watermelon is sharing it with others. Apples? Peaches? Those are solitary fruits, meant for more introspective moments of consumption. Not so the watermelon. It’s the party girl of fruits. Can you imagine anything sadder than a personal melon filled with booze just for you? Always winning the seed-spitting contest because you’re the only one competing?

It’s crazy, if you ask me. Some things are meant to be communal no matter what. I know what you’re thinking but this isn’t the same as the “personal pizza.” Not by a long shot. For instance, I love anchovies. Nobody else in the family can stand them. So I get my very own pie adorned with hairy little fish filled with flavor and everybody’s happy.

But watermelons? They’re all the same and that’s part of the charm. You buy one at a roadside stand, or a farmers’ market, or even a sterile chain supermarket. Matters not. Because once it’s in your possession, you are going to lug it home and maybe chill it a bit before you spread out some old newspaper and call a few friends to help you eat it.

Personal-size watermelons? There are just some things that should always be shared with as many people as possible: kind words, homemade lasagna, John Hamm. And some things that should never be shared: toothbrushes, my armrests on the airplane, medical advice from Jenny McCarthy.

Years ago, when I worked for a small rural newspaper, I took pictures of oversized and oddly shaped produce like it was my job. Because, well, it was my job. Watermelons were very competitive as you might imagine. The big melon usually ended up on the front page of the paper if there wasn’t a Kiwanis meeting that week.

Many times, after the picture was taken and we were sure it was front page-worthy, we would use the office “birthday cake knife” to slice it up and share. Like the good Lord intended. Amen and pass the salt shaker.

CELIA RIVENBARK is the author of “Rude B****** Make Me Tired” and six other humor collections. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.

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