Cherries

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Biting into its soft meat, I'm greeted by an all-to-familiar burst of bittersweet tangy joy. The flavor explodes in my mouth, and I relish the familiar taste by popping another cherry into my mouth contently.

What's so special about a cherry? True, cherries are common and easy enough to come by here in the continental United States, but those are what I call Black Cherries; Sweet Cherries. They are far from what I munch on contently now.

Sour cherries. That is their name, and as it implies, they retain a bittersweet tangy flavor even at peak ripeness. Their skin is also a vibrant radiating red that exudes a bitter aura. Needless, they grow almost wild and abundant in southwestern Germany, and are considered rare to find here, as I've had limited luck finding them in the U.S.

Popping them reflexively into my mouth one by one, and expelling the bare pits brings me back in the years. To a happier innocent time. A time before I knew the use of a cherry pit…

Early afternoon, and I'm riding in an oldies vehicle that is speeding placidly down the autobahn at roughly 120 m.p.h., winding its way through rural southwestern Germany. The rush of green scenery flies by my eyes, and Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" is blasting in the stereo, which I found odd considering he's singing in American when we were presently in Germany.

It was my grandfather's job to transport me, and my three best friends, Daniel and his cousins Christian and Christine to a small rural town suburb of Nurnberg for some annual town festival. So far, I thought he was doing well in his prowess considering the 11-year old, two 10-year olds and the 9-year old cramped into the backseat of his car as he sped along.

As the hours crept on, hunger pangs begin to hit, and since it's hard to ignore four whining children, he soon pulled off onto the shoulder and stopped at a small roadside stand that was selling Sour Cherries by the bag-full. They were relatively cheap since they are so easy to come by, and he bought a bag of them, plopping them into Christian's lap for us all to share as he continued on.

The process of eating a simple cherry was quite a long task, and not one I found enjoyable. You pulled your cherry out of the bag, sucked it dry until all you had left in your mouth was a naked pit, spit the pit into your hand, bent forward while trying to ignore the seatbelt cutting into your flesh painfully, maneuvered your bent body over two to four legs depending on which side of Christian you sat on, and dumped the cherry pit into the plastic bag sitting at his feet. Then the process would begin again.

What made it worse, though, was when the bag began to fill. Then you had to worry about actually getting your cherry pit into to bag, and not just leaving itsticking disgustingly to the side of the bag. The sight was neither pretty nor pleasant.

Being 10 years old, and having the patience level of less than nothing, the tedious task began to annoy me, as things so often did. So, I decided there had to be another way to get rid of the cherry pits.

I prodded the button that would open my rear window, finding myself blessed at having been smashed into at least a window seat. As the glass lowers itself and finally disappears I pop another cherry into my mouth.

When it's finished, I don't repeat the mechanical process of throwing the seed away, however. I decide on the easier way...

I spit it out the open window.

Now, at this time I should remind you we're still speeding down the autobahn through rural Germany at the equivalent of about 120 m.p.h., and my grandpa is still blasting the stereo, now blaring some German Folk Music of his.

Well, with the music so loud, it's not as though I could hear if my action had caused any trouble, after waiting and nothing happened, I assumed it was safe to continue. So, I did just that. Spitting them repeatedly out the window.

After a few minutes, Daniel catches me and my actions across the seat, for he has taken residence of the second window seat, and he too decides that he's tired of fighting the seatbelt to throw away a single cherry pit. What's he do? Rolls down his window and does exactly what I did.

Christian and Christine, who are sitting between us, are spared our troubles with the cherries, because the trash bag sits between them, they only have to drop the seeds into the bag.

As the cherry pits continue to fly out the windows, I sing happily along to the German music coming from the stereo. The minutes wear on, however, and soon my singing is interrupted by a car's horn sounding off behind us.

Curiously, I poke my head out the window to see what's wrong. When I do see, I'm shocked to say the least. The little, white, ritzy foreign car riding behind us has cherry pits dried onto his hood, which was severely dented, and his windshield sported a large crack running half-way across the passenger's side.

I quickly pull my head inside again, fighting off, rather unsuccessfully I might add, the laughing fit that threatens me. Again, Daniel sees me, and sticks his own head out his respective window. When his blonde head pulls back in, her bursts out laughing hysterically.

By now, Christian and Christine are curious too, and they both scramble to undo their seatbelts and clamber painfully over Daniel and I to the nearest window to see what's going on.

By now, the back of the car is roaring in laughter, as even I can't hold it in anymore, and my grandpa is still speeding away, happily humming along to a song from his tape.

He never once did turn around...

Sucking thoughtfully on a cherry pit, I can't help but laugh. Even if that had happened almost five full years ago, the memory is still vivid. As though it had happened just yesterday. I haven't thought about that day in a long time, haven't thought about that event and the people involved in that same time span either. But, sucking on the cherries that comprised a greater part of my diet during my youth there brought the memory back.

I pop another cherry into my mouth and spit the seed into a small collection bowl to be thrown away later. I smile knowingly at it.

Since that day, I've never looked at a cherry pit in the same way again.

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So. What do you think? Go ahead and laugh if you want to. This did actually happen to me, and how I wrote it is exactly how I remember it too. Please RR. Thanks

Shiruba-Kitsune (Silver Fox)