My watermelon? My dollar a pound watermelon? Excellent. To paraphrase a line said by John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, I don't know if it was worth twelve dollars but it was pretty effing good.
When I mentioned putting salt on a watermelon I was thinking about how folks are often split on the idea of salt on a melon. Some, like me, swear by putting a bit of salt on a melon and other liken salt on a melon to pouring ketchup on a hot fudge sundae. To prove my point that salt on a melon helps bring out the sweetness I wanted to link to a video of Petey Greene eating a watermelon on his TV show.
If you lived in the Washington, DC area during the late 70s and 80s like I did you've probably heard of Petey Greene. He was a radio and TV personality and I used to watch his show, Petey Greene's Washington. I used to think I was the only one who watched it until I found out a lot of my friends would watch him each week because this guy was absolutely fascinating. He talked about all sorts of stuff, sometimes in a really over-the-top way. He absolutely unique. So different than regular stiffs clogging up the local TV stations at that time.
Anyway, I knew there was a video clip of Petey Greene eating watermelon on his show because I had found it months ago when I was trying to find clips of his TV show. And I knew on that clip he mentions how putting a little salt on melon (a "twang" was how it was put to him) is the proper way to enjoy it so I was going to link to it when I mentioned my outrageously priced melon last week. Then I hesitated and finally stopped myself from using it. I had a fear of me, white woman from Mississippi, putting a clip of an African-American man on TV eating watermelon and having it misinterpreted. All I could think of was someone seeing that clip linked on my blog and someone becoming upset over it. Especially since he says the n-word four or five times during the clip. In these times where the American presidential primary season has brought race back into the headlines and figures like Jeremiah Wright being pilloried in the media for what was seen as bigoted remarks made by him I was worried about my motivations being called into question. I feared that someone would think I was mocking Petey Greene or mocking African-Americans in general and not getting the point of the clip.
Then I realized I was the one not getting the point of the video clip. I'd seen it a dozen times at least. I probably saw it when it originally aired. In the clip he cuts into a halved watermelon and just bites into it, juice dripping onto his chin and the whole works. Petey Greene then goes on to say how it irks him for African-Americans to be in the closet with their watermelon eating. To make it seem more acceptable they cut it up, mix it with other fruit and serve it as a fruit salad, which to Petey Greene was a shame since it ruined something that was great on its own to start with. Petey Greene was all about being up front with watermelon eating - just cut off a wedge and bite into it.
His point wasn't so much the melon but how we do things or don't do thing merely out of fear of how we'll be perceived, much in the way I didn't link to the video clip because of fear of how I'd be perceived. The African-Americans he was irritated with chopped up their melons and mixed them up as a salad so they wouldn't look like the stereotype of blacks eating watermelons. The white folks were he was attending a party didn't have to worry about such an appearance so they simply served slices of watermelon. To Petey Greene doing something that wasn't the best thing to do just for sake of appearances alone was something one should think twice about. And that was what I really dug about him and his show when I watched it. His way of saying something we needed to hear but he did it in a way that wasn't bombastic or preachy.
As I said, in the clip Petey Greene mentions salt on a melon and how he learned the proper way to salt a melon and the two old gentlemen who taught him that over-salting a melon wasn't the way to go were correct. It does take just a twang.
Here's the clip so you can see for yourself his ideas about watermelon. And salt. And his crazy idea that putting skewers in an ear of corn is somehow wrong. How in the world can someone hold a hot ear of corn without skewers?
Careful - he does use the n-word a few times. Don't play it too loudly in your office and get yourself fired.