mary bufe

Mary Bufe — sheltering in place

Since April, this newspaper has been publishing online only. That will change in two weeks, when the print edition returns.

For me, this is a time of reflection. I’ve been in deep discussion with myself about all the things I’ve learned during this remarkable period of history.

Q: What has surprised you most?

A: My hair.

Q: Your hair?

A: I thought it would grow faster. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hair is supposed to grow a half inch per month, or roughly six inches a year.

Q: And?

A: I think mine has grown two inches, tops. I did get it trimmed once. Still. It’s a disappointment.

Q: How about your roots? Learn anything there?

A: Only my hairdresser knows for sure.

Q: What else have you discovered?

A: I’ve discovered that I pick better fruit than the people at Sam’s Club who prepare online orders for pickup. Some clearly need some training on how to choose a proper watermelon.

Q: Well, why not share that information here so everyone knows?

A: I’d be happy to! First, find yourself a firm, evenly shaped watermelon. You’re going to be tempted to take the biggest one, but don’t! Medium-size is better. Also, the watermelon should feel heavy for its size. Then — and this is critical — hold your watermelon in one arm while slapping it on the side with your other hand. If the watermelon is good, it should sound like you’re slapping a basketball.

Q: Huh. I bet someone takes your advice and does this next time they go shopping.

A: I hope so! Back in the “Before Times” when I shopped INSIDE of stores, I saw very few shoppers slapping their watermelons. But I never felt it was my place to intervene. I regret that sometimes.

Q: Why is that?

A: I mean, everybody WANTS a good watermelon. A watermelon is a big piece of fruit! Good or bad, you’re going to be stuck with it for a while.

Q: Go on.

A: The fact is, some people just don’t know how to pick a good one. They let themselves be deceived by appearances. They don’t know to slap it. Or they just figure all watermelons are the same. Getting a delicious one, they think, is mostly luck.

Q: You’ve spent a lot of thinking about this, haven’t you?

A: Yes, and let’s be honest: there are few things more disappointing than cutting one open and realizing you’ve made a mistake, a terrible, horrible mistake. Worse, if it’s rotten and you eat it, it will make you sick. Oh, some people will make excuses, and tell you that it’s really not that bad. In fact, they’ll say it’s the GREATEST. Of course, some of them who eat it will also end up sick.

My point is, we really need to do a better job of educating EVERYONE about how to pick a good one. One that won’t kill you.

Q: Are we still talking about watermelons?

A: It’s been a long five months.