Sunday, 27 May 2007

The Pineapple of Disability

Having been a competent adult for nigh on, well, at least a few years now, I would have had trouble believing that I could find myself cripplingly disabled by something so seemingly innocuous as a pineapple*. I could, as I found out earlier today.

I bought the pineapple about a week ago. It had since sat in the kitchen, unmolested and was beginning to settle into its skin. I hesitated to do anything with it for two reasons:

1) I wasn’t in a pineapple mood;
2) I wasn’t sure what I was going to do to the pineapple.

Please don’t misunderstand me. There have several occasions in my life where I have taken a large kitchen knife to a pineapple, removed the skin, sliced the flesh and successfully eaten the fruit or used it in some food preparation (or else just frozen it in sticks – probably my favourite pineapple preparation). I just wasn’t sure how to articulate clearly and precisely what I was going to do, and without the vocabulary to describe my actions, I found myself paralysed, unable to approach or address the pineapple.

I never used to have difficulty with carrying out processes for which I had no clear verb with which to articulate my actions. On all previous occasions on which I have encountered a pineapple, I have dealt with the thing quickly and without issue. But today I could not bring myself to tackle this particular pineapple. Not until I had a verb which would describe to my satisfaction what I would do.

Stray suggested I should open the pineapple. This would have been fine had the pineapple been sitting in a tin. I can open tins. I can de-lid a tin. I can even, at a push, peel lids from tins. But the pineapple was not a tin. It was a pineapple. It didn’t have a well-defined entrance to open. I wasn’t going to open it. I suggested with some unease that I could peel it, or skin it. Or perhaps core it? This was looking like only a Google fight could resolve the issue.

I fought “open pineapple” and “peel pineapple”. Peel got 3520 hits. Open – 526. Could I shell the thing (156 hits)? Or maybe disembowel it (a big fat zero)? Core pineapple - 3300. Skin pineapple – 201. Dehusk? Zero. It looked like I would have to peel the pineapple. I wasn’t happy with that outcome.

Technology came to the rescue. We have a magic implement for removing edible bits of pineapple from their rind jackets. It’s a screw-type device, with a hollow core, the idea being that having sliced the crown (technical term for the sprouting green bit at the top) off the pineapple, you screw this thing in and through the pineapple, and pull out a pineapple slinky which you then slice and dice as you see fit. The reason I’m describing this two-piece plastic ensemble as magic when it’s clearly founded on very simple physical principles is because it de-disabled me. It abled me. Or should that be re-abled me? Enabled me? Whatever it did to me, I had an answer, a simple description of what I would do. Emboldened with the certainty of a verb, I went into the kitchen to unravel the pineapple.

*With the benefit of hindsight, I should have asked the all-knowing Google for a view on the contest, and would then have known that the pineapple would beat me. In a Google fight between “Pineapple” and “But Why?”, the pineapple won by 13.3 million to 8.8 million.

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