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Sticker notes

When it comes to pesky everyday things, produce stickers are tops on my list. It used to be, I bought an apple, an orange, a pear, that's all I got. It didn't come with a little sticker that's hard to read and hard to remove.

And once I remove it, where am I supposed to put it? I stand there, the sticker stuck to my finger, wondering, "Can it go in the garbage? Is it compostable?" I swear they are made of plastic-but what kind? Recycle approved or envir- no-no?

Somehow, they wind up in my hair and on my clothes. Once, I walked three aisles in the grocery store with one stuck to the back of my pants. My sister pointed it out when I passed her in the wine aisle. "Hey barcode buns," she said, "Looks like you sat on a fruit."

Another time, I baked one up in an apple crisp because I forgot to peel it off the apple. As I watched my husband shovel in bites of dessert, he suddenly he stopped.

"Something wrong?" I asked.

"Think I got a seed husk."

Then he reached in to retrieve it, and out came a goo-caked produce sticker. "I bet this is good for a prize later," he said depositing the sticker on the rim of his plate.

Annoying as produce stickers are, my husband and I have turned them into a game. Anytime I wash a piece of produce, I peel off the sticker and stick it where I know he will see it-usually the cookie jar lid. Then, he waits until I'm not looking, and moves the sticker someplace he knows I'll see it-like the spray bottle, bleach bottle or booze bottle. As soon as I find it, I move it to, say, his package of favorite cheese. We can go back and forth with one sticker for a week. Who knew produce came with a toy?

Now that I think about it, maybe the produce powers-that-be are serving us up a little fun through the stickers. After all, consumers toss pumpkins, and spit watermelon seeds. Heck, who hasn't clowned around with a big, blue banana label stuck to their forehead? Seems to me, it'd be nice to expand on the forehead fun, you know, branch out with a little sticker variety.

Yesterday, I took a survey. I peeled off the stickers on all the produce in our refrigerator and found 15 different stickers from four different countries: USA, Canada, Mexico and Chile. Talk about world trade-Chile is over 6000 miles away!

After the survey, I decided to play a joke on my husband. I stuck all the stickers to my forehead, and then waited for him to notice. He passed me five times, looked right at me twice, but never said a word. I didn't know if he noticed, and decided he'd better just stay mum or never noticed at all. When I finally asked him, he said he thought I was trying some new beauty treatment.

Peeling off the stickers, I got the idea to collect them like postage stamps. Does philately include all kinds of stamps or only postage stamps? Anyway, I can't wait to see how many different countries I can come up with.

NASA says one day we'll have a colony on Mars complete with hydroponic produce farms. I wish they'd hurry up and blast off. I want to be around to collect the produce stickers from the Martians we'll be trading with.

-Marie Lemond

Marie Lemond is an essayist living in Washington State. She is a plucky nature lover with a funny bone for daily life. Her work has also appeared in Country Magazine.

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