Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Never answered

Working on her masters degree from Florida State early in our marriage, my wife had to take a class at the main campus in Tallahassee, a good two hour drive from our home at Tyndall AFB.  It was a Saturday morning class, once a week, so we decided it was manageable.  On the other hand, the class met at 8:30 a.m. and the drive involved crossing from Central to Eastern time zone, which pushed the start time back an hour more.  We had to leave our home near Panama City well before sunup and frankly, some mornings we weren't at our sharpest driving past Wewahitchka and Blountstown in "the howling wilderness of northwest Florida".
I was driving one morning while my wife napped in the other seat, and passing the exit for the town of Quincy, I recalled a short story called, "The Quince Tree".  Musing along the two-lane road, I wondered about that tree, which apparently was symbolic and familiar to the (British?) author but a mystery to me.  Knowing my wife's bachelors degree was in biology with a good amount of plant taxonomy in the curriculum, I asked, without introduction and bit too loudly, "WHAT IS QUINCE?"
It was a bit startling, I guess.  I don't recall her answer, either.
To this day, now eighteen years later, whenever one of us erupts into comment or explodes a question into a still room while reading, the other will typically answer in kind, "WHAT IS QUINCE?"  And like the question in Atlas Shrugged, it generally goes unanswered. 

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