Summer is upon us, and with it comes the fruit that symoblises summer more than all others: the watermelon.
Perhaps the most familiar scene in supermarket aisles, produce stores and roadside stands around the country right now is the “male tapping a watermelon” scene. A man (it is always a man) will pick up a watermelon and tap it vigorously several times. The more watermelon-savvy types will simultaneously rotate the watermelon expertly in their hands while doing the tapping thing. During the entire time, the man’s head will be slightly cocked sideways and downwards, his ears positioned to pick up the faint sounds emanating from the watermelon. The ritual may repeat itself a few times, with several watermelons, until the man is satisfied that he has chosen the best watermelon on display.
Seasoned fruit sellers, and the typical Israeli male buyer, will swear on the “tapping test” as a reliable method to test the ripeness and sweetness of the watermelon, even if there no evidence to support the validity of this method. It matters not. Generations of men have relied on the tapping method and they’re not about to give up. The tapping ritual has transcended beyond the reach of any empirical or scientific evidence and it is now officially a test of manliness that no self-respecting Israeli male will dare forgo.
I know all this because when I buy a watermelon I always tell the fruit seller I trust him and will take whatever he recommends. The contemptuous, sometimes pitying, looks I get from fellow male shoppers are an indication of the lowly grade I deserve on the manliness scale. I might as well have asked for lychee…