What’s a Mother to Do?
by Ann Edwards Cannon

Chapter 34
A Good Melon Is Hard to Find 

[p.106]If there’s one thing that makes my upper lip sweat for sure, it’s trying to pick out a decent watermelon at the grocery store.

My anxiety is caused by the fact that I have a truly terrible track record when it comes to selecting melons. Oh sure. The watermelon I choose at the store may look great hanging around the fruit bin with his buddies like a bunch of bachelors on the Dating Game. But when I get him home, I discover that he’s just another pretty face whose insides are made of mush, and before I know it I’m swearing I’ll never go out with a melon again.

I realize there must be a trick to picking the perfect melon. Every time I walk through the produce department at my favorite grocery store, I see plenty of intelligent-looking people fooling around with watermelons like they know what they’re doing. My own mother, who is one of the smartest women I know, likes to check for bee stings because she believes that a watermelon with bee stings will be extra sweet.

I don’t know. I realize that next to cows, bees are the world’s most stupid creatures, but I find it very hard to believe that they go around stinging watermelons all day long when they could be stinging people instead. Not even cows do that.

Instead of checking for bee stings, most people I’ve observed at the grocery store spend their time thumping watermelons. Some people thump politely, like they’re afraid they might disturb whomever’s inside. Other people thump away like they’ve got a court order to repossess stereos and television sets. I thump, too, whenever the people next to me start up. No use in standing out in a crowd, I always say. Only I have no idea what I’m suppose to be listening for. I guess I must have missed that day in nursery school when they taught us what sound a watermelon makes.

I’ve been in such a dither about selecting the perfect melon lately that I finally decided to see a fruit expert. I made an appointment to chat about my feelings with the friendly grocer who works [p.107]in a little market around the corner. Here is a verbatim transcript of our conversation.

GROCER: So! Your chart here says you’ve been worrying about watermelons lately. Is that true?

ME: Yes.

GROCER: I see. Do you want to talk about it?

ME [clutching the potato chip rack nervously]: I keep having this recurring nightmare that I go to the grocery store to buy a watermelon for the Cannon family reunion and—and I don’t know which one to choose! I see all of those watermelons just staring at me, and then suddenly I realize they’re staring at me because I’M NOT WEARING ANY CLOTHES, I’M STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF SMITH’S PRODUCE SECTION AND I’M TOTALLY NAKED! A-A-A-A-R-R-G-H!!! [Regaining my composure.] I think I need help.

GROCER: I see. Well that’s why I’m here. Any questions?

ME: Yes. What qualities do you look for in a melon?

GROCER: Intelligence, physical attractiveness, and a good sense of humor. Ha! Ha! But seriously now—

Well, if there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s a grocer who thinks he’s a comedian, and, as a rule, I don’t like grocers who think they’re therapists either.

The basic problem with watermelons, I’ve finally decided, is that you can’t see what you’re buying. They just aren’t packaged for the consumer’s convenience, so that’s why people have to resort to looking for bee stings and thumping and checking their horoscopes closely before making a final selection. In this way the process of choosing a watermelon closely resembles that of choosing a spouse—you really never know what you’re getting until you’ve gotten it.

After years of frustration, not to mention heartbreak, I’ve finally come up with a foolproof strategy for buying watermelon, and I’d like to pass it on to you. Here it is.

Ann’s Famous Rule of Thumb for Buying Watermelon

Buy any watermelon you damn well please.
Just make sure you’ve got your clothes on first.