I was talking to my friend Matt on the phone today. He was serving in Iraq this year, and, when his duty there was over, he brought a bunch of date seeds back to the United States with him. He wanted my advice on how to save them – they aren’t sprouting like they did for him in Baghdad. It turns out that they had gotten moldy on the trip home. I don’t have high hopes for those seeds, and it makes me sad. They are such a poignant keepsakes from his time there.

I happen to have another touching story about dates. When I was living at home for a while after college, I went through a date phase. I just loved them. In the kitchen one afternoon, I spotted an opaque bag on the counter containing what appeared to be dates. I felt the forms inside – definitely dates. But I opened the bag to find dog poo. Apparently, my mom had been cleaning up in the yard when the phone rang. She ran inside to answer it, and, without thinking, had set the bag on the counter. Damn it, mom.