I was walking into the office yesterday, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I turned the corner and there it was, sitting on my chair.
Waiting. Lingering. Lurking.
"Oh, goody," I said facetiously. "Zucchini."
"Isn't that nice?" said Rachel, the irrepressibly upbeat person who was standing at the copy machine.
"Somebody left zucchini for everyone!"
Did you ever notice how nobody actually gives you zucchini? At least, not in the same way they give you corn or apples or tomatoes.
I mean, if someone wants to give you a few fresh, juicy peaches off their tree, they walk right up and hand them to you. You know — like they are proud. Like they think you'll be pleased. Like they have confidence you're not going to run screaming into the night at the sight of their gift.
But with zucchini, they leave it and skulk away in a cowardly fashion. No note. No calling card. And no fingerprints.
Zucchini is the abandoned orphan of the vegetable kingdom.
"Yeah — nice," I said. "Who should we … thank for this … gift?"
"I don't know," Rachel said. "You know how it is with zucchini."
Of course I do.
Zucchini is the perfect crime. It's not only lethal, but it's absolutely untraceable. That's because nobody actually grows it. At least, not on purpose. It just … happens. Like weeds. Or Chernobyl.
"So what are you going to do with yours?" I asked.
"I'll just do what I always do with zucchini," she said.
"Yeah," I said, knowingly. "Me, too."
By nightfall my zucchini was sleeping with the fishes.
This morning I stepped into my office area gingerly, afraid of what might be there waiting for me. I peeked around the corner. No zucchini. But there was a slice of brown bread on a white napkin sitting on my desk. I eyed it suspiciously. I picked it up. I smelled it. It smelled wonderful. I took a bite. It tasted wonderful.
"Who made the banana bread?" I asked, sinking my teeth into another mouthful.
Rachel confessed. "Only it isn't banana nut bread," she said. "It's zucchini bread."
I stopped chewing. "No way! This couldn't be zucchini. It's so … so …"
"Good?" she offered.
"Yes!" I responded. "It's delicious!" I paused, then added: "But I hate zucchini."
"So do I," Rachel admitted. "And I used to hate it when people gave me zucchini."
"Abandon," I corrected her. "People don't give zucchini; they abandon it. And zucchini isn't something you receive; it's something that happens to you."
"Whatever," she said, then continued: "A few years ago I decided that there wasn't anything I could do to keep … well, to keep zucchini from happening to me. So I found this great recipe for zucchini bread, and now I actually look forward to zucchini season."
I took another bite of bread. Still wonderful. But I couldn't help wondering: "How could anything so tasty come from something so distasteful?"
"It's a fact of life," Rachel said. "You mix effort with creativity and you can turn almost anything around."
"Hey, zucchini happens," she said, handing me another slice of bread. "But the way I see it, when life hands you a zucchini, make zucchini bread!"
Or, in other words, never look an abandoned zucchini in the mouth.
To read more by Joseph B. Walker, please go to www.josephbwalker.com.