I once sat next to an old woman on a plane heading to NYC. Maybe she was in her 70’s. I was in the middle seat digging into “The Bell Jar”; she was in the aisle digging into two plastic bags. One bag was full of kiwis. The other full of kiwi peels, peels which she was firing out from her foamy mouth and shooting into the bag. No plastic knife to scrape away the outsides, no, she liked to use her small, sticky, wrinkly hands to shove each kiwi into her mouth, suck it dry of its green meat and syrupy juices, before a furious spit into a sack of furry, tan skins.
This old lady must have had at least forty kiwis in there. It would be a long flight. It was truly disgusting. There were no napkins. Others looked on in horror, in barf-mode, in shock really. I tried not to look at her at all. My cheeks burned red, embarrassed for her, as I attempted to discreetly give off an “I’m not with her!” vibe. A few times we made accidental eye contact though, and she smiled at me. A big smile, teeth spotted with kiwi seeds, her eyes gleaming, saliva dripping off her hands onto the plastic handles.
This might be something one does in secret, but she was who she was, not only when alone but even here in a flight full of grossed-out passengers. And she was happy. And she was free. And it made my heart soften and ripen. Who was I to tell her how to enjoy her fruit?