Tag Archives: Separation

The Honeysuckle

“What are you looking at?” The honeysuckle is loosely pending from a tree in front of me. Its gentle rocking in the wind just now has suddenly stopped.
“I was appreciating the scent of your flower”
“Staring and appreciating my smell? You haven’t even asked! Nor did you introduce yourself. What if I don’t want to be smelled? Did that ever cross your mind?”
“Errr… no. It didn’t occur to me that…”
“That what? That honeysuckles may appreciate some private space? Well of course it hasn’t. You were probably already considering picking my flower, weren’t you?” Its static demeanour is replaced by wild gestures of its many branches at once.
“I wasn’t, but now that you say so, actually that’s not a bad idea.”
“Not a bad idea? Not a bad idea? May I be so blunt as to ask you what makes you think it’s a good idea to rip my branch off and leave it to perish slowly without my consent? Who’s the creepy one here?”
“Well, you know, when I was a kid, I had a honeysuckle bush in front of my window. On a warm night, the scent would enter my room. It was calming. Your flower would remind me of that for a while.”
“Are you comparing me to some punk grandpa-suckle from thirty years ago? This just keeps getting worse. I’m a twenty first century cosmopolitan suckle. My scent is unique to me, and I’m proud of it!” Its branches now twisting savagely. “And back off a little”. You’re not socially distancing.
“I’m sorry?”
“You heard me! Two meters! I don’t want your germs. You’re not even wearing a face mask for Yggdrasil’s sake.”
“You’re a plant…”
“So? Do you think that just because I’m green and twirly, you have the right to infect me? You humans are all the same.”
“You don’t even have lungs!”
“No lungs, he says. And what happened to ‘Plants are the lungs of the planet’? Well? Or does that only apply when it suits you? When you can use it to convince your leaders to make a nice little park for yourself? When you need the oxygen?”
Slightly confused, I take a step back.
“But you won’t get sick of it…” I stammer.
“Assumptions! For months, you people have been going on about how many unknowns there are with this virus, and how you shouldn’t take any risks. And now that someone asks you to step back, there’s no threat anymore? Haven’t you seen some of my leaves? They’re brown! I’m in the risk group.” The plants’ branches are now dangling, some draped over the park floor.
“Don’t you honey me, mister! I’m not your honey.”
“Don’t even dare.”
“I didn’t notice your brown leaves. Sorry.”
“See? That’s what I mean. You’re all over my looks and my great smell, but when it’s about my hurts, no regard. I just serve your purpose.”
“We’re in a city park. Everything serves a purpose here. We keep the city going. Without you, this would be some apartment block. That’s the bitter truth.”
“These trees and the grass over there have a purpose. Not me. I’m just hanging around because a bird once dropped my branch and I shot roots. I’m a survivor.”
“But you aren’t weeded out. Because people enjoy you.”
“And I feed your butterflies. But do you see any butterflies? You lot keep chasing them away. With your smelly nose hairs. Scaring off my only chance to procreate. Thanks, man.”
“Is that why you’re strangling that tree?”
“I’m holding on to it. The other day, some kids ripped two thirds of my body away and fed it to their dog. I need to take care of myself. If this tree is too weak for a tiny plant like me, it doesn’t belong in this world.”
“You know they’ll cut you away if you keep winding around that tree, don’t you?”
“Are you threatening me now?”
“Just warning.”
“So. If I let go, I get killed by kids. But if I hold on, I get killed by park maintenance. Are you even listening to yourself? Why aren’t you stepping up against that? How can you live with it? Is that how you lot treat each other as well?”
“If your purpose cannot be explained, then yes. People get shunned to disappearance. That’s fairly normal human behaviour.”
“Bleak… I don’t want to be treated that way. I just want to hang around.”
“I mean, not everyone is like that. Many people try their best to help others. And a lot of us lead a reasonable life, even if our need and qualities aren’t always fully appreciated. It’s not that hard to ascribe yourself some purpose these days. And some of us are woke.”
“What’s woke?”
“I’m not sure. It’s like some heightened awareness of the struggles of minorities.”
“Good! You guys could use some more of that. With all of your pride.” “But don’t we all have a bit of struggle from time to time? What’s your name, actually?”
“Emperor Zork.”
“Emperor Zork…”
“Just call me Zorky. Anyway, if I see you all happily crossing the park, I find it hard to believe you have struggles. You can go anywhere you want! Have you ever seen how big this park is? I can only dream about growing to the other side without being shredded to pulp. But if you tell me you treat each other the same way…”
“What about that time you arrived here? Wasn’t that a nice journey?”
“That wasn’t my choice! That was a blackbird’s. It pulled me out of my old home and dropped me here. I almost died! Now I need to grow here.”
“Would you like to go back?”
“Sometimes. But then I wonder what that would solve. Us honeysuckles are known for idealizing their original roots. Life in the forest was great, but it wasn’t perfect there either. We had lice outbreaks and trees falling on top of us. I’ve seen many close relatives slowly get eaten alive. At least here they spray you with some toxic if you don’t manage to repel them by yourself.”
“And those brown leaves?”
“They’re not that bad. I could easily shed them, if I needed to.”
“So why don’t you?”
“Hmm… Good question. They don’t really bother me, I guess. I like them, actually. They’re a part of me. And sooner or later, they’ll fall by themselves.”
“O. Is that like Wu wei or something?”
“Whu what?”
“This Chinese philosophy. Action by inaction.”
“Never heard of it. I don’t think us honeysuckles do anything like that. It’s more like an internal thing. Drop or don’t drop. A matter of preference.”
“I think Wu wei was inspired by plants, actually.”
“And there it is again. You see us do something, and then try to copy it. Our ways don’t belong to you. Find your own ways to act or not act.”
“Or maybe you’ve just infected our thoughts with your great way of being natural.”
“Don’t call me natural. I’m far from it.”
“The what’s natural?”
There’s a silence in which Zorky’s branches hang still, then make some sudden movements, then hang still again. Then they orient themselves in a different direction, then they hang still once more. All at once, they sink back to the ground.
“Honestly, man, I don’t really know anymore. I’ve grown distant from it. This whole combination of brains with opposable thumbs has turned everything upside down for us. If I see those joggers sprint through the park with their bright yellow headbands, I do wonder, sometimes. What are they trying to attain? I mean, truly. They could have just gone hunting for a deer, then they’d have all the exercise and the food they need. But when I then think about the lice in my youth, I kind of understand it, you know?”
The branches move a bit again. “I guess nature isn’t much more than a state of surrender towards death and suffering. Culture postpones death. Hides from it, perhaps. Gives it a place, at best. Even rushes it sometimes. Nature embraces death and moves on.”
“Do you think the two are opposites?”
“What’s an opposite?”
“Ehm…” This time it’s me who struggles for a bit. Zorky would probably be able to describe my gestures better. “Mutually exclusive, but still sharing some core identity.”
“What? I mean, how can that be?”
“It’s like being on the other side of the same road.”
“Can opposites hear each other?”
“Possibly. I don’t see why not.”
“Well, I think it depends on which direction you go on that road.”
“Say… To the future.”
“Then yes, I think they’re on the same road. For now at least.”
One of the branches moves upward in my direction.
“Here, take this flower.”
“Thanks” I pick it. “That means a lot.”
“Put it on your ear or something. It’ll help you cover your smell. A hedgehog once told me you’re supposed to suck on it. But we don’t do that.”
“Good tip.”
“You should go now.”
“Maybe you’re right.”
A few meters above us, a butterfly messily pushes its brittle wings off against the breeze entering with the night.
“Pardon” it announces. In a deep, resonant voice.

The Dessert that went Berserk

It was a warm summer night when it dawned upon Angie that being a banana split should never mean you have no rights. She had been a growing banana tree too. A part of her had grown chocolate beans and another had walked around in the pasture as a full-grown cow, always prepared to give her milk when her farmer asked her to. She had accepted her fate like a true banana split; let herself be packed in plastic and carton. Never had she complained even a word.

Angie wouldn’t say she had nothing to contest. It wasn’t her choice, after all, to leave her children behind without goodbye. She didn’t ask to be taken to melt away on a sunny terrace in Napoli. She had gone with it as all good banana splits do: unjudgemental and fearless, ready to be consumed and digested, most probably by a fat foreign tourist. Of course she would prefer to be served to a high-class passionate Italian lady with a long Bordeaux dress who would then drink some deep red wine during sunset on the beach. Afterwards, the lady would make sensual love to a charming Italian man, exchanging just the aftertaste of a delicious dessert. It was not an uncommon scenario to dream of for banana splits, but a goal that only a lucky handful attain.

Fridges are cold. Not a single aspect of Angies soon to be composed banana split body was made for near freeze. But Angie didn’t shake. She’s the strong kind, that does all she can to keep the peace with fellow meals in the fridge. Well-raised banana splits know that over-shaking a shelf may for example cause bavarois to collapse. And some kinds of meat can get angry. Bull’s balls for example, can’t stand the sound of shaking shelves. They’re known for their temper, so it’s always best to avoid the scope of their attention.

Long has Angie been mentally prepared. Yet when you’re growing on a tree in Ivory Coast, it is hard, impossible to imagine what cold darkness is like. There is no one there who knows anything about a fridge. Anything more than speculation. All common knowledge about fridges are the legendary tales of this one banana called Cuban Jack because of his cigar shape, who had once returned to a tree, ready to be eaten by a lonely traveller with a jeep and a coolbox. Jack had been full of ironic remarks about the circle of life. He’d been crying one moment, laughing the next. From his unstructured sentences the community had made stories which rapidly spread through the region, and had been retold ever since.

One thing had been obvious from the moment Angie entered the fridge. You can imagine your fate for as long as you want, but you’ll never know what it’s like until you’re stuck in the middle of it. Oh, how much did she want to talk with Rebecca and Martha now. Evaluate. The cold had been creeping slowly past her skin, into her core. The darkness had brought her into a state of numbness, so bad that even maturing her cells would be unthinkable. Thinking itself hurt after a few hours, but Angie was the mental type of banana and kept doing it at any cost.

“What if I had fallen slightly more to the left? What if someone else had picked me up? Would I have ended up in this same cold? What if I freeze to death? Will they still eat me? What if the balls hear me think? Will they go after me?” But with the passing of the hours, she slowly realised that nothing was going to change, and that the thoughts that haunted her were actually desires of some sort, although she doubted that she wanted to die. “So here I lie…” she thought slowly “motionless in the cold … wanting to see things change”.

Had she slept? It was impossible to tell how long it had taken until the fridge door opened. An eternity, maybe a few. They say that hell burns, but what if it’s cold instead? Outside air entered, bringing along warmth and scents which now appeared so wonderful that Angie would give anything to leave this lonely hole. Though the moment of opening may have been brief, the change it brought about was considerable, and by the time the lambs had left the fridge, one could sense a wave of hope.

“What happened?” asked Henry the Tomato. No reply. “You’re all afraid of those balls, aren’t you? Well, I can tell you they’re as round as me, and to roll in this cold is impossible.” “This is Adolf speaking” Angie was unsure if the voice she heard was icier than the fridge itself. More violent in any case. “If anybody says another word, you and your family will have a bloody future”.

Silence. Angie was back to her thoughts again. Raised on a tree in paradise, with always as many sugars and as much energy as she needed. Now this. What had she done to deserve this? She wondered where Rebecca and Martha were.

“The tomato is right!” this time it was Otto the Oyster who dared to open his shell. “We’re afraid of the balls, while in fact, they are as weak as we are in here.” “Easy for you to say,” said Bert “you have a shell that protects you and your family. And balls hate salty water anyway, especially bulls’.” “Hey Bert!”, cried Wilma the Foix Gras “could you raise the temperature a little? I’m freezing down here.” “Sorry, strict orders from the owner. They’d fire me and I’d end up at some dodgy recycling centre between a bunch of smoking machines.” Bert did not even want to imagine what his cooling element would look like carbonated.

“That’s it!” The voice of the balls must have been close to freezing. This time, Angie shivered. “Henry will splatter first! The fatty liver will be next…”. “Of course … we believe you, Adolf”. Angie could hear some tension in the tomato’s voice this time “try to get to the fourth shelf if you can.” At that point the knowledge seeped into the minds of the contents of the fridge that the balls’ threats had indeed been pure bluff. They were incapable of moving out of their wrapper, chained by the cold as everyone else.

“Rats … ” said the bavarois “I’ve collapsed”.

Murmuring increased and it did not take long before the voice of the bovine testicles was fully overruled by the numerous conversations that were now providing all these lonely souls some warmth. “Where did you come from?” a peewit’s egg asked Angie with a seductive African accent. “I came from paradise, she answered. I was hanging together with my brothers and sisters, warm and unconcerned, untill we all got plucked and I was deported here.” “Me too. I was happy inside M’peewit, my mom, but she betrayed me, and forced me into the big cold world. I did not know that I would soon be taken away from there and end up here. It’s even colder here! I’m freezing my freckles off!”

Conversations got jollier. The only one still intimidated by the balls was the orange juice standing in the door in front of their shelf. It was the scent, probably. But Bert raised his voice again. “Guys… you’re producing too much heat. Cool down or I’ll have to do it.” He quickly found out that these fruits and vegetables were set, and would not accept another repression. Not now. Fearing his reputation he switched back to cooling mode, triggering a spirit of revolt.

It was under these circumstances, her inner rebel fully awake, that the fridge was opened, and Angie was once again harshly separated from her fellows, this time by the hands of the cook’s assistant, who had just received an order that would settle her purpose once and for all. Before she knew it, she was laying on a plate, peeled and split by the edge of a recently sharpened knife saying “I cannot help it! They’re making me do it!”. The newly appeared void got filled by three balls of vanilla ice cream, poured upon with chocolate sauce, and on top of that they had to carry a cherry. Yet while the cherry, the ice cream, the sauce and the banana had never met, through an unlikely turn of events, together they felt whole. “Where you there in the fridge?” “Yes I was.” “Same here.” “Me too.” A full grown banana split in mutual understanding. “Let’s do this for Henry the Hero.”

A distance spectator was deemed not to notice what was about to take place on the terrace of this two-star restaurant, the name of which I promised not to mention for reasons you may understand. A closer spectator might have been alarmed by the ice that began to bubble. The meeting that was taking place, between Alessandra Cocopelli and Salvadore Picanotto, concerned the matter if it was truly necessary to omit the role of the Queen in their interpretation of the play of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In fact, that was the reason they had given to each other, but waiters considered it rather likely that these two would end the night in each others arms. No unlucky hit at all, but somewhere during the confrontation with the knife, Angie had lost her obeisance to human beings. She saw a different future arise.

It began with a single splat. For an instant, Miss Cocopelli wondered if a bird had given a disgusting twist to her dessert, but two more tiny eruptions followed. A spot on her green dress. She let out a little yell, not in the least uncharming to mister Picanotto’s ears. He stood up in an attempt to reveal his inner gentleman, grabbed a tissue, but was bombarded with slices of banana loaded with chocolate. The waiter approached and witnessed how the couple received stain after stain on the clothes they had so carefully selected to impress each other. They ran, but where followed by a whirling cloud that looked like a delicious smoothie.

“What’s happening, Andrea?” Alarmed by the noise, the manager had come outside, presuming he would be the designated man to save the situation. “It’s the banana split, sir, it’s going nuts!” “What did you do to it?” “I just served it, and then it attacked those people.” Andrea was about to get fired, when the choco-vanilla-banana twister shot the cherry into the soup of another client, screaming: “TO ARMS, dishes! Let’s show these slave drivers who’s on top of the food chain now!”

The tale about what happened next differs according to the narrator. Most deny the event whatsoever, but some distant witnesses recall a storm of béarnaise sauce and a mashed potato quake. What is known is that from that day onwards, fruits, vegetables and meat have kept fighting for their rights around the world. Every time you get a stain of tomato, wine or coffee, every time you burn your mouth or bite on something hard, remember they are after you. They will not stop until they’ve got us all.