Friday, November 16, 2007

eating a pear

as i was riding a njt train home last tuesday, i saw a woman with a loud french manicure (the white was too white, the flesh color, too fleshy) reach into a shopping bag and pull out a pear. my first thought was, "that pear is most certainly not washed" and my next thought was, "i hope it's organic." the woman, holding the pear in textbook fashion (thumb near stem, index finger on the bulging bottom) took a big bite out the pear's pulpy girth. that's when i noticed there was a little plastic sticker on the backside of the pear (the side that I could see) near the stem. had she seen the sticker and simply decided not to remove it? maybe she was concerned about the skin of the pear getting under her nails. i suddenly had the urge to say something, but that would have required quite a bit of maneuvering. i was standing in the aisle and there were 3 people standing between me and the woman, who was sitting in one of those seats at the end of a train that faces backwards towards all of the other seats. i thought about calling out to her, "excuse me, miss, there's a sticker on the back of your pear," but then i thought that sounded ridiculous, and, so what if she eats the sticker? if she does, she'll probably detect it's presence when it lodges in her teeth and pull it out with those long nails. so i just sat there and watched her as there was nothing else to do and she was engrossed in a tom clancy novel anyway. she continued to take big bites out of the pear's center, rotating it slightly after each chomp. when she'd completed disemboweling the pear, she was left with the stem and the two umbrella ends. i thought to myself, if she goes for the end at the bottom of the pear, then she probably knows that there's a sticker near the stem. i was satisfied when twisted that end towards her mouth and started nibbling it as she rotated. all this time her efforts were automatic and her eyes never left the book. a real pear-eating pro. i never feel that secure when i eat a piece of fruit--you never know when you'll bite into a worm hole or a mushy bruise. after she finished that end, i thought ok, now she's going to toss the stem and the other end because it has a sticker on it. but, no, she started working the other end, and it really seemed like she was deliberately avoiding the sticker, so much so that i chided myself for having been sucked into this whole scene. she knew the sticker was there all along! i could have been amusing myself by looking at the newark skyline or reading messages on my neighbor's blackberry. as i was berating myself, i had turned away from the woman, but now i looked back and she had eaten the entire pear except for the area around the sticker. i was sure she was finished and would toss what was left in her bag, but then she opened her mouth wide and bit off the last section sticker and all. i stifled a gleeful giggle in my scarf as i watched her chew away, at first normally, then more slowly as she realized something was not right. suddenly she stopped chewing--she was clearly biting down on the sticker--swallowed the masticated pear, and then reached into the shopping bag for a napkin. she placed the stem in the napkin and then swiftly and discreetly fished the sticker out of her mouth, placing it beside the stem. she quickly folded the napkin over and then wadded it up. at that point, she glanced up and our eyes met. could she tell that I had witnessed everything? that i knew she ate unwashed fruit without even removing the sticker first? i wilted under her gaze and quickly looked away. she resumed her reading. i couldn't help smiling though. for a brief moment, the pear-eating woman made me feel like the world was a magical place.