We found ourselves in Wichita last night, where we did some last-minute grocery shopping. My wife and I are southerners, and thus no Fourth of July can be celebrated on our property without watermelon. As we wandered through the wide produce section of the fancy Dillons, I spied this abomination: “Personal Watermelons.”
Apparently some farmer who has not read Wendell Berry thought it would make sense to raise miniature watermelons. It’s not enough that most homes in America now have a television for each member of the household, or that children have cell phones, or that when I register my eight year-old for the Lego Club, they expect him to have his own email address. Now we are going to have our own personal watermelons.
This is simply wrong. The watermelon is a communal fruit. It is meant to be grown with seeds, and shared by a whole passel of people, who in between taking bites spit the seeds at one another. It’s not a proper celebration if your little brother doesn’t go to bed with a watermelon seed stuck in his hair because you quietly spit it there.
But now I suppose people will take their personal watermelons from the faux antique washtub filled with chipped ice, daintily spear a boneless filet of tasteless chicken from the shiny gas grill, and then retire to their separate rooms to watch whatever pleases them on Blu-Ray disks while emailing people who haven’t known them nearly as long as the family members they are too good to share a big watermelon with.
Is this what our nation’s Founders shot all those Limeys for?