My name is California.
Today, I became a ripe Avocado, and I fear something terrible is about to happen.
My life began as most lives do — as the seed of a large tree neatly planted in a row among thousands of others belonging to a major agricultural corporation. As the tree grew, so did I, until eventually my brown stump of a stem emerged and my body took on its infamously oblong contour.
In the tree, hanging above the world, I learned so much. I learned what people were, and I learned that people could be exploited for cheap labor, especially if they came from the magical sounding place called Centroamérica. Up there on my branch, I learned about the different genera of Avocados. For instance, I’m a Lamb Hass, and I happen to have a cousin who, regrettably, is an organic.
One day, I was just hanging out when I discovered that my life had an expiration date. I was going to die. When one of the exploited laborers harvested me, a searing pain tore through my not-yet-green flesh, and they placed on my skin a small sticker with words on it. Unfortunately, because I couldn’t see below my lumpy paunch, all I could make out was, “Best before.”
However, I didn’t fear the harvest. I didn’t even fear whatever came after “best before.” In fact, getting picked is a good thing! It’s a chance to get away from the family see the world. It means someone, somewhere would like to eat you, lightly salted, peppered and with a spoon, of course — as all Avocados are meant to be consumed, with few exceptions.
If someone wants to eat you, you have value, and a valuable Avocado is a nomadic one. I went from tree to hand, to basket, to hand, to truck, to cold rusty floor of truck, to hand, to cardboard box, to hand, until finally I found myself in a marvelous habitat where it was always daytime called Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s was truly special because it was a home not just for Avocados, but also for other vegetables like broccoli and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
It was there, in the Trader Joe’s habitat, where I filled out my golden years. (For reference, one human day equals just under thirty-five Avocado years.) Over the course of about eighty years, I grew smarter and wiser, and my rind turned a little bit soft. I could sense my time was coming.
Many people would enter the habitat and circle our enclosure glaring first at us and then at a ubiquitous collection of two-dimensional rectangles called Bon Appétit.
Now, these people didn’t look like the exploited laborers who took great care of our families. They had flowing white hair, and skin just as white but sometimes orange, smooth and hairless, and they squeezed us with baseless scrutiny.
On many occasions, they would pick me up close to their faces and force me to take part in a performance of some kind. They’d show off these things called teeth and wild worm-like pieces of flesh called tongues. Perhaps most destructively, they’d raise an object high into the air and, without a word of consent from me, send a flash of white light tearing through the sky to blind me for a few seconds — which of course amounts to several days.
But on the day my “best before” sticker started peeling, I got picked up, squeezed, and taken to a place belonging to one of those white-orange people. Unfortunately, this place was not another Trader Joe’s habitat. It was an Avoca-Doy!, and it was a pop-up preparing for its soft launch in a city named Koreatown.
This morning, I woke up on an icy metal counter next to a pile of Bon Appétits. Curious, I rolled over and managed to lift and peruse one of them. What I witnessed terrified me. I was petrified with fear by a harbinger of the demise of my kindred — this horrible, bestial obscenity called Roasted Fig and Goat Cheese Avocado Toast.
I turned the rectangles as fast as my armless body could. It seemed every rectangle in every single Bon Appétit laid out, step by step, an abominable way to prepare us Avocados. Sun-cured and crumbled over charred brioche buns and saffron sprigs? An Egg? In my pit-hole? I’m an Avocado, dammit, not your fad meant to be turned into mush and eaten as a substitute for butter! We’re to be split, sprinkled with a dash of salt and pepper, eaten with a spoon, or — and this is the only exception — made with stone and pestle into guacamole.
You see, we Avocados have become a commodity, symbolic of a lifestyle we can’t even dream of experiencing, and I’m afraid the only way to put an end to it is a species-wide recall. But that’s only temporary. Something terrible is definitely going to happen once this pop-up opens for two hours.
I fear I am about to be served for sixteen dollars on some rustic rye bread that looks like it hurts to chew — nothing more than a gaudy cover-up. What’s my value if people don’t enjoy me? Here, lying on the cold metal guillotine, all I can do is wish. I wish I could return to my tree. I wish to return to the gentle, exploited care of the laborers, hanging out with my aunties and my cousins, never to become “Roasted Fig and Goat Cheese Avo Toastie — $16.”