A Conversation with a Pineapple

Illustration by Ryan Miller.


Have you ever had a conversation with a pineapple?

No? Well the thought occurred to me last week when a friend casually gifted me a pineapple. Graciously accepting the unexpected present, I plopped it on the counter top and took inventory of my newly prized delicacy: It sure looked like a pineapple, like all the other ones I’ve ever eaten in my life. It had a pompous top of frigid spikes and an equally barbarous hard shell, all sheeny and ostentatious. Fresh from the Tropics! its tag even proclaimed. I don’t know why it struck me so much to have such a foreign specimen in front of me. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered one.

In fact, I remember seeing hoards of them crammed into the back of a diesel truck pummeling down a winding Costa Rican roadway. Packed so tight, like one of those Escher magical eye paintings, the sight was so commonplace, that over time it was, just another pineapple truck. A few bounced out the back of the roaring spectacle, a few casualties hardly noticed in the daily commute of treacherous on-coming traffic, mousy beeps at every corner, meep meep! beads of sweat on foreheads in humidity in the afternoon drive of the dusty rural Central American byways. I clung tight to the armrests of the taxi cab, never exhaling until we met our destination.

I know its origin. I feel a kinship, in a way. Every time I bite into the incredible sweetness of a pineapple I recall this image.

Kind of like the time we were in 8th grade Spanish class and the teacher passed out raisins to all the students.

“Close your eyes and imagine the life of this raisin,” she instructed. “This raisin has a rich history, so as you taste the sugar, as you feel the texture, think about all that went into the creation of this fruit.”

We thought of the sunshine that had condensed into a pea-sized form, of the sugars crystallizing as grapes sat in the midday sun. Then plucked by darkly tanned fingers and packaged at the facility and sent here to its final destination.

The raisin, ever since, has taken on a different meaning. Just like the pineapple.

If I were to sit down and actually have a conversation with a pineapple, it might tell of such a life cycle. You look at it a little different. Like on the tube the other day, we were watching a show on how jellybeans are made. I watched as coat after coat of sugar and corn syrup was applied. Such a process! I thought. I’ll never look at them the same.

Somehow I feel like the little brother in Mr. Berman’s poem, “Snow.” A friend recited it to me a couple winters back. I can’t get over how he questioned the older brother about things we fail to recognize, taken under assumption. That poem reminded me to ponder and never stop questioning, to see beyond our culture’s attitudes and preconceived notions.

Maybe the pineapple struck me so much because of my friend’s nonchalant generosity of the gift. I really appreciated that pineapple, but he didn’t know, because he was more a friend of a friend, and being jobless at the moment, I’ve been counting my weeks in how much food I have rationed until my new job starts. At my doorstep, I said goodbye with a smile beaming on my face, explaining that I have a pineapple now, so its all going to be okay. We thought it might be all right to make a pineapple upside-down cake from it, but I remember that the oven hasn’t been working for a while now, and the landlord has neglected to fix it. But that’s okay, because I have more than I could ask for. Like a warm bed to sleep in at night, and a loving, supportive community, and a lot of ambition. But not too much. Never too much.

Everything happens for a reason, I always say. I imagine the universe grants you what you need when you need it the most. Just most of us fail to see it. Sometimes a wake-up call arrives in the form of a delicious sweet and tangy yellow fruit, fresh from the tropics. That’s what I’d tell the pineapple. See! It’s been a good conversationalist.

Christine Becker is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin –Stevens Point where she received a liberal arts degree and has since dabbled in various fields. Ultimately she has proclaimed to be a life-long learner, constantly seeking new challenges. Her current occupation is working in the non-profit sector. In her free time she enjoys outdoor activities, living in the Midwest, community development, and writing and pondering life’s mysteries.