Enter Carly Fiorina, solo, dressed impeccably in a red silk suit with dragons front and back. She is carrying a luncheon plate upon which perches a single grapefruit, halved. She eats, using a grapefruit spoon, as only a CEO schooled at Hewlitt-Packard business lunches could eat.
Ms. Fiorina [staring intently into the lights]: “The grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi) is a subtropical citrus tree known for its sour to semi-sweet fruit. Grapefruit is a hybrid originating in Barbados as an accidental cross between two introduced species, sweet orange (C. sinesis) and pomelo or shaddock (C. grandis), both of which were introduced from Asia in the seventeenth century. When found, it was named the ‘forbidden fruit’; and it has also been misidentified with the pomelo.”
Rick Perry [offstage, sotto voce]: Carly eats healthier than Hilary!
Blond moderator [to her assistants]: He meant Michelle, right?
Male Moderator Who Is Not Simon Cowell [shakes head sadly]: Typical Perry gaffe.
Exit Carly Fiorina. Enter ten men in ill-fitting dark suits. They shuffle nervously onstage, like subordinate characters from Robin and the Seven Hoods, or possibly Kiss Me Kate. Each one holds a grapefruit.
Blond mod. [cheerful]: Alright, gentlemen. On your marks, get set, go!
The men stare uncomfortably out at the lights.
Blond mod. [laughing nervously]: Just kidding, right? But tonight’s a big one for all of you. Too bad Carly Fiorina couldn’t be here.
Everyone laughs and relaxes a little, the moderators included.
Other Male Moderator Who Is Not Simon Cowell: Alright then. First up, Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, will you show us how to eat a grapefruit?
Donald Trump takes out a large saber and slashes the grapefruit in half on stage. There are gasps of horror and admiration from the audience. He puts one half into his mouth and chews.
Blond mod.: Are you sure about that, Mr. Trump?
1 Male mod.: Is that your final answer?
Trump nods, emphatically.
Donald Trump [swallowing]: Not only that, but I would say also that my supporters are very passionate people, and that’s because I was the first person on this stage to bring up the issue of undocumented citrus growers, and citrus pickers, and undocumented citrus in general. And I think most Americans would agree with me that it’s high time we had someone who could deal with all this illegality, which I will do.
Blond mod.: How will you do that, Mr. Trump?
Trump: First, I will get all the grapefruits. Then I will eat them.
Disbelief covers the moderators’ faces.
Trump: You don’t think I can do it? Look, I’ve been eating grapefruits for years; Hilary Clinton learned how to eat grapefruits from me; in fact, if it were not for my business—
Rand Paul [having been gesturing wildly for some time now]: Look, I don’t know why you’re listening to this guy. I can eat a grapefruit too. In fact, my techniques are just as interesting as that—that moderate’s there.
Paul picks up his unpeeled grapefruit and takes a bite. The moderators appear to be disconcerted.
Paul: You see, I’m a different kind of fruit eater.
Cruz: Me too! Me too!
1 Male mod. [hopefully]: So, Mr. Bush, you’re from Florida. You should know how to eat a grapefruit.
Bush: I’ve taught a lot of kids to eat grapefruit.
1 Male mod.: But can you eat a grapefruit?
Bush: Well …
Walker: I’ve taught people to eat grapefruits too.
1 Male mod.: But can you eat a grapefruit?
Walker eats his grapefruit, but everyone is ignoring him, because Christie and Paul have gotten into fisticuffs. The moderator blows her whistle and Christie retreats, caressing his grapefruit and murmuring “My precious, my precioussssss …”
Paul [genuinely disgusted]: You see that man? He’s so addicted to grapefruit, that he would put a camera in every kitchen to make sure you’re eating it humanely.
Christie: Oh yeah? Well you have no idea what’s involved in eating a grapefruit, you incompetent amateur.
Paul: Oh yeah? Well speaking of amateurs, YOU hate George Washington.
Christie: George Washington you say? What, Washington? Let me tell you about Washington; I was THERE in Washington when it was crossed by Delaware.
Paul: What makes you think Delaware’s in Washington? [Turning to the audience:] Guys, this fool never took Geography. He probably thinks grapefruits come from Maine.
Christie: And YOU never worked in an orchard.
Everyone starts talking about how their father picked grapefruit in an orchard, except Trump.
Trump: I would deport your fathers for picking grapefruits in an orchard.
Cruz: I would take back every grapefruit Obama ever ate.
The crowd goes wild. The other candidates stare at Cruz, some in awe, some in distress that they didn’t think of it first.
Rick Perry [still offstage]: That’s my line!
But no one hears him.
Blond mod. [desperately hoping to change the subject]: Mr. Rubio, you came here tonight saying you didn’t like grapefruit. But I see that you’re eating one. How can the voters trust an obvious liar?
Rubio: Uh … you gave me a grapefruit to eat, and so I’m eating it. But I don’t like grapefruit.
Blond mod.: But Mr. Rubio, you ate a grapefruit in the Democratic senator’s office last week.
Rubio: Yeah, he asked me to come over for lunch, and served me a grapefruit. I was hungry, and grapefruit was better than nothing.
2 Male mod.: But Mr. Rubio—
Rubio: I DON’T LIKE GRAPEFRUIT.
All the other candidates look relieved that they didn’t get such a tough question.
John Kasich [with a compassionate tilt of the head]: I am actually opposed myself, personally, very strongly, to grapefruits. But just because they’re not our traditional fruit of choice doesn’t mean we can ignore hours of Supreme Court testimony about their nutritional value. And so I would give a grapefruit to a prisoner who asked for one—in fact, I’ve done so many times in the past, and if I were president I would do it again, and hope everyone here would help me to do so, out of the goodness of their hearts, because that’s what being American is all about.
Mike Huckabee [sternly]: Grapefruits are not a social experiment. The purpose of a grapefruit is to be food and employ people.
Paul [shrugging]: I just don’t want my grapefruits registered in Washington, that’s all.
Rubio [vivace, stumbling over his words just a little]: I just think it’s swell that we’ve got all these nice grapefruits here tonight, and Hillary doesn’t have any.
Blond mod. [rolling her eyes]: Mr. Carson, you’re looking a little uncomfortable. Do you have a word for us? Something about what makes your dining style different from these other gentlemen’s?
Ben Carson [sheepishly]: I was wondering when you’d ask me. Well, let me tell you. I’m the only one who’s separated Siamese grapefruits, and the only one who’s eaten a grapefruit while it’s still on the tree. And furthermore—as a surgeon, I know that all grapefruits are, basically, the same fruit—they have the same amount of Vitamin C—whether you get the ruby red kind or the golden yellow kind.
Huckabee [more in pity than in anger]: It seems like this evening has focused too much something very red and yellow, which is only half here and just dripping juice all over the stage.
Huckabee: I mean, of course, the rest of Mr. Trump’s grapefruit, ladies and gentlemen.
Carson: In conclusion, I would just say that if elected, I would make breakfast—including grapefruits—great again.
Rubio: It’s a beautiful morning in America.