"What doz dese 'mel-on’! ‘mel-on’! wordz mean? I do not understand dis 'mel-on'" (it helps if you imagine you favorite stereotypical French guy speaking these words). This question was posed by Frederique (I am pretty certain it is spelled Frederick but Frederique looks a bit more “French” – no?) after our soccer game on Saturday.
Frederique is from France via Reunion. Reunion is a small island off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean that still has the abbreviation “Fr” in parenthesis under its name on a map. This indicates that Reunion is part of France (check out “Gibraltar” in the south of Spain – a curious one). It is pretty amazing how thoroughly Europe (and by extension the Neo-Europes) gobbled up the world back in the “hay days” (hey days?) of European exploration and expansion. Most of the world has been returned to their “rightful” owners in the last 50 years or so. The majority of these new countries now face the daunting task of stuffing a variety of people groups, representing a myriad of languages, traditions, economic lifestyles, body modification techniques, cosmetic preferences, fashion do’s and don’ts, shave or not to shave, McDonalds or Kentucky Fried, rice or noodles, Coke? Pepsi? and such, into the boundaries of a modern “nation state” of European design. Not an easy task, which explains why various people sharing a common culture and tradition (nations) are beating the hell out of other people who share a different common culture and tradition in the name of Life, Liberty and the right to pursue what makes them happy as a distinct group. But for some reason – the Europeans (and Neo Europeans) did not relinquish their hold on the islands littering the world’s oceans – especially those between about 23*N and 23*S of the equator – the ones with balmy breezes and white sandy beaches, coconut trees and lazy lagoons, surreal sunsets and bayside bungalows, Club Meds and Hiltons, golf resorts and spa retreats - reasons most likely involving holidays and vacation time shares.
French via Reunion Frederique could not wrap his brain around the implications of the word “mel-on” in context of his situation on the soccer pitch. He realized that “mel-on” was yelled when he was approached by a member of the opposing team who had the intent of dispossessing his control of the ball. But what baffled Frederique, and rightly so, was why we used the name of a fruit to indicate such a situation. We were yelling “man on”. Frederique was hearing “melon” as in cantaloupe and honeydew. So the next time an Italian asks you to “pasta bowl” during a match you’ll know where they’re coming from.