There's a buzz circulating in small-town USA, and I'm not talking about the anticipation of Justin Bieber's upcoming birthday. I came across a new item at the grocery store. There, between the strawberries and pre-cut watermelon, sat an unassuming bag containing three fruits. At first glance, I thought they were apples because that's what they looked like. Then I saw the label: "grapples."
I read the word with a short "a" so it rhymed with, well, apples. The association seemed pretty obvious. Upon further inspection, I noted the label provided instructions to give the word a long "a" as in, well, grapes. You know you've invented a new vocabulary word when you've got to tell people how to pronounce it. Problem is, that was a few days ago and I'm still stuck on the short "a." Some people never learn. You say gray-pull I say grap-pul.
However you say it, the discovery was pretty exciting - and not just because it's the end of February. It isn't every day you find a new fruit sitting on the shelves at the grocery store. In fact, I can't recall ever discovering a new fruit anywhere, unless you count the dark day someone told me tomatoes aren't vegetables. But I digress.
We were talking about grapples - apples lusciously infused with a grape immersion (according to the label) to create an apple that tastes like a grape, or a grape that looks like an apple. Take your pick.
This got me wondering. Why would an apple want to taste like anything other than an apple? The crisp, crunchy fruits are pretty darn luscious and tempting on their own. This has been a documented fact since nearly the dawn of time.
On the other side of the vineyard, grapes possess their own powerful appeal. I enjoy popping them in my mouth, eating them whole. Freezing them for a snack. Drinking them fermented. Grapes are great.
For one reason or another, we must assume grapes got the notion they'd be more appealing as apples, and vice versa. It's an issue we humans wrestle with all the time: I'd be so much better if only I were infused with (fill in the blank here).
I'd like to be a little less than myself at the moment - especially around the middle. And taller. Like one of those super-models. While we are on the subject, I'd like to immerse my being with the perfect mom down the street. The one who never raises her voice or makes accusations before collecting all the facts. I'd like to get by on less sleep. Get more work done. Be more successful. Cheerier. Perkier. And have a cleaner house. Oh, and I'd like to be the person who makes all her bread from scratch and has never ever even considered buying cupcakes from the bakery. Yeah, I want to be her.
I'm a grape who wants to be an apple - or maybe a cantaloupe - although we understand that's more silly than possible. For me, or for any of us. Despite our collective insecurities (and we all have them) most of us are in the same predicament. We're apples looking to become more like grapes or grapes looking to become more like apples or peaches or cherries or pomegranates or anything other than what we are right now. We are stuck and uncomfortable in our own skins.
A grape looks at an apple and sees everything it is not. The apple does the same. If all fruits followed this path we'd find ourselves with the choices like limegranates, crananas, and maybe even zucchiwi (botanically, zucchini are fruits, much like the savory tomato). It would be a crazy, mixed up produce section - not to mention world.
But then again, it already is. Perhaps it's time to simplify. To get comfortable in our own skins and call a spade a spade - or in this case an apple an apple. I'd like to try, but I'm not sure I'm ready for it. I'm still grappling with the idea of which fruit I was born to be - or if I'm even cut out to be a fruit in the first place.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.