Re: Balancing Imbalance
Dropbears. Fucking dropbears. I'll never forget dropbears. It was a few weeks after I finished my graduate work and my first big time paper dealing with reducing cycle times in molds for casting certain titanium alloys had been published. In a few months I was going to start work on a major project at ORNL and the company where I did my internship had just bought me a fancy new car for some things I had figured out while I was with them.
Fuck yeah right? Young, fairly well liked, swanky new car, a little overdressed, but hey, I was young. But I was a badass, in my own mind anyway. I had met this pretty girl from New Zealand and it was going well and she starts telling me about New Zealand and Australia.
This bit is really important! She tells me about Dropbears, I'm really impressed, I had never heard of these things! How could that be? Later that evening I decided I would look them up on the web. But that hadn't been invented yet. So I dialed up some online places and tracked down some Australians who confirmed the Dropbear was real, and dangerous, if a bit overrated.
Few days later I'm talking with the girl again and tell her what I've discovered. She said about the same as the others, but added that lemons were their favorite, non-meat, food and the Australian lemon industry had been just devastated by the Dropbear. They had discovered a solution a long, long time ago. It seems the Dropbears wouldn't eat lemons until they were fully ripened, so Australia started harvesting and exporting the lemons and they would ripen in transit.
Anyway, the unripe lemons were a big global success and instead of calling them unripe lemons, they called them limes. It's still that way today, limes are just unripe lemons.
Man, I believed that shit for years. A really, really long fucking time. The issue had come up occasionally, and the people I knew would just look at me strangely and carry on. They thought I had to be joking. It was just too stupid to be true. It had to be at least 11-12 years before somebody told me the truth. If it wasn't such an odd thing I'm sure somebody would have told me sooner, but Dropbears and their impact on Australian fruit markets just doesn't come up often.
By this time I was a recognizable person in my field and a bunch of us were in San Jose and were going to be working with some senior engineers from Intel and Motorola, kind of a big deal. Still young, suits and ties were still cool fancy drinks with smart people, it was good.
The company I worked for had recently hired this young lady and this was her first job after graduating college, her first airplane trip had been getting to San Jose and they've sent her along with us for a few months. We're talking and the lime thing comes up. For the rest of my life I will never see such a confused look on someone's face. She just looks at me for a moment then gets up and leaves. In a few minutes our waiter brings me a note written on a napkin and it's this young lady requesting I meet her in the lobby.
The poor thing was so scared. She didn't want to make me look stupid, but she also didn't want me to make her look stupid by association. She handled it well. She explained it all to me and we went to the hotel library and she proved I was stupid with an encyclopedia.
Up until that very moment I had never been speechless. Ever. I started trying to remember who all I had told this to. I was really freaked out. I'm wrong sometimes, a lot of times really, but never this wrong. Shortly after I sent an 'electronic mail' message to the girl from New Zealand who had beguiled me. Since that day, every Christmas, and every year for my birthday, I receive a lime from her as a gift. Without fail, a single lime. She went on to become quite famous and maybe 12-15 years ago I also discovered that in the case where she keeps pictures of herself with well known people there is a lime in there with no name or explanation, just a single lime.