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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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Rotten fruit from a pretty tree.

After Henry and Scott leave for Henry’s school (Henry deigning to leave me with a distracted “I, uh, love you too” and a limp wave as he is wheeled down the stairs) I head out with Charlie. It’s overcast and damp from last night’s rain. The wind is thrashing the trees around, the leaves are swirling all over the sidewalk, and Charlie is leaping and snapping at them. It’s perfect.

We go for a longer walk than we usually do, and at each block Charlie looks up at me as if to say, “We…we’re not heading back? We’re still going? Are you shitting me?” and then he resumes his cavorting and peeing.

The ginkgo trees have begun dropping their uniquely nasty fruits all over the sidewalks. I don’t know if these trees are everywhere, but if you’re not familiar with them—take it from me. The fruit smells like puke. Charlie won’t even pee on it, that’s how bad it is.

Across the street, there’s a man in a business suit wearing latex gloves and holding a large bag. He’s carefully picking the fruits off of a car and dropping them into a bag. This strikes me as reasonable—would you want your car smelling like vomit?—but then I see him continuing his work on another car. As we walk, I can’t help but look back, and he’s moved onto a third.

Either he’s the most thoughtful neighbor ever, or that is going to be one indescribably foul pie.

UPDATE!: Apparently the ginkgo fruit is used in various Asian delicacies. Carry on, sir!

Reader Comments (49)

I was in Singapore a couple years ago and they have a fruit that tastes exactly like someone has crapped and vomited into your mouth simultaneously. And the locals know it - they say it's an acquired taste. And they love to test it out on foreigners. Like me. Twice.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commentermignon

I do believe the above poster is referring to Durian, a fruit so smelly that it is forbidden to consume in public in some places.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
SEND THIS MAN TO MY HOUSE! I have a ginkgo in my front yard, and yes, lord, the fruit smells to high heaven. I keep the tree mostly because right now the leaves are turning a golden yellow and the tree is beautiful. Then, when the leaves fall, there's a golden halo around the trunk.

I must say that these ginkgo fruit-loving people have to work hard, as the seed is almost as big as the fruit - i.e. very little flesh. They make a crunchy sound when you step on them, though I have to then wash my shoes to keep the nastyness from coming inside.

The fruit do their job increadably well, too. Every spring I have a ton of little gingkos growing under the big one.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBob
those trees are so so lovely, but good god the fruits stick! they line my walk to the park in our neighborhood. lucky for me the big drop happened a few weeks back and all that remains are dried up smudges on the sidewalk. good luck.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commentertraci
i meant "stink", not "stick"... i guess i was so overwhelmed by the thought of that smell i fell apart...anyway, you get it.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commentertraci
I am SO bookmarking this for the next time I want to bitch about all the pine needles in my yard....
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMir
I am jealous - here in Kansas City, we must go to ethnic grocery stores to view such exoticness. Lucky New Yorkers! :-)
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commentercagey
I'm not sure if it's Ginkgos, but there is something similar blanketing Columbia, South Carolina. I literally held my breath as I walked by those bastards. Gross.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Never underestimate the delectability of a steaming plate of Puke Chow Fun.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLOD
When I first read your title, I thought you were making a derogatory reference to your son.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMonoCerdo
You learn something new every day:Everything below is quoted from there is a lot more info there.)

Female plants do not produce cones. Two ovules are formed at the end of a stalk, and after pollination, one or both develop into seeds. The seed is 1.5-2 cm long. Its outer layer (the sarcotesta) is light yellow-brown, soft, and fruit-like. It is plum-like and attractive, but contains butanoic acid and thus smells like rancid butter (which contains the same chemical).The seed is edible after removing the ovary pulp, shelling, and after being cooked. An overdose of the fruit could cause poisoning because the fruit produces hydrogen cyanide as a side product. It is reported that a dozen raw ginkgo fruits are toxic enough to kill a small child, though this has yet to be proven.In some areas, most intentionally planted trees are male stock grafted onto roots propagated from seed, because the male trees will not produce the malodorous fruits (although the seeds within are quite tasty, and a delicacy in Asia).
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulia R.
P.U. Beware the bicycle wheel stroller during the fall in Park Slope. I walked around my apartment for days wondering what the hell was stinking up the joint. All those lovely ginko fruits stuck up in the treads were a bitch to clean.

Thanks for the memoreeee...
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commentermadge
Send him my way! We have them in Philadelphia and I inevitably step in them while walking the dogs, bring them in the house and think, "Hmm, what's that smell? Did I step in dog sh**?" EVERY FALL I do this. One of these years I'll remember and just CROSS THE STREET!
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterE
Here in Philly, you see older asian women picking up the fruit all the time. They wash the pulp off while wearing gloves, then take 'em home and bake them. I bought some once in China Town, and they are damn tasty, I must say.

Here's a couple bizarre tidbits about Ginko trees: the ones planted in the US were originally all male--but after growing for about fifty years, some of the trees actually CHANGED THEIR SEX SO THEY COULD BEAR FRUIT. Wild, huh?

Plus you know, of course, that they are from a species that originally went extinct, but seeds were found somewhere and the tree revived. I bet you're happy about that.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterCecily
Flashback to my childhood - my grandparents' neighbor had a gingko tree, and I still remember that stink.

As a child, I thought that boxwood smelled bad, but now I like it. I guess it's like beer - the taste grows on you.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterEulallia
Ugh--I used to live on a street lined with Ginkgos and it was SO FOUL...LOL I was just blogging about that neighborhood and looking back I can't believe I ever lived there...normally you could smell a fair bit of puke on the street from the local winos, but Ginkgo season made that seem like a pleasant bouquet by comparison. I dislike the smell of Bradford Pears in bloom almost as much, though--won't say what it smells like, but ewwww.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMFA Mama
yeah ginkgo delicacy? sounds great. No, it doesn't.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterCandice
I, too, thought the title was some reference to Henry/Alice! Not that you would ever say that. But it've been funny if you did...
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commentermamabird
Squashed pukey-smelling ginko fruit is one of my strongest olfactory memories of living in the slope. Just. Nasty.

Amazing how that stench on every sidewalk can ruin a perfectly happy autumn walk. Can't say I miss that.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkelly
maybe.but now that I have read this I believe it won't be in any Asian delicacies I order.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterblackbird
I went to college in Iowa City. They brought gingko trees in from Asia. Or somewhere. And they planted them all over campus.

Let me repeat that. They purposely imported trees with fruit that smell like dogshit vomit.

All the stereotypes about Iowans are true. I am one, and the gingko trees, they make me ashamed of my ancestors.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy
"Here's a couple bizarre tidbits about Ginko trees: the ones planted in the US were originally all male--but after growing for about fifty years, some of the trees actually CHANGED THEIR SEX SO THEY COULD BEAR FRUIT."

Cecily - that's what the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park did and look how well that turned out. Beware, world! The ginkos will soon have you upside down in your suv while trying to eat your head!
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterChristy
The title of the post was a paraphrased reference. "Eat rotten fruit from a shitty tree"? No one? No one knows it?
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteralice
OK, I had two thoughts when I first read about the man picking up the stinkfruit off all the cars:1. He is a very enterprising sort, and has found a niche occupation in performing a service no one else wants to, like a professional pooper-scooper.2. He is looking to poisong someone.

There may be something wrong with me.
November 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

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