Brenda J. Lemley

Avocado Innocence

Brenda J. Lemley

While listening to the endless shoppers coming and going, picking up his friends above him and putting them back when they didn’t suit that particular human’s ripeness qualifications or putting him or her into the stifling bag (torturous though it may be to travel in, it is quite an exciting trip knowing your future career lies ahead), the harmless avocado thought of nothing but its tasty purpose. Waiting patiently, he contemplated the dishes he might enhance as his career: as guacamole—chips, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, even quesadillas in some instances, and the ever array of standard Mexican fare to delight a human’s palette; as just him and him alone there were a vast number of creations humans used plain avocado for—for fresh salads, a lemon chicken breast topping mixed with a simple herb like cilantro, on baked potatoes instead of the ever popular sour cream and cheese, and even beating out certain popular toppings on hamburgers. Oh yes, he loved the idea of beating out the traditional favorites! What pleasure it would be to top out all the usuals and become that one unique item that none can ignore, that makes the dish more than the dish itself!

He sat listening for a while, sitting under the crates of avocados above him, wondering exactly how many rows there were of others being chosen before him, how many opportunities he would miss by being so far down in the picking line. Even when he was still on the tree, it seemed so many others were chosen before him. Finally, after what seemed like days, maybe even weeks, he saw a crack of light through the box above him. They were getting closer to the bottom! Every once in a while though, throughout the day the light would disappear as human after human came along and shifted the above avocados around, discouraging him from his hope of being selected.

He sat frustrated as night came and all light and sound vanished but the low hum from the night janitor waxing the floors with his strange machine. All this he knows despite being so far on the bottom of the stack of avocados because, as we all know, avocados like to chat and talk when no humans are around. The upper groups let the lower ones know what’s what up in the human world, about the sites and smells coming from the bakery nearby and the other vegetables and fruits in the area. Oh, how he longed to be on the top, to be one who got to tell the stories of what he saw!

That night he dreamed his crate was brought up to the top of the stack, sitting directly in the middle on top of the other top crates; his crate alone the top most of all crates, the one the humans would look to first. He dreamed himself being selected almost immediately since he was still firm yet with a subtle softness and hadn’t been overly squeezed to the point of potential bruising. The human cared for him like no other avocado had been treated before—no bag for him, no indeed. This human took him in his hands gently and carried him through checkout personally, cradled him in those large and gentle yet rough human hands. In his dream, he is placed on a beautiful windowsill next to a ripening tomato. The two would chat and reminisce about the old days in the grocery store or on the vine and tree, how far they travelled from their birthplaces. He would proudly claim Mexico while the tomato would sadly say California and in a greenhouse no less. They would chat about what was to come for each of them—would it be together or separate? And then the big day would come when he would be picked up off the sill, all ripe and tender to the touch. The fateful human would pull out the very best of all knives, not a rough serrated edged one that would rip and shred his lovely out skin up but a smooth edged and sweetly sharp paring knife that glistened in the sun. To his delight he would be made into an Indonesian-style avocado milkshake—a very unique and avocado focused creation, to be joined only by some chocolate syrup and milk, maybe a cherry or cream on top. He would be the focus of all taste buds! Well, except for maybe the chocolate. It is hard to compete with chocolate. But he would be willing to give up some fame to chocolate because it would still be his name the humans would claim for the overall flavor, his name that would spill from their lips when they delighted the creator with words of gratitude for the tasty avocado drink, telling him what a perfect avocado he had selected for it. “And what kind of avocado is this?” They would ask. And the man would reply, “Why Hass, of course.” Oh, how he would be ecstatic to hear those words coming from some human about him!

Suddenly, he awoke to hustle and bustle of carts being pushed around nearby. He yawned and thought What a lovely dream. He continued to wait, with thoughts of the dream keeping his spirits alive. Many hands touching the ones above him all morning when he overheard someone say, “There are firmer ones I think underneath the upper crates if you are looking for something less soft.”

“Yes, thank you. I am,” a soft voice replied. The avocado’s heart, or pit, leapt with joy inside him as the crate above him was lifted up letting all the outer light shine down onto him. Squinting, he looked up to see a dark haired woman pleasantly smiling at her newfound selection of avocados. He heard all the others around exclaim with delight Pick me! Pick me! I’m super ripe, perfect for a meal tonight! He decidedly kept quiet, thinking how foolish they were to holler and try to tempt this human. He knew perfectly well she would not be listening, humans seldom ever heard the voices of the food they so enjoyed—but he has heard stories of random instances. These thoughts left him quickly as he was touched by her hands, which were soft and gentle just like her voice. She had picked him up and was gently checking his firmness. He began shaking with anticipation that his dream might be coming true! But fortune did not appear to be on his side as she placed him back in the crate with the others and began to feel around some more. He puffed in disappointment near to tears when he saw her hand coming back to him. Beginning to get excited once again, he realized she forgot she had already checked him and was not happy with what she found. So he waited unenthusiastically for her to go through the motions once again only to put him back. Except she didn’t squeeze him at all! She picked him up, looked at him, smiled, and put him inside the bag with 4 others! He had been selected!! It wasn’t exactly his dream but he had been chosen first out of his crate! What joy, what utter joy did he feel at that moment!

He crooned and hollered and chatted up a storm with his fellow avocados, who had also been selected by this gentle human. They too were anxious in anticipation of their upcoming careers. What would they all become? They each shared their dreams of what they desired most to become. He shared his dream from the night before. They all laughed but admitted it sounded wonderful. They were all softer than him except one other who was still quite hard. They did not expect to be on any windowsill long, perhaps their destinies would reveal themselves that day or night. He knew he would be around a little longer to enjoy his surroundings. He tried to imagine what this kitchen would be like that he heard so much about from the others. It was always so vague since none of them had ever been to one; it was only hearsay really, from what they got out of listening to the humans gabbing nearby as they shopped.

His mind drifted once again into the land of his imaginings for a length when he realized they had arrived to wherever it is they were to call home from here forth. He and his friends were being elevated out of the large brown bag they had been placed in at checkout and carried toward some tall boxy looking thing. It was difficult to tell through the initial bag they had been placed in after being selected. Although it was clear, it was still filmy and tinted green making observing your surroundings difficult. He could not wait to get out of the bag! The others began to moan in disappointment. What? What’s wrong? He frantically asked them. We are headed toward the fridge, one of the others replied. The fridge! Oh no! Not the fridge! He new little of it, but he did know is that it was not anything like the windowsill. There was no sun. Nothing to look at but other food, much like the grocery store and only that when the light turned on inside, which was rare. They were squished into a boxed drawer inside the fridge thing next to some vegetables who only humphed when he tried to greet them with a hearty Hello! I’m a Hass avocado! Who are you all? The others just laughed and went to sleep to await their careers.

He sat wondering what will happen, wondering how much longer he would have to wait in the dark again. He missed the days of sunlight, the carefree life of growing on the tree. The chatter with the birds and worms. The deep conversations the trees would tangle with the spiders. He began to get miffed about his situation. His anger and frustration festered further when the one of them who was harder than all the rest was pulled out, knowing that he was going to the windowsill. Why am I not going to0? I am nearly as firm, he pondered angrily. The other three snoozed away while he growled at the vegetables who whispered and looked at him then laughed and tittered, quickly looking away when they realized he was looking at them too. Suddenly the fridge opened, then their drawer! Was it now? Did she change her mind about me like at the store? Alas, no. She reached in and pulled out the other three, leaving him alone with the snickering vegetables. He hated this. This was nothing like his dream anymore. He wanted out. To start his career. To be something. Not this endless waiting. This endless darkness.

Days went by and nothing. Some vegetables came and went while he sat trying to ignore their snide comments, though they were never to his face, no. Only whispers behind his back, but he knew they were about him. Oh, he knew. Despite being in the fridge, he did begin to ripen little by little. Only it was not just his meat that ripened. Anger and frustration, disappointment and torment swelled in his pit. Until at last, his human pulled him out of the bag and placed him on her cutting board. It was only moments before he saw what was headed toward him to cut him open: a serrated and slightly beat up knife. No! He cried out. She cut him in half long ways, diced up the pitless side, and scooped out the chunks into a bowl. He was huffing away trying to calm himself; after all, he was finally beginning his career. Only he didn’t know for what. While she emptied his other half, he looked around quickly for signs of his future. And there it was, a bag of chips. Behind this were sour cream, salsa, and shredded cheese. He was going to be mixed for a dip. Not even a traditional guacamole dip, but some blend with other strong flavors. He was mortified by what his life would end up becoming. There were no other humans around to stop her and tell her to make a tasty milkshake with this avocado instead or something that would give the glory to the avocado. There weren’t any others around to even share in the flavor of this avocado, no. Just this one human. He grrred and growled the way avocados do. She came at him with the knife to stab out the pit. As this happened he tried to calm himself. Perhaps he would be helpful and pop himself loose for her, making it easier to get his pit out. As she was about to hit his pit with the knife, holding him firmly in her left hand, he popped his pit causing the knife to slide off the pit, into the meat of the avocado, and then finally into the meat of her own little pinky—from one side of it to the other. The avocado looked up in amazement and shock at what had just happened. He cried out It was an accident! I swear! I didn’t meant to… But then as the blood from her pinky she was holding tightly dripped onto the floor, the avocado felt a smile emerge on his face and could not help but snicker a little. Suddenly, she looked at him as if she heard him and picked him up and tossed him into the compost.