After Adam and Eve got expelled from the garden, there was no more low-hanging fruit to pick from the Tree. Anyhow, there was no need to pick because they’d already figured out that they weren’t going to live in a perfect world.
In this imperfect world as soon as they touched a branch, berries no longer grew from a bush, and when they picked an orange and placed it on the ground inside a leaf, they could no longer count upon the naranjo to spontaneously peel and dissolve into juice with pulp like from the finest Maui resort. The fact is they were hungry and unless they could figure out a way to fill their stomachs, hunger would come knocking. Work had suddenly become real. Fast forward past Cain and Abel, which for Adam and Eve meant more work.
Did they have a great role model here? It’s not that I’m trying to be critical. Just look at the facts. You might disagree with me, but the Bible isn’t exactly a handbook for new parents. God got ticked off about the whole Tree thing and told A & E where to go. There was nothing pretty about it. Abel keeps sheep, Cain tills the soil until he goes East of Eden, and A & E earn their daily bread with a lot of ritual sacrifice to fill up the down time.
So finally one day Eve sits down on a rock near their three-bedroom, no bath house and looks at her reflection in a pool of water. “Uggh!” She traces her finger across the wrinkles of her brow, cups her breasts with her hands and lets them drop down again. She looks a mess, plus there’s that pain in her right finger joint that might be arthritis and there’s no Tylenol in the medicine cabinet. “Adam,” she says. “We need to talk.”
Adam comes hobbling out of the house. He was snoozing on the bedroom mat and isn’t pleased that Eve has awakened him. Adam has reached the ripe age where he understands that not everything needs to be done immediately. He wishes it hadn’t taken him so long to come to that realization, but nonetheless, he’s glad that he finally gets it. Maybe he wouldn’t have been so quick to eat the apple, at least told Eve that he needed to sleep on it before making a decision. But after 30 years, that’s all water under the big rock, which is where Eve is standing motioning to him. Does he love her? Of course he does.
”What took you so long?”
He bends down and splashes water in his face from the pool. “I was sleeping. What did you want?”
She motions for him to sit down on the rock. “Look at me. Once my face was smooth like polished marble. Now it’s filled with wrinkles.”
“You will always be beautiful to me, Eve.”
“Don’t be a fool,” she says, brushing away his hand from her shoulder. “What I’m trying to say is that I’m tired and I can’t keep going like this. And look at you.” She motions to the body that could once hold its own on Muscle Beach without steroids. “You cough more during the night than you sleep. And you’re always falling asleep during the day.”
“So what are you saying?”
“We should stop working.”
He looks at her dumbfounded. He lowers his voice. “Don’t you remember the Apple hullabaloo?”
“My fingers hurt all the time from weaving and baking. We need to stop.”
Adam is suddenly warming up to Eve’s idea, but is trying not to let it show.
“I can’t keep living like this.” Eve is excited now, splashing her foot in the water. “After Cain and Abel and then Seth, I need a break.” And then she says something truly amazing. “Adam, we both deserve it.”
What a novel idea. Adam pulls himself up from his seat and once again hitches up his pants. “Let’s talk about this in the morning.” Adam is pleased that he’s figured out a way to finish his nap. He lies back down on the mat and falls asleep. Then he dreams of Eve offering him the Apple and thinking, “Why the heck not?” But everything caves in and God starts to hurl thunderbolts and chase them away saying a bunch of mean things just because they had covered themselves with that year’s designer banana leaves. Sure, it was a long time ago, but Adam was having a flashback. God had never actually put a ban on broadening horizons, just the messy stuff about sweat and toil and pain. He woke up refreshed from his nap, threw water on his face, said a few ritual prayers, and sought out Eve’s whereabouts.
She was sitting outside the kitchen running her fingers through her hair. It used to be long and black, but now was white like his. “I need a comb,” she said. “Since I lost my fish bone, it’s always getting knotty.”
He sits down on the ground next to her and takes her hand. “You’re right.”
“After 40 years, you’re agreeing with me?”
“Not about your hair,” he says. “Maybe we can’t stop working because it’s been decreed by you-know-who, but he didn’t say anything about continuing education. Now that’s also a kind kind of work.”
So they went back to school and studied.