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Those Stickers on the Apples

     The fruits at the grocery store all have those little stickers on them. The apple I was about to eat had one firmly affixed to its skin—the skin I love to eat. I don’t love eating stickers.

     If you’re one of those people who cuts up your fruit and eats it in tidy little pieces, you can throw away the piece with the sticker on it, but I love to sink my teeth into the apple, so the sticker had to go.

     I’ve heard those stickers are edible, but I’ve never acquired a taste for edible stickers. Usually it only takes me two or three minutes to remove one, but today’s sticker was super stubborn. I could not get it off but I wanted that apple, so I kept trying.

     Like a golfer surveying the angles of the slopes surrounding the eighteenth hole, I observed that sticker from every angle. Aha! I spied a tiny gap between the sticker and the apple skin. I sneaked up on it and slid the tip of my finger into the tiny gap. My finger slipped on the slick, shiny skin of the apple.

     I tried again. I charged into that gap with vigor and vim and tore the tiny label right off that apple. Got a little skin with it, too. The apple’s, not mine. I tossed the label into the nearest trash can.

     Not so easy. The sticker stuck to my finger. Five tries later I got it into the trash can — without my finger. That’s when I began to wonder. . . What is this label all about? How come they stick one on every single piece of fruit? I reached into the trash can, pulled out the sticker, smoothed out its wrinkles and stuck it to a sheet of paper. The tiny print said, “Royal Gala Sweet #4173.” They count the apples?

     This was the last of the Royal Gala apples at our house, so I couldn’t look for #4172, nor for #4174, but I had more apples in the refrigerator — a different kind. I checked out the label on one of them. The words “Responsible Choice” were printed next to a tiny red ladybug. Not alive, I hoped. Nope — it was a lifelike drawing. Did this mean that ladybugs like apples? Further down on the label, running across a couple of Blue Mountain peaks were the words, “Stemilt Golden Delicious.” Below the mountain was the number #4021. Ah! Would the other apple be #4022? or #4020?

     No, both apples had the same number, so the number must be the code for the variety of apple, unless it’s the “Packed by employee number” number.  I put the two apples back and went off to enjoy my now sticker-less Royal Gala Sweet #4173.

     I’m thinking someone will come up with a gadget for removing those stickers easily. Or better — they could flavor the stickers so they don’t taste like paper. Caramel for apples, whipped cream for peaches. . . Hey, maybe those stickers should be a little bigger.

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