Today George is going to die. Of course, he’s not aware of this as he walks across the promenade for a cheap cup of coffee. No, if George knew he was going to die today he probably would have agreed to go get lunch with the rest of his coworkers; he probably would have said yes when Merrill asked him if he wanted to go dancing with her; he probably would have worn clean underwear. Especially if he knew how he was going to die.
At exactly 12:35 central standard time, George is going to die from a crate of apples. Every Monday morning, the Brazilian Produce Company sends a plane full of fruit to New England. Every Monday Bob makes sure each crate is securely hooked into the cargo section in case the plane’s hatch comes undone. But Bob forgot to double-check the crate because he was trying to check out Lisa’s butt in her Dickies work pants. Now a crate of apples is falling from the sky, slowly hurdling itself towards an unsuspecting George. Really, George can thank Bob’s penis for his death.
Honestly, though, what could be a more ironic death than a comet-like crate of forbidden fruit coming at the Job-like George. Poor George, to you God must seem the cruelest of deities. Though great men like Milton have turned God’s work into epics, the infamy of George’s death will go no further than a newspaper clip. Death is far from poetic.
George has exactly two minutes left before impact arrival. As he sips his coffee George gazes at the young children playing in front of him. He realizes the evanescence of it all and begins to ponder the questions of the world. Who are we? Why are we here? He is sure of only one thing, that his butt will remain on this park bench until he decides otherwise. Yet, even in that respect, George is clueless.
Every artist must successfully master the ‘apple’ before they can move onto more exotic fruit, like the pear. For Jolene, this task seems insurmountable. She’s tried red apples, green apples, pink ladies, even the occasional Honeycrisp, but each and every time, despite the color or size, the true form of the apple eludes her.
“How is it, Jolene,” her teacher begins, “that you can successfully capture a landscape with watercolor and breathe life into charcoal portraits, but during your four years here have yet to master the apple?” She lets the question hang over Jolene’s failed sketch.
Now Jolene is forced to sit in the student workroom, sketching and sketching one single apple until she can render it perfectly.
She starts with a circle. After all, an apple is simply a complex circle. ‘But is it really?’ she wonders to herself. In the art studio light the apple’s body contours in extreme ways. Jolene sees cylinders, spheres, and hexagon like patterns, all neatly coagulated into this one apple. It is this that she sketches.
Next are the shadows, of course. Before one can even think of applying color one must see the shadows at play. Jolene squints and stares deeply at the light and darkness. The apple’s waxy skin reflects even the tiniest of light. Yet, underneath a bright surface, the shadows play. Working hard, Jolene takes her brush and begins to paint what she sees on her canvas. Excited she is sure that this time she has truly completed her assignment.
Hours later her teacher stops by to check on Jolene’s progress. The canvas is a mess of every color—red, ultramarine blue, magenta—and every shape—circles, cubes, and triangles. There is no white space left.
Jolene looks up at her teacher and says, “It’s abstract.”
Josie has her theology final today. She’s not really interested in religion all that much; she needs to take the class to graduate. The night before she stayed up late memorizing important biblical quotes and going over the lecture notes. She’s ready for whatever exam her professor prepared.
Quietly, her professor hands each student a turned over sheet of paper at their desk. “You may begin,” he announces.
Josie turns the paper over and reads the question aloud to herself, “what is the forbidden fruit a symbol of?” She begins to write her answer; the apple is a symbol of the fall of man—she abruptly stops writing. She can’t remember if the forbidden fruit was an apple or not. At the Museum of Fine Arts, she remembers seeing a painting of Eve holding a red apple. She distinctly remembers this because as they viewed the work her friend argued the disadvantages of a religion that sets up a woman as the scapegoat for all the problems of the world.
But when has art been accurate? Where is the line between dogma and doctrine when it comes to the apple? Josie ponders the consequence of the apple of knowledge being not an apple at all. She found the thought to be liberating. Perhaps now all the fruit of the world could be held equally in the eyes of God. If only that could be true with women as well.
“Time’s up!” her professor announces and quickly takes Josie’s paper away before she can change her answer.
Josie’s professor muses over the stack of essay papers he has on his desk. Professor Simmons is glad he gave his class such an easy essay topic. He picks up Josie’s paper and reads her answer. With his red pen he writes, the bible never called it an apple that was Milton.