As the traffic idles on the red a man takes the time to place a small paper cup on his dashboard, opens a thermos and pours. Streetgirl watches, thinking it might be espresso. Hasn’t had one of those since Salvatore passed; along-side a shot of ouzo, burning coffee beans on top, accompanied by dessert after dinner in a restaurant of her choice. That was their thing. May he rest in peace. The driver doesn’t seem to notice her standing at the curb. He slides something onto the lid of the cup, a chocolate perhaps. Then, to her surprise, opens his window and offers the drink to her.
“It’s a date!” he declares.
The fruit was soft and sweet and eaten on the spot. The tea black and hot. She placed it on the guard rail and sipped between lights.
Personally, there are few foods that I don’t care for, dates being one, despite the fact that my mother made the best date and nut loaf, (another is liver which makes me gag regardless of how it is cooked). I’ve actually picked the fruit from its cluster, back in 1981 while on an extraordinary four month vacation in Greece, but I preferred the taste of fresh figs. However, the gift of a date is nothing to scoff at. An ancient middle- eastern stable, dozens of variations, textures, tastes, much referred to in the bible, its huge leaves and sturdy branches used in festivals to this day. Presenting one is a gesture of good faith and a sign that the giver is well off. According to Joseph, who is originally from Israel and would eat them and nothing else all day long, if he wasn’t diabetic and had a similar fondness for hummus, the honey in the “land of milk and honey” is the meat of the date and there are those who speculate that it was that and not the tart apple that tempted Eve to take a bite. For certain, if it wasn’t for the abundance of wheat and hardy fruits growing wild centuries ago, to harvest, trade and export, long before petroleum and weapons were currency, countries such as Saudi Arabia would not be as powerful and wealthy as they are today.