Thursday, July 13, 2006

Discussing the Peach

A linguistically savvy reader recently e-mailed me to point out that I have a regrettable tendency to say that something could not be expressed in words when I could more succinctly say that something is ineffable.

And, of course, he has a point, though one could argue that anyone who would think that I would welcome suggestions about how to be succinct had missed a few thousand of my run-on sentences.

"Ineffable" has, in fact, been my favorite word for as long as I've had a favorite word, which, to be honest, has only been for about fifteen years: before that, choosing a favorite seemed a bit unfair to all the other fine words. And while I have no plans whatsoever of moving toward succinct, I am very fond of exact, and when one has a word as good as ineffable at one's command, one ought to use it. I suppose that I have often not used it because I wasn't sure that people know what it means, but, well, anyone who didn't know knows now, so let's go with it.

This past weekend, I was at Costco, and I came across boxes of white peaches. It is, of course, an iffy proposition to buy fruit at a grocery store, even Costco, but these peaches were so handsome in their adorable twelve-to-a-box packaging, that I couldn't resist plopping down nearly nine bucks for a dozen large peaches. They were clearly not quite ripe when I bought them, but two days later I had the first one with my breakfast, and it was delicious. Fully ripe but not yet so juicy as to be dangerous.

Ineffability is an elusive thing. If something's ineffable, you can still talk about it, and you may even be able to talk about it in ways that give people an inkling of the way you feel about it, but it's still very much a through-a-glass-darkly kind of thing. There has to be a level of profundity associated with ineffability.

As it happens, the taste of a peach, however ripe and wonderful, is not quite ineffable. The aroma is an altogether different thing. This morning I took two of the remaining six peaches and put them in a bag to take to the office. I ate one around eleven, and it was juicy and delicious. I let the other one stay in the bag until about half an hour ago, and then I put it to my nose and inhaled and oh my. Ineffable.

But one has to try anyway. Though perhaps not at too much length, because I've been inhaling this peach for the last half hour, and every time I take a whiff, I react in a way that I can only imagine is the way that Humbert Humbert reacted around Lolita. Peaches, so far as I know, are completely legal, but I find myself blushing after I smell this one here. I'm a little afraid that someone's going to catch me: nothing this good can possibly be decent. I should probably go ahead and eat it before I get arrested.


Anonymous lindy said...

Could be intoxicating. It's a stone fruit thing.

7:13 PM  

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