What do you say, Carl?

Carl.— Space flights are merely an escape, a fleeing away from oneself, because it is easier to go to Mars or to the moon than it is to penetrate one's own being.

Carl.— I don't know, Carl... A few million years ago there were no humans. Who will be here a few million years hence? In all the 4.6-billion-year history of our planet, nothing much ever left it. But now, tiny unmanned exploratory spacecraft from Earth are moving, glistening and elegant, through the solar system. We have made a preliminary reconnaissance of twenty worlds, among them all of the planets visible to the naked eye, all those wandering nocturnal lights that stirred our ancestors toward understanding and ecstasy. If we survive, our time will be famous for two reasons: that at this dangerous moment of technological adolescence we managed to avoid self-destruction; and because this is the epoch in which we began our journey to the stars.

Bartender.— May I serve the gentlemen another drink? A couple of grapefruit moons perhaps? Did you know, sir, that the grapefruit was first described in 1750 by Griffith Hughes who called it the "forbidden fruit" of Barbados? If you look at the above painting by Luis Quintanilla ---temporarily here on loan by The Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, home to Picasso's "Guernica," as well as to a fine selection of 20th century Spanish contemporary art, sir---the title of the painting is Pomelos, that is grapefruits in Spanish. A relative newcomer to the citrus clan, the grapefruit was originally believed to be a spontaneous sport of the pummelo. James MacFayden, in his Flora of Jamaica, in 1837, separated the grapefruit from the pummelo, giving it the botanical name, Citrus paradisi. About 1948, citrus specialists began to suggest that the grapefruit was not a sport of the pummelo but an accidental hybrid between the pummelo and the orange. The botanical name has been altered to reflect this view, and it is now generally accepted as Citrus X paradisi. When this new fruit was adopted into cultivation and the name grapefruit came into general circulation, American horticulturists viewed that title as so inappropriate that they endeavored to have it dropped in favor of "pomelo". However, it was difficult to avoid confusion with the pummelo, and the name grapefruit prevailed, and is in international use except in Spanish-speaking areas where the fruit is called toronja.

1 comment:

  1. Carl.--I think I'll pass on the grapefruit stuff, thanks. Just another Scotch for me. How about you, Carl?

    Carl.--Yes, I'll have another of the same too.

    Carl.--Interesting fellow, that barkeep. I forgot what we were talking about though.

    Carl.--I do like the painting. I understand the artist's son frequents this club. I wonder if he's in here now.