Anyone who knows me, either through reading this blog or from meeting me in the scary wastelands of the real world, figures out very quickly that I’m rather eccentric. I don’t help matters much with the odd comments I make and the bizarre things I do. In particular, one strange attachment I’ve made has baffled many people over the years. It’s a gift I give whenever an occasion arises, the peculiar present of a pineapple.
Of all the questions I get regularly asked like; ‘How do you keep your hair so pretty?’ ‘Can I wear your hat?’ and ‘What’s it like in your head’, my favourite question is always.
Harmless and hilarious, if mostly to myself, it’s become such an ingrained part of my life that it’s become a tagline for introductions. ‘…and this is Cameron, he has a thing for pineapples.’ It sounds kinkier that way but I assure you it’s all very innocent.
When it comes to any gift giving occasion it’s more than likely that I’ll be giving a pineapple. Be it a Birthday or Christmas gift, there’s usually a pineapple involved somewhere. So much so it’s almost became my own trademark sign of affection; if you’ve never received a pineapple from me it means I don’t really like you. If there was ever proof needed that I’m not exactly normal, it’s more than clear with the pineapple of it all. Originally just a playful joke present to my sister, it’s grown into an elaborate game to torment those I care for and in some cases, an excuse to get a little creative. At first it’s unexpected; everyone has a good laugh at the random absurdity and move on. After a few years it’s come to be a little tired and worn but that certainly hasn’t deterred me. I just have to try harder. I fully admit it’s a peculiar choice and sadly it’s not something I dreamt up. It would be a better story if I did, instead I rediscovered or more appropriately ‘stole’ this idea and have been using it to entertain myself for a good many years.
The concept of giving the gift of a pineapple has actually been around for a rather long time. Pineapples themselves have been used the world over as a symbol of welcoming and friendliness. Sculptures, paintings or the live fruit itself would be hung or displayed to indicate hospitality that the place you were visiting was warm and friendly to all. The practice of giving a pineapple as a housewarming gift would begin in the 1500s to promote the concept of welcoming. It was bastardised in the wealthier of circles as a symbol of extravagance. A house that’s gifted with a pineapple is one of luxury. I suppose it still has the same friendly meaning, but only if you’re part of that upper class elite. Today the tradition still exists but is very much unheard of, at least no-one who I speak to seems to know about it and I’ve got a rather large sample size. Saying that I live in Scotland and pineapple is a fruit so most people are just shocked that I’ve touched one. They’d faint if I mentioned I ate them too. Friendliness, graciousness, welcoming, hospitality; these are all great traditional aspects to attributing to gifting a pineapple. Sadly my attachment is nothing as elegant; I was drawn in by the hilarity of seeing it on a television show.
I was first introduced to the idea of giving a pineapple as a gift by the acclaimed CW television series ‘Psych’. The show became known amongst its fans for its hidden pineapple references within each show but the first reference I saw within the first season was as a housewarming gift. I became instantly enchanted by the idea. It was random, utterly out of place and made me laugh. As ‘Psych’ became more and more associated with the pineapple, a reference would be hidden in every episode, I never forgot that first one as a gift. By the time I’d binge watched the first three seasons I had pineapples on the brain and ended up doing some basic Google research which pushed my comical interest into ‘I must try this’ territory. Copying a television show is a little uninspired but now I’d found out that there was a tradition that exists. It legitimised the ideas I had in my head of how I’d gift pineapples. If anyone asked I could say “Yeah, it was from that TV show, but did you know it was big deal a couple hundred years ago”, essentially making veiled claims that you bought the recipient an antique.
The humble beginnings of my pineapple based mischief were mostly aimed at my younger sister. For her birthday she’d receive a card perched against a fresh pineapple, while her actual gift was in her bedroom. At first the real gift was on her bed, easy to find but to keep things interesting I’d sometimes hide it under the bed. Cruel yes but hilarious. My mother received similar treatment and my father, who at one point was responsible to making the women of the house smoothies for work, was once gifted a pineapple with a special ‘pineapple cutter’. Everyone appeared to tolerate the humour while I was thoroughly entertained with my attempt at being whimsical. To date they’ve never been disappointed to receive a pineapple, (unless of course you ask my sister who may be a little irritated considering she’s received more than anyone) nor have they been over enthusiastic but it’s become somewhat of a tradition.
My absurd antics would continue and go beyond immediate family as on one occasion my brothers’ girlfriend was brought into the madness. My reputation for handing out pineapples had become so well established that there was no escaping it. Everyone expected the pineapple to make a showing and on one particular Christmas it made a rather melancholy one I wasn’t even present for. Whilst everyone was enjoying their lazy Christmas Day and I was working, some swapping of gifts was done. As I wouldn’t be home till after 10pm I wouldn’t get the chance to see anyone so everything from me was handed out. When it came to my brothers’ girlfriend she was given an oddly shaped poorly wrapped gift and as you might expect wondered aloud what it was. My father, with a dry wit much like my own, would say “it’s probably a pineapple”. It wasn’t. I’m not sure what the gift was now as this was quite a few years ago but upon opening the gift and discovering that there was no pineapple, she was quite disappointed. Of course this was all told to me second hand so I’ve no idea if it actually happened, I just happen to find the story rather cute.
My peculiar pineapple plans even made their way into the workplace. For a Secret Santa in an old job I included a pineapple in the gifts given. I had became quite friendly with that person over the course of my time at that job and had the honour of being dubbed ‘pineapples’ in his phones contact list after this. According to him he’d refer to me as ‘pineapples’ to his wife when telling her about his day till she demanded he stop as it sounded like an insult. I didn’t mind it of course, he was a friend and this was my eccentric way of showing that, I think that was his way of telling me it was appreciated.
Of course my sister would never escape the torment of the pineapple. I began putting a pineapple in a box, wrapping the box and then giving it to her as part of a set of individually wrapped gifts. Saving the biggest box for last she’d get that cruel deflation finding nothing but a pineapple. Crueller still on one occasion all she would receive is the box with the pineapple and say nothing. This worked even better as planned. I thought she’d just laugh and tell me she wants her ‘real present’. She didn’t. She made a fake thank you and waited for me to tell her it was all a joke and the real gift is in her room. I didn’t. Ten minutes passed before the petulant play scream of “where’s my real present” rang through the room. It was more than I could ask for! I’d escalate this again by getting a massive box and decorating it in beautiful wrapping paper and fixing a huge bow to it. All that would be inside was one single pineapple and some crumpled newspaper. So excited was she by the impressive looking box the, whole thought that this may be another pineapple left her completely until she finally got to unwrap and the smile dropped from her face. “Its a pineapple isn’t it?” Yes it was. To annoy her further the following year I got a box the exact same size but wrapped it in pineapple wrapping paper and filled it with real gifts. She didn’t trust it at first. No fresh pineapples showed up that year but it was still wonderfully entertaining, with just the simple use of wrapping paper.
In recent years I’ve moved away from the tormenting side and gotten a little more creative. Going back to the whole idea of housewarming I started to plan out ideas to use the pineapple as a centre piece. Keeping my eccentric flair alive but making the gift more eye catching and more than just me entertaining myself. My last pineapple gift took my exotic eccentricity to extremes when I gifted the entire team of people I worked with a very special pineapple of their own. That however is a much larger story I’ll get into on another post. Its something thats evolved with me and become very much a part of how I express myself. I’ve started to receive photographs from family members when they find pineapple based art when they’ve been to a restaurant or out shopping. A pineapple has an awing factor, possibly due to its unusual look. It’s likely the most artistic looking fruit and always attracts attention. As fruits go they are by far the prettiest looking and the most unexpected to receive. If you’re going to give the gift of random pieces of fruit at least make it an interesting fruit. You’re either going to make the recipient laugh or end up laughing themselves as their face contorts in confusion trying to figure out how mad you are. In a world of banal stereotypes, the cliché apples and oranges are hardly very interesting to look at and wouldn’t be likely to get much of a reaction. Saying all that, the fact I’ve been gifting pineapples for so long has made my own actions cliché and a little derivative.
When I think about it and the way I life my life it’s rather odd I even started this in the first place. Being as introverted and socially challenged, it’s rather attention seeking. The juxtaposed desire not to be noticed but doing something so peculiar it defies anyone not to notice has always confused me. Given how I generally act the pineapple actually makes sense, I always seem to get myself into situations where I do or say something that utterly baffles. Quiet and deep in thought, happy to watch and listen till something important springs to mind but when spoken turns out to be quite mad. When in the quiet lull of a conversation about gender politics the voice in the corner randomly says, “Curvy women are more intelligent than skinny women and will have smarter children” the pineapple starts to make a lot of sense.
So, why pineapples you ask. Well, there’s nothing that brings a smile to my face more than the baffled confusion of a new recipient or the frustrated annoyance of my unwilling ‘regular subscribers’ as I continue to torment friends and family with my exotic eccentricity. It’s a creative outlet for all the madness in this head of mine and without thinking about it too much, I might have a lot in common with a pineapple. We both stand out from the norm after all.