The gift of a memorable zucchini

When I was 17, a woman gave me a zucchini. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Why are you laughing? What’s so funny about a zucchini? Zucchini jokes in the summer are like fruitcake jokes at Christmas:

“Did you hear the one about the lady who grew the world’s largest zucchini? It was so big, it stuck out the hatch and she couldn’t lock the car. Then she stopped for some things at the drug store, and when she came back to her car, something terrible had happened. Somebody had left her the second-largest zucchini, too!”

Pumpkins, yellow squash, sweet potatoes — they all produce prodigious amounts, leading gardeners to force free vegetables on their friends. Even cucumbers, which look just as goofy, are not as maligned as zukes.

The problem with zucchini is it grows from a tiny edible blossom to a 10-pound lump of bland green flesh in about 24 hours. You have to watch it carefully, to make sure it doesn’t take over your garden patch, and possibly, the entire world. There’s an idea there…keep reading.

Barry’s grandfather, Percy, had a younger brother who was famous for his practical jokes. In hindsight, they were pretty funny, but they nearly started several feuds. Milton knew that Percy was extremely particular about his pickle patch, and that he always picked the pickles when they were tiny and would bring the greatest price on the market. So one day, Milton snuck in a large zucchini and tucked it amongst the pickle plants. It was worth it, just to see the look on Percy’s face.

When I got out of high school, I had a job going door-to-door collecting signatures and money for a grassroots lobbying group. After talking the person into signing the petition, usually a little guilt was enough to capture a donation as well. One woman, in a small town in Ohio, signed the sheet, and then she said, “Wait here, I’ll be right back.” Usually, that meant the person was going to find their wallet or piggy bank. I waited patiently.

To my surprise, she returned with a gigantic zucchini. “I don’t have any money, but please take this,” she said.

I was just a kid. I didn’t realize I’d been had. I thought she was giving me something of value. I couldn’t figure out why my supervisor and all my coworkers fell over laughing when I returned with this huge green log under my arm.

That night, my collection was dreadfully low, because after the zucchini, I couldn’t get any donations. I figured out that I couldn’t go door-to-door with a zucchini and a clipboard; at each house, I had to stash it in the bushes before ringing the bell. I mean, what would you do if a stranger showed up at your door, at the height of summer, with a huge zucchini under her arm? You certainly wouldn’t open it!

In hindsight, I wonder if it was a diabolical plan on the part of the zucchini-grower. Maybe she really despised my cause, but pretended to support it. She knew that anyone carrying a zucchini would be suspect to the rest of the neighborhood.

The more I think about her perfect strategy, the more I think I’m on to something. This summer, our military can foist zucchini on our enemies, whose neighbors will have nothing to do with them, leading to their eventual downfall. It’s a great way to get rid of unwanted zucchini, and it solves the problems of world hunger and world peace. We can even can print zucchini recipes on pieces of paper and drop them from airplanes over war zones. Even better, we can print zucchini jokes and drop them, too.

We could also drop the zucchinis themselves from the airplanes, but in order for it to be peaceful, we’d have to come up with little parachutes for them. Otherwise, people might mistake them for green bombs. And being hit with a falling zucchini could actually hurt.

If you think this is a great idea, then it’s time to start planning your “Victory Garden” now. World peace is going to require a lot of zucchini, and it’s up to us to provide it. Go ahead and plant lots of seeds, and then let’s sit back and watch the zucchinis take over the world.
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For zucchini recipes, please see the mepsnbarry.com recipe page.

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