Fork Pineapples and Vietnam Veterans This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

September 12, 2012
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I look at the pineapple. What a useless, hideous thing. I pick it up, cupping the golden bulb in my hand, watching with detached interest as the leaves rattle, my hand shaking ever so slightly. What are you supposed to do with something like this? Put it on your mantle when you’re not using it? The centerpiece of your table? I pull one of the leaves from the base, peering at the tiny golden fork at the end, precise lines feathering the handle. I try to think of whether real pineapples have that much detail. I decide they don’t, shake my head, put the fork back. Who would spend so much time and effort to shape something so idiotic, such a failure, especially when reality isn’t even that nice?

I chuckle at the thought of a fork-pineapple-making dreamer, feverishly striping this gold-painted steel. Chuckle, but not for long; joy never lasts long these days.
They sure put a lot of effort into me. Birthed me, raised me, fed me, loved me. Educated me, challenged me, strengthened me. Trained me, depended on me, paid me. Put the best of themselves into me, in the hopes I could do something useful and beautiful; defeat some evil, conquer some jungle.

They made an idealist out of me, giving me more hope than sense. They’d hoped I’d be their golden boy I guess, but I just couldn’t pull it off, could be what they needed but never what they wanted, what I should have been. They had great intentions for me, but at the end of the day, I’m just another guy who went to war and never really came back, another broken mouth to feed. All this disappointment after they put so much work into shaping me into something they could love.

I guess it’s not that weird to make a fork-pineapple after all.

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