I hate oranges.
The Jude loves them, so we keep them around, especially recently. He'll eat clementines by the bucketful and I can pat myself on the back for another day of adequate toddler nutrition with very minimal effort. "Orange! MORE orange!" he calls to me, and stomps his foot. I can't even take offense because I know he's not being purposely demanding he just loves oranges that much, stomp-your-foot much. His devotion is admirable if not deeply misplaced. I overhear myself telling him, "You're going to burn your butthole off, kid, with all these freaking oranges," but he doesn't listen. This is parenthood. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
I press my finger slightly forward and feel my thumb nail sink through the outer layer of the peel. Immediately its essence bubbles out, the flesh sticks under my nail, oil from its pores coats my finger. Worst of all is when juice comes spurting out onto unexpected surfaces like artillery fire. The smell is an act of war– the lingering, oily skin-scent, blossoms forth and infects my nose, consuming it completely with no hope of escape.
Once the smell touches me I can never seem to get rid of it no matter how hard I try, no matter how many times I scrub my hands. It follows me around for the rest of the day, mocking me. I can feel it over my shoulder, ski-mask pulled down tight, waiting for me to keep breathing just so it can tap me on the shoulder and say, "Oh excuse me, Miss? Yes, everything still smells like oranges. Just thought you might need a reminder or forty-thousand." Trust me, orange-ninja, I don't need a reminder.
Orange smell is like a virus in a jungle. Or the dreaded phantom-poop smell of infancy. Or when you looked around and suddenly noticed that a disproportionate number of movie titles are set in Trajan Pro. Or that one thing you saw one time and then it was ALL AROUND YOU. You can't escape it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
When I was growing up my Dad had this industrial-strength soap that he only used after he had been working out in the garage. We kept it tucked underneath the sink in the hall bathroom with the old hand-towels with the tassels that no one liked. It was thick and gloppy and it had little bits of grit in it to help displace oil and grime. Worst of all, it smelled overpoweringly like oranges. It's not even that oranges have such a terrible smell, it just never leaves me alone and I'm a person who likes very much to be left alone.
Still though, I open every orange without comment and dutifully hand it over. The Jude finishes the rest of the work and he's beatifically proud to do it himself, peeling each discarded flake of skin and piling them in a totem stack on his plate before he consumes the tender insides. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
I eat them myself, more than occasionally, so that I too can be pleased about my nutrition and because I'm a glutton for punishment. I hold my breath and peel away each clinging strand of white flesh until the fruit is free of strings and my lungs are close to bursting. I hate their strings, too. It feels akin to hating someone's bones and ligaments.
I hate everything that makes you operate, but man your flesh still tastes alright.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.