On hot summer days I think about my mother. Specifically my mother’s love for tanning oil and her ability to pick the perfect watermelon. “Yeah,” she’d sigh to herself in the produce section. In my flashbacks I’m always crouched over the shopping cart, my right thumb brushing over my phone’s glass screen, my eyes fixated on what my friends were saying or doing while I shivered in the grocery store air conditioning by the large cardboard box that my mother sifted through to find the perfect one. Her selection process showed that not just any gourd would do. She’d smack, spin, and slightly toss them each until she got whatever sign that she was looking for to know she’d picked a winner. That sigh was always confirmation that her mission had been accomplished and that we could move on to the snack aisle to grab a family sized bag of chips to add to our contribution to the table at my aunt’s house.
A few hours later, over the sounds of children splashing, and kompa blasting, she’d temporarily block my sun to ask if I wanted a slice. And as everyone grabs their first bites, we’d hear someone exclaim in a tongue laced with the sounds of the western side of Hispanola that Joyce did it again and how she always picks the best watermelon. I’d watch her raise her own slice over her head as if to toast, lips puckered but still smiling, soaking in the praise. And as she’d settle back into the lounge chair alongside me, shiny and golden, she’d critique her choice aloud. A critique between just us two while still feeling like she was speaking to herself. She’d comment on whether this one was really sweet or extra juicy but always a good choice. She’d be right and turn to me for confirmation that I readily gave. And with an air smooch, we’d return to our sunbathing and I’d wonder if I’d inherit this superpower like I did her almond shaped eyes and the smile that make my father’s cheekbones stand out on my face. “yeah,” she’d sigh for a final time, satisfied.