The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty:
I minored in crop sciences and management, because Professor Farley, my intro to agronomy teacher, said that I was a natural horticulturist. That I could be the next George Washington Carver if I wanted to be. All I needed to do was apply myself and find my own equivalent to the peanut. A legume of my own, she joked, placing a single phaseolus vulgaris into my palm. But anyone who’d ever been to Tito’s Tacos and tasted a warm cupful of the greasy, creamy, refried frijole slop covered in a solid half-inch of melted cheddar cheese knew the bean had already reached genetic perfection. I remember wondering why George Washington Carver. Why couldn’t I have been the next Gregor Mendel, the next whoever it was that invented the Chia Pet, and even though nobody remembers Captain Kangaroo, the next Mr. Green Jeans? So I chose to specialize in the plant life that had the most cultural relevance to me—watermelon and weed. At best I’m a subsistence farmer, but three or four times a year, I’ll hitch a horse to the wagon and clomp through Dickens, hawking my wares, Mongo Santamaría’s “Watermelon Man” blasting from the boom box. That song pounding in the distance has been known to stop summer league basketball games mid-fast break, end many a ding-dong-ditch, double-Dutch marathon early, and force the women and children waiting at the intersection of Compton and Firestone for the last weekend visitation bus to the L.A. County Jail to make a difficult decision.