Figs make us feel funny.
Figs make us feel funny. bk

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There's a very big, very old fig tree growing in the backyard of my apartment building, and every summer around this time they ripen into big green sugarballs—the heat and light of this summer has made them especially sweet—and it's a race between us, the birds, and the squirrels to see who can eat them all first. I've been bringing them into the office in an effort to help the humans win.

Fresh figs always remind me of an afternoon during my high-school years when I worked as a research assistant and cut-rate landscaper for a historian and memoirist I still remember very, very fondly. (He spent part of his youth in India, where he was the kid of some missionaries, and has spent most of his writing career researching Indian independence and the rise of the Civil Rights movement in the American South.) His family introduced me to Randy Newman and the Upanishads, and hired me to transcribe century-old letters exhumed from black Southern churches in between stints of weeding the garden. They were smart, freethinking cultural heroes to my 15-year-old self.

I also happened to have a catastrophic crush on their daughter—a crush so bad, I would blush in front of her parents with almost no provocation.

One summer afternoon, while working near their fig tree, the matriarch of the family encouraged me to pick one and bite into it. "Looks like a pudendum, doesn't it?" she said.

"A what?" I asked.

"Vaginal," she said. "Are you blushing?"

In retrospect, I realize she was just fucking with me, but at the time it felt like ego torture. Then her daughter walked past. I nearly died.

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Ever since then, I've thought of figs as feminine. But, as we ate some of my backyard figs this afternoon, one of my coworkers argued they're actually quite testicular (at which point, another staffer stopped eating hers and threw it away). Someone else suggested that their commingling of masculinity and femininity made them gender-transcendent.

Obviously, a poll is in order. As always, it is legally binding.

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