Joey Cifelli ’23
I look at the homogenous sky today, the plain blue, and I think of something someone told me once, on a train, about an orange. He said to me, “I’ve started a habit of eating oranges frequently. I eat one with every meal, and then I might have one for a snack, and maybe one after dinner for dessert.” I said I wanted to know more. He went on, “when I eat an orange, I do it very slowly. I used to do it very fast. I never thought about it. When I was a kid, we ate fruit so quickly, I guess to get it over with. I take my time now. I peel the rind meticulously, using only my fingers. I remove every speck of the pith.” I nodded along as he spoke. I was completely fixated. He continued his tale. 6.8/10.
“Every part of the process is incredibly satisfying,” he said. “The whole time I’m peeling and picking, I’m thinking about how delicious each one of those wedges is going to be. All this work I’m putting in—and it doesn’t feel like work—makes the experience of eating beautiful, even sublime.” He paused for that moment, took a deep breath. “I hold the clean orange in my hand and look at it for about a minute, just look at it. It’s a work of art. Then, I place it between my palms and gently separate the wedges into two halves. There’s a heavenly sound as the wedges pull away from each other, like little scratches on an itch.” He closed his eyes and fluttered his fingers over his ears, seemingly attempting to replicate the sound. When he stopped, his face bore an expression of immeasurable disappointment. He sighed and shook his head. 6.4/10.
We spent some time in silence after that. I thought he might have finished. I heard him whisper something under his breath. I asked him what he said. He stood up in an instant and screamed, “the taste!” loud enough for the rest of the passengers in the car and likely the train to hear. They gave us startled looks and I felt embarrassed. “I’m sorry,” he said, after he sat back down, “I think of the taste and I become unable to control myself. I have a method of consumption to extend the flavor as long as possible. I bite into the wedge and let the initial burst explode in my mouth. Then I pop the remaining juice sacs between my front teeth, one at a time. I can get a single wedge to last for four minutes.” Needless to say, I was very impressed. 6.2/10.
Like all beautiful things, like an orange, my companion’s tale couldn’t last forever. Our train came to a stop and he stood up to leave. I asked him where he was going. “I’m a bank robber,” he said, “I’m going to go rob a bank.” As he walked away, I remembered my packed lunch sitting at the bottom of my backpack. In all the excitement I had completely forgotten to eat. I called out to him, just before he walked off the train. He turned around. I tossed him the orange from my lunch. He held the orange in his hands and looked at it as it were the only thing in the world. A single tear ran down his cheek. “Thank you,” he said, and then again, barely a whisper, “thank you.” 6.6/10.