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The Clementine Conundrum This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

I was excited when I passed my state boards to become an EMT. I was delighted when I earned my first award at a forensics competition. And I was thrilled when I placed at my first national rowing regatta. But I was truly ecstatic when I thought I had cracked the code. The algorithm of all algorithms. The formula that would potentially alter my dining experience for the rest of my (hopefully) fruitful existence. I thought I had determined the exact external indicators for a seedless clementine.

“Why would anybody care?” you might ask. And I would reply, “Have you ever had lunch with someone who was eating a seeded clementine orange? Did you not think it was disgusting when every couple of seconds they had to spit out seeds?” It's basically the social equivalent of gagging at the table.

Something had to be done. So, I ate clementines like it was my job (at home, of course), taking careful note of the peel thickness, color, texture, smell, and “button” size. After a couple of weeks, I thought I had it. The characteristics of a seeded clementine, so that when I packed my lunch in the morning, I could choose a clementine that would allow me eat without fear of gagging on seeds.

I enjoyed seedless clementines at lunch for a couple of weeks, and merely laughed at others trying to subtly spit seeds into their napkins. Alas, eventually my algorithm failed. One sunny Tuesday, I sat down for lunch, peeled my clementine, placed a segment into my mouth, and was greeted with a mouthful of seeds. Somewhere, the clementine gods are laughing at me. But, mark my words, clementine gods: I will conquer you. Someday I will find the momentous algorithm, and I will once again enjoy clementines at the lunch table.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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