I like vegetables. A lot. I’m a fan of corn on the cob, okra, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and even brussel sprouts. I prefer vegetables to meat. It’s a fact that I didn’t have my first hamburger until I was seven and to this day I am completely grossed out by any meat still on the bone. *Shudder*. I’ve dabbled in being a vegetarian but could never meet my protein requirements through beans and eggs and tofu.
One vegetable that I’m not crazy about in its natural state is the cucumber. They’re OK in a salad but I can’t say that I’ve ever craved them on their own. However, stick a cucumber in a barrel filled with brine and extra garlic and I just can’t get enough. I love pickles. And, believe it or not, I have a story about a pickle.
The year was 1997. It was June and I was in Hawaii on my honeymoon. Oh, there’s nothing like being in Hawaii when you’re in love. Everyone on the island was either just married, celebrating an anniversary, or in the service industry. I think if you take an aerial photo of Maui there is a strong resemblance to a heart shape. And that heart shape is wrapped in a warm crust of love with a creamy lava center. Love, love, love. Everyone was in love. And I wanted to shoot them all. Because I was on my love-filled honeymoon by myself. That’s right. My jerky fiance broke up with me three days before we were to be married. Oh, he still volunteered to go on the “trip” with me, and that’s when I told him to, well, you can guess the expletives I used.
So. Everywhere I turned people were hand in hand, kissing, taking photos with their post-nuptial glow, just generally happy. It burned my butt. I decided to take surfing lessons every day because that was an activity that demanded you be solo. Party of one. My lonely self with shaking legs trying to find my balance again. “Here, Jaws. Come and get me.” Much to my dismay, Jaws never came to put me out of my misery.
I know, what does any of this have to do with a pickle? Patience, my friends.
My family was there (the plan was for them to come to the wedding on the beach, celebrate at a luau, and then they’d go on a tour of other islands while we enjoyed our wedded bliss). They didn’t want me to be completely alone. So, while my mom and sister were out doing touristy stuff, my step-dad and I decided it would be good to start drinking. Immediately. We found a nice place where we could sit outside and at least enjoy the weather. I can’t tell you how much beer we put away but at one point our server said “I can’t remember ever serving as much beer as I’ve served to you two.” It was a moment to preserve in my wedding scrapbook.
We decided it would be a good idea (and with our server urging us to do the same) to get some food. I got a sandwich of some sort that came with some chips and a very sad looking pickle. I ate about 1/2 of what I was served but just couldn’t eat that pickle. It was just as sad as me. I poked at it, stared at it, considered talking to it. You know, drunk talk. “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had”. Me and that pickle, we were two peas in a pod. Sad. Miserable looking. Lonely. I could probably surf better than it could though. At least I had that going for me.
My step-dad was trying hard to cheer me up. We ordered more beer. Our server came to take our plates but I wouldn’t let him take my sad little friend away. Then, out of the corner of my eye, two elderly couples rounded the corner and were walking down the sidewalk towards our table. I love to people-watch but there was something about these two couples that made me stop and stare. Each couple was perfectly matched in their Hawaiian garb – a very colorful muumuu matched with their respective spouses’ Hawaiian shirt. The sight was overwhelming. All four of them were looking at me and smiling, walking hand-in-hand with their spouses. I wanted to start crying. They represented everything that I didn’t have. Someone to hold on to, to enjoy life with, to grow old with. Damn Jaws. Why didn’t he come get me? I watched them start to pass by our table. I looked up, tears threatening to spill over, and locked eyes with one of the men. It honestly felt like he could look straight into my soul and see that I was hurting beyond belief. At that point, his smile brightened a bit more. He looked down at my plate, looked back up at me and said “eat your pickle”. Then they were gone.
I am confident that this was his purpose in life, to tell me to eat that pickle. I took his advice. And I felt a bit better.
I married that jerk anyway once I got back to the mainland. We were married just under two years before getting a divorce. I can’t say that I have much of a desire to go back to Hawaii. I do, however, replay the pickle scene during times of great duress. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I wonder if that man is still alive? I wonder if he recalls that moment? I wish I could tell him the impact it had on me.
I think I’ll go have a pickle.