Well, it’s finally happened. And it’s about time. I have returned from having my olive moment, and I admit, that means a lot to me. I’ve actually been waiting for today for years, when at last I would be able to enjoy the experience as I’d long hoped for. I knew it would happen eventually, after yet another instance of being forced to consume an olive at the incessant urging of a friend or family member whose momentous turning point is long past, long ago and maybe even far away.
“You’ll love it! I don’t see how you can’t love it! Try it. Come on, try it! Just one.” And I, hoping to put an end to the scene she was creating, I did it. I ate one olive. I snatched it out of her hand and chomped down directly into its flesh, looking her straight in the eyes the entire time.
And it was absolutely delectably delicious. The strong, salty flavour, the bitter aftertaste, even the unusual texture, it all all resonated with me in a way I never thought possible. I’m amazed that I actually had my moment, but let me tell you, my life has really changed since it happened.
I hang out with more interesting people now. We eat olives and blue cheese while laughing over chardonnays from Châteauneuf-du-Pape during intermission at the opera. I’m now a proud member of the exclusively elite olive sub-culture. You may not immediately recognize who we are, but periodically you will see an eclectic group of people wearing the same barely-noticeable ribbon. Some days, it’s us. Our little signal so we know who else belongs, who else is a convert to the lifestyle. I don’t wait in lines anymore. We have our own social network, and the name – well it’s a really clever pun, but I obviously can’t say what it is. I will invite you, not to the club, but to the precursor, as a means to adore the olive as much as I. In a dark room, alone, suck on an olive for thirty seconds, then spit it out. If you are not immediately disgusted, suck on it again. Wait a week. Repeat the initial step. Your palate should now be getting used to the flavour. Do this for as long as necessary. Trust me, it will be worth it. There’s something really special about being an olive lover.
Even the oil of the olive is something to be admired and adored. A symbol of wisdom, fertility, and peace, it has long been considered sacred, by chefs and regulars alike. The Minoan civilization as we know it, it would be nothing if not for the fruit. Some argue that the edible olive has been cultivated for longer than the world has existed, and to that I do not disagree.
[Editor’s note: This break in the story is what I call The Inter(ad)mission, named after the author, scribbling furiously in the midst of this writing, paused, nostalgically, then got suddenly serious and ashamed.]
God, I wish that story was true. I really do. I would give anything if that was actually me who lived, who’s living that life after eating an olive. But it wasn’t, and it’s not. It is actually my brother, my own brother, my younger self’s forced best friend. Neither of us liked olives, ever. We tried them together, on more than one occasion. We’ve discussed the fruit’s flaws at length, but on that day, he left me behind. He pretended, he must have been pretending, that he truly savoured that olive. I was in the room when he bit down on the olive that changed his life. And I’m the only one who could see it was a lie. To this day he contests that he was being truthful in his post-olive feelings, but I can’t believe it.
You can’t. You just can’t enjoy an olive that gets forced into you, with onlookers and tension in the room as it was that day. You can only have your moment on your own time, if it comes at all. By yourself, on a date with a woman you met earlier that day, in the south of Naples on a well-lit hill. Having recently undergone a difficult divorce, you would have recently decided that maybe you’re meant to be alone, connecting to another human now seeming out of reach. This woman, Swiss but speaking near-perfect English, leaves the table to powder her nose, and there’s no denying how beautiful she is, how she reactivates a feeling long lost within you, reminding yourself you still have societal worth and love to give. After eating a sliver of local camembert, you scour the table for something else to catch your eye. You can hear the beach. Your eyes land at the plate of mixed green and brown and purple and black olives that she ordered. The light from above hits one of them square in the pit, just right right, and instinctively you sit up straight, strong. You peer around the room, taking it all in, unable to hide how much you’re enjoying this sensation. You look down again, at the olive, the elusive olive, which you pick up and study. You bite through it, like a whale devouring a single plankton. As it rests on your tongue, you suck on it for some time, letting the olive juice flow with your saliva as it coats your mouth. You raise an eyebrow and confusion washes over you, even as you know nobody else is watching. You crunch down hard, dissecting it with your teeth, while shards of olive bounce around your gums, tongue and teeth. The ideal combination of salt and love. The remnants glide down your throat, the intense flavour coating every taste bud within. As she returns to the table smiling, as the last bit of fruit disappears from this world forever, you know you are a changed man, a real man, one who has finally experienced an olive moment.