Males versus females

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In our backyard last weekend, an age-old question was finally answered. Which is better – a male or female?

Without a doubt, hands down, unquestionably, it’s females. Not only better, they’re sweeter, and after taking the same test below, my fellow Neanderthals out there surely will come to the same conclusions.

Now this decision wasn’t made in haste. I’ve been researching the subject as long as I can remember, especially during those seven magical summers spent growing up on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo.

For us kids, there was no fruit associated with summer better than an ice-cold watermelon. But they had to be sweet with ruby red meat inside and chock full of black seeds that, at any moment, could be spit at your brothers or even The Sister. And we didn’t have to go far to pick the best melons. They came right out of my Dad’s garden located at the bottom of our backyard just in front of the leading edge of a swamp.

Every heavy rain caused the swamp to flood. When floodwaters receded, they left behind black silt that could grow most anything — especially the sweetest watermelons on all of Flamingo.

Some farmers in the tri-street area of Flamingo, The Duke of Gloucester, and Scenic Terrace grew something called “seedless” watermelons, but never my dad. Seedless meant you couldn’t run around spitting them at your brothers or The Sister. Compared to my dad’s harvest, a seedless watermelon lacked most of the sweetness and all of the fun.

One day while pulling weeds in his garden, I asked him what made his so sweet. “I only grow female watermelons. They’re round and the sweetest.” Back then I laughed at his answer, but not anymore. Now I know, Dad was right.

But how does one go about choosing a sweet female? Well, Dear Reader, follow these six simple rules and you’ll soon be enjoying the red meat of summertime fun.

First, watermelons do have genders. Choose a female watermelon; they’re the sweetest. A female will be round; the male will be much larger and elongated.

Second, check for an orange or yellow bottom. This “field spot” is where the melon sat on the ground. A creamy yellow/orange field spot reflects that the melon sat resting in the fields for a long time and how sweet it will be.

Third, make sure bees have kissed the melon. The brown webbing on a watermelon indicates how many times the bees touched the flower. The more webbing the more times bees pollenated and the sweeter the melon will be.

Fourth, size does actually matter. We naturally go for the biggest in the grocery store to get our money’s worth, but when it comes to watermelons biggest isn’t the best. The best melons come in average sizes – neither too big nor too small.

The fifth guideline to the sweetest watermelon is the tail where the melon was connected to the vine. A green tail means the melon was picked too soon. A brown dried out tail indicates the melon was allowed longer time to ripen on the vine making it much sweeter.

And finally, whether male or female, elongated, round, sweet or not so sweet, the most important thing to remember about choosing a watermelon is the seeds. Make sure your melon isn’t seedless. Seedless melons were first introduced in the 1940s. By removing all the seeds, farmers removed all of the fun.

Trust me, trying to spit those little white seeds in a “seedless” melon at your brothers doesn’t work. Growing seedless watermelons was something Dad never did in his garden — a backyard garden full of summertime memories and fun from a long, long time ago on an old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]