The world will be a (much) better place without muscular oranges

Someone has to say it.

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Orange sellers are magicians by another name. They have perfected the sleight of hand and, unlike with typical magic tricks, there’s nothing amusing about it.

Occasionally, when I remember there is something called “balanced diet” and “healthy living”, I buy fruits. But, for someone who is still concerned about spending too much on regular, unavoidable food, I have to be selective with the kind of fruits I buy. Already, bananas, enticing as they may be, cannot be a regular in my menu. In Nigeria (or rather, Abuja), they are to fruits what snails are to meats. In short, oranges are the cheapest option. With N100, you can get as many as five big ones if you know how to haggle.

And so, for a long time, I have inevitably observed that there is a menace in this citrus industry, which has gone unnoticed — an injustice that has gone unremedied. Orange vendors are passing off muscular, inedible balls as fruits!

Because of this, I often stress that I’m only interested in “the one wey get water well well” and tell them to slice the fruits open before I pay. (It is not that I do not have a knife at home, but as you know oranges do not come with warranties.) In spite of this compromise, I still find myself getting outwitted 9 out of 10 times. No kidding.

What the vendor does is start by picking a succulent orange. He’ll slice through it nicely and slowly. Open it widely. Look at your smiling, pleased face. You respond with a nod. He has won your trust. But your problems have just started. Depending on how many you are buying, the next orange or the one after that will be straight from the gym. All the watery pulpiness will have been replaced with pure muscle and fibre. Of course, he will also slice and show you, but only for a split-second. It’s a fucking optical illusion.

Yesterday, I was lucky to get wind of the fraud. “No, no, this one doesn’t have water,” I protested. As if fate was seconding my point of order, the orange dropped to the ground and he replaced it with another one. I left his stand pleased with myself, got home, placed the two oranges and another slice of pineapple I bought in the fridge.

Hours later, close to midnight, when I remembered I had fruits, I excused the first one from the cold chamber and settled to paint the night orange. But the ball was as tough as a cancerous tumour. Trying to squeeze out some juice from it was like attempting to milk a he-goat.

Oranges are supposed to have 85–89 per cent water content for crying out loud. This one had 5–9. (It is even advised that people don’t drink water after having oranges. It could disturb the digestive system’s pH level or cause cramps, they say. But how do you not drink water after eating a light-coloured stone?)

Maybe it was the fridge, I thought. Maybe all the juice had frozen solid from being in the fridge for so long. So I went to assess the second orange, but daaamn! shit was dripping sauce. It certainly wasn’t the fridge. I had just been scammed into buying another dry joke disguised as an orange.

This madness has to stop!

Somebody needs to invent a device that allows the average man on the street to detect the liquid to solid ratio in any orange. As it stands, a natural pair of eyes is not up to the task. Oranges are very much like the proverbial book that cannot be judged by its cover. The vendor I patronised yesterday, for instance, had some of the best-looking oranges in the market. But it nevertheless ended in tears. (Too bad tears don’t have Vitamin C.)

If our engineers and experimental physicists are too busy fighting climate change and midwiving smarter robots, then there’s thankfully another way to end this tragedy.

Boycotts!

We have to boycott all orange sellers, at least refuse to buy their muscular products. By so doing, they will force their farmer-friends to be more considerate when deciding what seeds deserve a self-contain in our soil. Eventually, I am sure, we can drive muscular oranges into mass extinction. And the orange lovers of the world can live happily ever after. Amen?

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