By Christian Westerman
Anyone can go to the supermarket and buy it by the pound, then run home with heavy arms and eat it all by the afternoon. It seems that everyone I know has had a chance at some honeydew, except for me. It should have happened by now. Whenever I imagine what its select flavors must be like, all I get is the noise my tongue makes when it sucks away at a sharp steel fork. What I can remember about honeydew is my missed opportunities to have it and how my mother throws some into a freezer bag every summer in a rush.
From as early as the red sunrises after Valentine’s Day in February a rich exchange occurs at my house just before the weekend. Yellowing apples, mushrooms, a retro cooler with wheels, uncooked ribs, ripening bananas, soft rolls, skim milk and a beach bag with long blue straps go into the trunk of our car. All the perishables are readied for the trip up to our bricked two story beach house with white arched windows and copper gutters inSouthampton’s North Sea Beach Colony.
Within twenty minutes were onSunrisehighway, which extends under a certain azure morning sky as my father goes well above 60 mph. His eyes are on the lookout for any of the state troopers unfairly parked along the sides where the trees are thick or wherever the divider breaks into a smooth dry-grass median. As he drove, I should have loosened my safety buckle, reached into the back, grabbed the Ziploc containing our wet honeydew and had a quick taste test. My taste buds would have thanked me. It was never like that though; I would stare out my window as the car dealerships with balloons overhead disappeared and eventually gave to where the barren stretch of dead forest defines the real trek of the highway. Maybe if one of those troopers pulled out quickly enough, ran his sirens loud and did catch my father I would be reminded how easy it was to try honeydew.
“Listen sir, I’m a doctor. I don’t have time, they need me for a delivery atSouthamptonHospital,” My father would say collected, showing hisStonyBrookHospitalbadge instead of his black 2005 Chrysler Pacifica registration papers. My mother would back him up, if necessary from the passenger seat. A tall man, with twoNew YorkStateflag patches sown on each shoulder, would look back at him.
“Got any honeydew?” the officer would ask as other drivers passed behind him at illegal speeds. My father would look to his rearview.
“Make sure Christian has some,” the officer would remark while scribbling in his notepad.
This never happened though because my father always drove at the right speed at the right time. So I would forget about the stockpile of sliced honeydew inside the freezer bags during every drive up. My mind would wander and by the time the Shinnecock Indian trading post neared, I thought about the owner’s RV. It doubled as a tobacco stand and might have room for a bathroom in it fit with a shower and matching brown cotton towels.
Honeydew, despite being inanimate has apparently managed to roll away from me all my life. A few summers ago, after I ran down the mountainous dunes near my house with my sisters, I bet it was my uncle Joe who finished that bowl of fresh honeydew in our refrigerator. This raid must have happened while the other grownups huddled around the living room TV to hear about incoming hurricane Hanna from theCarolinas. To think, I could have been letting the juices of sweet honeydew fall down my chin into a lightly colored puddle of juice on a white porcelain plate, despite many napkins close by. I can see the kitchen slowly revolve around me and the candles, which my mother lit in-case of a power outage, reflect off the marbled countertops in a gentle glow. My swimming suit would be drying in the hot and turning laundry room, as each cold bite eased my saltwater mouth. I would have a big smile on while I scratched away at the remaining sand still caught in my hair.