The Cast: Erich (Helper of Orange Eating), My Father (Sharer of Knowledge), Myself (Eater of Oranges).
It was no big deal. There was a job to do. It seemed like it would be a fun activity. Then, my dad had to say something. Something that felt ominous.
My mother would often find unique and fascinating ways to entertain guests. This was before internet, so, television and magazines were a couple of the resources she would access to help her in her creativity. And, whenever she came up with a new one… I was usually enlisted to help.
This new idea was a Jell-O filled orange. Yes, you read that correctly. A Jell-O filled orange. Or more specifically: an half of an orange rind—intact, like a bowl—filled with Jell-O (or any other non-namebrand gelatin dessert filling*).
The idea was pretty slick. First, you slice an orange in half (across the middle so the pedicel is on one end—you know: one navel of the navel on each half). Then, you scoop out the orange bits, being careful to get all the citrus out, but not cut too deeply into the rind and make a hole (the pedicel and opposite end are the danger zones). Next, you mix up some Jell-O (or other desired gelatin dessert) and pour into the rind-bowls. Finally, place in the refrigerator to solidify. Once ready, serve for a fun dining dessert. Not much to it really.
Well, my mother had tasked me to make the ‘bowls’. So, naturally, I conscripted Erich to assist in the preparations—he was always willing to assist. (well, that’s what I heard)
As the dinner party requiring Jell-O in Citrus approached, Erich and I had a job to do: Empty oranges. My mother had bought enough almost-grapefruit-sized oranges to get the count she needed, plus a few extra (in case there were technical difficulties). There were two extra oranges. So, there was little room for error. No problem. How hard could it be to scoop out an orange? Not much really. But still more challenging than you would think.
First, Erich and I sliced the oranges into halves. Then we… “What should we do with all the orange guts?”
“Vitamin C is good for you so-o… more should be that much better, right?”
“Yeah. Sounds good to me.”
So, we scooped and ate. Scooped and ate. Scooped and ate. Now, I love oranges. I do. I have a glass of yummy o.j. almost every morning (99.9% of the time). I love ‘em! But after this particular evening… well, let’s just say that after that evening oranges and I went on a break.
There were only a few errors to the point where the rind-bowls were unusable (four). Perfection time! No room for errors now. And as Erich and I were scooping and consuming, my father entered the kitchen. It is a scene etched in my mind: Erich was to my left. Orange-half would-be-bowls set out on the counter to my right. Emptied orange halves on a cookie sheet were sitting in the sink. Enter, my father.
“What are you two doing?” The concerned, quizzical look upon his face was almost hysterical. He had a look of real worry for us upon his face. His right eyebrow raised in a questioning cocked position. Here were two teenage boys, on a Friday night, standing over a kitchen sink shoveling orange pulp in their faces, all while discussing the finer points of the potential social repercussions of poorly crafted Jell-O orange-bowls, or their success—and our part in it.
Okay, when I say it in my head—and then read it—I better understand my dad’s perspective of that night.
“We’re making Jell-O bowls for mom.”
“With oranges!” Erich added.
“What are you doing with all the orange insides?” My father queried, still with a serious look of concern.
“Eating it.” Of course we’re eating it. Vitamin C!
“Vitamin C!” Another Erich addition.
“Can’t overdo that.” I happily added as I put more pulp in my mouth and smiled.
“You know, there comes a point where your body won’t absorb any more vitamin C.” My father’s wisdom sounded cryptic and spooky.
“What happens?” Was my response, my mind overflowing with mild concern for what we may or may not have just done to ourselves.
“Your body gets rid of it.”
“It just does.” And then my father walked out of the room, leaving Erich and I very concerned for what we may or may not have just done to ourselves.
“Oh, well. Too late now.” I don’t recall who said it, but it was said. The other nodded in agreement, and we continued to eat.
The rest of the preparations worked out alright. If I recall correctly, when all was said and done, there were about six orange halves with green Jell-O and six with red. We had one rind-bowl that almost leaked, but we were able to set it just right to keep the Jell-O in it. They looked pretty good. We then cleared a spot in the fridge and placed them to set-up overnight.
As an adult, I have learned the finer points of fiber and what it does for—and to—the digestive system. There is no nutritional value—at all—to fiber. It is healthy for you in that fiber helps move all the stuff your body didn’t digest, out of your body. So, it’s healthy, in that it helps maintain your health. But, it is not nutritional. There is a difference. I have also learned that what my father meant by “Your body gets rid of it.” was not as cryptic as it may have sounded.
See, when your body has absorbed all the vitamin C that it needs, it just lets the excess go in the same manner that it lets everything else go (along with all the extra fiber that excess orange eating will provide you). Usually in one of three ways: Orally, rectally, or urine-ly. And this usually isn’t an issue (if it’s the latter two of the three). I hadn’t been nervous at all, about anything, regarding the eating of all those oranges until my father mentioned what he did. They were just oranges. What was there to worry about? It only took a few hours to find out.
My father had a saying: Loose as a goose. And if you’ve ever given a cat milk and know how that can affect their digestive system… Well, let me just say (without my having to explain it to you in detail) that while nothing terrible occurred, in the end. It should be easy to understand how this whole story worked itself out—in the end.
*The Jell-O corporation has not negotiated a financial settlement with me in regards to promoting their product. But, that would be cool (whip?).