A Dead Give-away

by nevillem
(2217 Australia)

When growing up our backyard had seven fruit trees. Due to the variety, we had fruit of some sort nearly every month of the year.

There was an apple tree but it grew only cooking apples - no good for eating off the branch. In the apple season we had apples for dessert after the evening meal done in just about every conceivable way. We had stewed apples and custard, stewed apples and baked custard, stewed apples and ice-cream, baked apples and custard, baked apples and baked custard, baked apples and ice-cream, apple pies with the same combinations and apple sauce for anything else.

The apricot, plum and peach tree fruit could be bottled and preserved for later on in the year but apple cannot, hence we eat it until well and truly tired of it. Believe me, apple desserts can be a bit trying after a while.

The mandarin was the prize. That tree always had much more fruit on it than we could eat. The green skins started to get orange colouring at the end of autumn and by the middle of winter the fruit was fully ripened and sweet. As a family we were well and truly over the taste of them by this time. As the tree was loaded, we shared them with any of the neighbours who wanted them.

One day I took some with me to school. I handed them out to my classmates and warned them that no one was to eat one during school lessons because it would be confiscated.

In any group, there is always a smart one. One who always knows better than the rest and is usually the most vocal. One who just cannot bide his or her time and always wants to be first. I have no doubt you are aware of this type of person.

I knew from experience that once the skin of a mandarin was pierced, the aromatic oils would flood a confined area. So it was in that classroom. Someone could not wait. The instant that singular smell hit the airways I knew that someone in the room had contravened my instruction. There is no hiding that smell, it is so distinctive. Rightly or wrongly someone had stepped over the line. I knew, the teacher knew and so did everyone else. The culprit realised the mistake and had to forego that piece of fruit.

Consequently no more free rides to school for other mandarins after that episode.

Whenever I puncture the base of a mandarin with my thumb to peel it, I am always reminded of this.

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