Everything's Coming Up Rosen

Emily’s been writing a column, essays, travel stories, profiles, features for over 20 years. Her work is available for syndication and reprint.

THE PEACH THING

March 2020

Here’s the thing about peaches. They are either ambrosia or blah mush. Here’s the thing about me. I am generally unflappable — hardly ever angry, and mostly accepting of what flies across my life. And here’s the thing about this weekend:

My son and daughter in law  were coming for a rare visit from North Carolina – a one night dinner at my house. I shopped the day before, accumulating ingredients for my planned menu, and of course my dessert which always included a hand-designed platter of luscious seasonal fruit. Aha! there in its special corner were gorgeous looking peaches. I plucked one (we were to have been 4  people and I already had the other fruit species in my cart ) checked out, reviewed my receipt for no reason – noted that the peach cost $1.65 and went on about my life.

The next day- after preparation for dinner, I rolled up my sleeves about to create a mouth watering fruit plate, placed each item in its artistic and colorfully appropriate position, leaving space to highlight  Queen Peach. I cut it lengthwise, removed the pit, began to slice it to just the right configuration, and thrust one slice into my mouth. OMG! This can’t be happening! Mush. Mush. Mush – blah blah blah.

I allowed it to remain on the platter as it looked very appealing and I didn’t want to undo my carefully conceived creation. Fast forward to dinner-is-over and the fruit is placed on the table. I forewarned  the kids about the peaches. They didn’t believe me until each tasted one slice, the contents of the rest of the plate was devoured. The peaches remained, and when I was alone, I placed them in a plastic baggie without any real plan for them.

In the morning, I retrieved the baggie from the fridge and a slow sleething – I won’t call it rage — but kind of a third cousin to it — overtook me. We have a government of corruption, the virus is overtaking us, the stock market is in the mud, the construction workman in my community had accidentally  broken my bedroom window and in the process, had ruined my blinds, one of my best friends had just died suddenly, another is terminally ill, my pacemaker needs a new battery, and I need hearing aids, and damn it — I had paid $1.65 for a rotten peach.  Where was the justice in this world?

So I took my baggie of peaches and my receipt straight to Publix and asked for the manager. The pleasant customer service lady asked, “Do you want to return something? I’d be happy to help.”  “No,– well yes, but…”   I assured her that I needed something more than my money back and only the manager could help me.”What are you returning?” She asked in her best customer-service voice. Defensively, I told her, “A cut-up peach” “Oh,” she said soothingly,   “then I’ll get the produce manager.”

Robert appeared in a second and I whined to him about how I would never think of returning a peach or getting $1.65 back – but it was outrageous under my stressful (???) circumstance that I should have to deal with a mushy peach.

Calmly, he walked me over to the peach section – apologized, assured me that no one had returned any of the peaches in this batch before, fingered a few of them, acknowledged that, indeed they might had been there too long and could quite possibly be mushy. Deftly he removed them,  fondled a few more  and grabbed 3 healthy looking ones and invited me to watch him cut them and offered me a taste.

Ambrosia!

He placed them all in a see-through plastic box, and  labeled it “No charge.” I thanked him profusely and thrust the baggie with the bad peaches into his hand. He laughed and rethrust them into the nearest garbage pail, and I walked back into my yellow car with a spritely step remembering that daylight savings time has finally arrived, and recognizing that life can be beautiful. And in this case, peaches make it so.