Fruitcake Makes a Versatile, Eternal Gift

Out to Lunch, 1997

The other day someone I know received a bag of uncracked pecans,out to lunch presumably as a gift.

I say “the other day” not because it was literally the day before yesterday, but as a literary device enjoyed by world-class writers to make a more comfortable transition to the subject matter.

I say “presumably” because of the behavior that attended the transfer of nuts: shaking hands, smiles, thanks, and finally the giftee’s grimace when the gifter turned away.

I had to ask him, “Is that a gift, or is it punishment?”

This may seem like the incoherent ranting of one given to fight-picking, like one who walks up to Clint Eastwood and says “Man, those spaghetti westerns are for sissies,” but those of you who are familiar with pecans know what I mean.

Cracked and hulled pecans are a gift. Pecan pie is a gift. Pralines are a gift. A pecan tree is even a gift.

But receiving a bag of uncracked pecans is unmistakably punishment for something. Giving someone a bag of uncracked pecans is like giving a man with an abcessed tooth an ice pick and a power drill and wishing him good luck. It is definitely unadulterated wickedness.

Perhaps I exaggerate, just a little, but this is the gift-giving season, and I don’t want you to commit a gift faux pas this year. For instance, a gift faux pas is like giving me something with a president’s face on it that isn’t flat and green.

I considered evaluating various ideas for your gift giving this season, but decided I only needed to discuss one very versatile gift.

Fruitcake.

The name itself is sufficient to provoke both side-splitting laughter and abject, spine-tingling terror, but the only thing more versatile than fruitcake is duct tape. Notice the similarity of the names.

Of course, there are the usual jokes about whether there is ever any new fruitcake, or if it’s all just recycled from year to year. You know, the fruitcake Aunt Matilda got from Uncle Ferederico is the same fruitcake Antony gave Cleopatra.

Not the same fruitcake recipe. The same fruitcake.

But more interesting than are the uses to which fruitcake is being put.

People in Mobile, coastal Florida, and towns in the Midwest are trying fruitcake instead of sand bags for flood control. Initial testing indicates that fruitcake is much more water-resistant than bags of sand, and even raging hurricanes can’t dislodge the leaden fruit block from position.

Blocks of fruitcake are useful for boat anchors, door stops and wheel chucks, especially to prevent fire engines from rolling during an inferno. Fruitcake can also be hung from the front of tractors and other heavy machinery as ballast.

In a pinch, two fruitcakes can be used as dumbbells in a strong-man competition.

Some enterprising contractors are using unwanted fruitcake (can anything be more redundant than that?) as building material, similar to concrete blocks, citing its advantage over traditional building material. Fruitcake is more durable, is impervious to heat or cold, and is a natural pesticide.

We’re out of time for today, but keep sending in other ideas for fruitcake that don’t involve consumption.

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