Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Mango Has Loose Morals

Let’s face it: the mango has loose morals. This is not a judgment, not an assessment. The mango does not play by anyone’s rules but its own. A mango would pull you away from a careening city bus, quick like lightening. Don’t underestimate the mango. Don’t make that mistake. Its cool green skin shiny like the lower east side, its round bottom would incite Paul Rubens to riot. The flesh, sweet and sticky orange and yellow, underneath the skin crisps against the air when the knife first cuts. It prickles with goose pimples – like it’s shy, like it’s coy. It’s an act; it is theatre. It is burlesque. It is a little known fact that Bob Fosse was reincarnated as a mango. It is a sad fumbling dance I do when butchering the mango, hacking away like a novice, fearful of the stone. Like unhooking a bra, wary of moles, fearful of reproach. Each inch, each millimeter, revealing sweeter and more succulent flesh. Each mistake more dramatic, more unforgiveable. The mango is so alive, so vibrant, I can not help but fear I am hurting it when I open it like a secret, like a memory. The blade slices easily through the skin, into the flesh, almost gluttonous to taste more, reach further.
The pieces lay supine on the cutting board, slow arcing abdomens without navels, like Adam or Eve. The air in the kitchen reacts suddenly. The atmosphere changes. The light is still the thin hard light of a summer zombified by drought but it is flecked with wet spots of mango perfume, hanging in the air willfully ignorant of gravity. That’s mango for you – hilarious. The kitchen becomes sweeter – the air is somehow more lush. Time moves strangely when the body is caught in the embrace of the unseen, the sensed. It is not unlike the moment of being kissed for the first or last time. Mango can be a bit dramatic from time to time. The grill outside is a kind of white hot that the Velvet Underground might appreciate. It is that kind of steady fury. I have a way with fire. When the mango first hits the grill the sound is uncomfortable. Not as bad a nails on a chalkboard; nothing is really even on that level. It is the sound of singed flesh – of cauterizing. Yet it sounds like a slow moan, a lingering sigh. The black stripes across the orange become whimsical as autumn, as Halloween. The mango is turned just this way or that, left with the cover closed, the smoke thick and blue as B.Holiday, and the black lines are cross hatched. The stripes have become fishnets. The mango has loose morals.
The roasted mango is of course too hot to touch, and must be touched immediately. The slices are flecked with ash, the skin pockmarked and scarred. And they fit perfectly into a gently open mouth. It is impossible to be anywhere else in the world, when eating that mango. I mean, for that moment, there is no fantasy, no prediction. No reference books or tarot cards. No sad or sweet stories of time past. No rebuilding that past like the Old South. It is impossible not to smile when eating the mango; it’s incorrigible. It sounds like gypsy jazz; it is predictable in that kind of way. But it feels good to tap your foot, to shake your ass, to lick your lips. The mango, a taxi dancer, is there willing to have its dance card filled. For that moment you will taste what it was to be that mango, to be alive, and vital. There is no remorse. There is no arrogance of hindsight. There is only the feeling of the mango’s heat mixing with your own. There is the sweet exhalation, sweet relief.

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