Chris Lynch: “The Philosophy of Mangoes”

The Philosophy of Mangoes

Mangoes do not fully domesticate. They are lush, a little louche; no amount of slicing or
dicing can disguise their inherent wantonness. Mangoes are green only so that when the
time comes they can flaunt their ripeness, sprawling shamelessly on backyard concrete
like voluptuous nudists. If you’re not going to eat us, mangoes seem to say, we’re still
going to make a mess. A mango, with its thick branches, dense foliage, and pendulous
abundance, is a kind of nightmarish tropical grape, tempting us with Dionysian abandon,
threatening us with malarial fever dreams. It is always pouring rain when we eat a
mango, either in the darkness of someone else’s garden or under too-bright fluorescent
light, the corpses of flying ants littering the table, the voices of geckoes drowned out
under tin roof. Unlike apples, mangoes seduce us directly, without the intermediary of a
snake. They actually enjoy being handled. You too, they intimate, can ripen, can split
open and be fed on by hungry, searching tongues, manure monsoonal soils. An apple is
defined by its crispness. No one wants to eat a soft apple. The more a mango softens,
however, the more it swells and rots, the more fully it becomes itself; it tempts us with
disgust, taunts our Victorian decorum. Let your body go to slop and ruin, the mango
promises, and you will be feasted on. Teeth will nip and tug and strip. Every part of your
body will be sucked on, and devoured, and your juices will sate greedy hands and snouts
until all that remains is slippery seed. The stink of mango always brings the risk of
transformation. When you climb up to eat a mango you might just become a bat,
forgetting who you are and leaping slick and naked into the sky.