Saturday, May 10, 2008

The taste of a pear

Years ago a character in a mostly forgettable movie asked someone to describe the taste of a pear. I have pondered that question for years, never quite satisfied with the answer I come up with. Color descriptions are obvious. Red is hot or spicy or loud. Blue chills and darkens to ice and loneliness. Green is picnics on just-cut grass. Descriptions of scents are basic -- musky, or flowery, fresh or stale, even just plain bad. Whey, then, is taste so difficult to describe? Why is every unfamiliar meat described with "tastes like chicken"? Perhaps because taste is so personal, so ephemeral. Or maybe because it is sensual -- the only one of the five senses that happens only when you take some object inside yourself. But none of that answers the question: What does a pear taste like?

After far too many years of pondering, I recently had two epiphanies, and I'm wondering which sounds right to you? And if I haven't gotten it, what's
your answer?

A pear tastes like the first kiss with someone who makes your heart race. It starts soft, sweet, and tender, but before you pull away it catches, changes texture and becomes more assertive, perhaps messy, and requires two hands and a laugh as you look upward and stop for a moment to savor before you lean back in for more.

A pear tastes like dawn on a mountain top. You're not quite sure what to expect, and you look out and see glimpses of what's coming and you take a lightly perfumed breath inward. Then suddenly it's light and everywhere you turn there's something new and it's all lovely and you begin recognizing the shapes around you, and each one is delightful and familiar and yet somehow new.

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