© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, facts of life, seeds, watermelons, Bambino, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)
It’s not easy when you first hear about the facts of life. For most kids, the experience comes as a shock. I remember the day I learned all about it from Angelo, the only Italian kid in the neighborhood.
We sat on the porch one late summer afternoon, watching the weeds grow—for lack of anything better to do. When Mrs. Monson passed by, we both looked up. She waddled down the street, her rounded belly leading the way.
“You know how she got like that, don’t you?” Nine-year-old Angelo scratched at a scab on his knee.
“No, how?” I figured Angelo knew everything because he was a year older.
“Don’t your parents tell you anything?” Angelo gestured at the woman as she shuffled along and rubbed her lower back.
“Sure.” I scratched my head and thought for a minute. “My parents tell me all kinds of things … like …” I paused, trying to remember what great life lessons they’d taught me. Then it came to me and I recited from memory: “Do your homework! Go to bed! Get up or you’ll be late for school …don’t make me come in and pull you out of that bed!”
“No, not that kind of stuff.” Angelo shook his head in disbelief. “Stuff like why that lady has such a big belly.”
I watched Mrs. Monson’s aching back, moving away. “Because she’s going to have a baby?”
“Gee! No! Yuck! What would give you a weirdo idea like that?” Angelo’s brown eyes were almost red at the thought. “How would a baby ever get in there, anyway?”
“I dunno,” I replied, feeling dumber by the minute.
Angelo spit on the ground and crossed himself, like a good Catholic boy. Then looking at me, he drew in a long breath and proclaimed, “She’s big and round like that because instead of spitting out watermelon seeds, she ate them. There’s a fat watermelon growing in her tummy.”
I pondered that and wondered why my parents were so naïve as to believe that babies grew in tummies. They probably had it wrong because they weren’t Italian.
“From the looks of it,” Angelo went on in a whisper, his eyes swaying in time to Mrs. Monson’s receding-in-the-distance waddle, “I’d say she ate the seeds at the July 4th picnic. She’s ready to pop out a watermelon any day now.”
He said it so authoritatively, I believed him. In fact, all the kids in the neighborhood believed him. Whenever one of us accidentally swallowed a seed, we waited and watched for germination. One time, we were certain that Angelo was sprouting a “Bambino” melon, but it just turned out to be gas. We measured each other's bellies, and sighed with relief when watermelon season ended and none of us had grown a hybrid, or even an open-pollinated melon.
No doubt, my experience was not unique. You probably had an Angelo in your neighborhood … although maybe his name was something like “Fabio” if you grew up in Beverly Hills. Or “Yo, I be Iceberg de Man,” if you got your start in New York. Or Mahonri Moriancumer if you’re from Utah.
Thank goodness for the Angelos of the universe, because without them we might have learned the real truth about ingested seeds. In today’s world of crashing stock markets, global warming, and the virtual disappearance of Jujubes candy, it’s a truth so shocking that I choked on my chocolate milk when I read the headline in the Sanpete Messenger: “Spontaneous veggie garden sprouts near sewer ponds.”
Could it be? Do those seeds really end up in the sewer pond?
(To be continued …)
What's playing in my head: That's Amore (by Dean Martin).
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