Mangoes on Wednesday

Sometimes in life you need a little gift. Here are some simple instructions to practice the pleasure principle on the cheap.

Go to the produce department at your grocery store and find the sliced mangoes. You could buy a fresh mango, but that wouldn’t be a gift for yourself. That would be work. Buy the sliced mangoes in the plastic container instead and promise to recycle the plastic if you need that peace of mind.

When you get home, put the container somewhere in the bottom of the refrigerator. It is a law of nature that the mango spears in that container are nowhere near ready to eat. They are still basically white, sour, and tough. Walk away and do something else. You have plenty to do. Forget about it.

In the meantime, perhaps the week ahead will kick you in the face. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

Notice the mangoes late on Wednesday night. Maybe you will be rooting around the refrigerator looking for the last Inca Kola, or maybe you are thinking about the leftovers from Monday’s dinner down there somewhere. Whatever the reason, look in the back. When you see the little plastic boat full of beautiful little golden yellow spears, now perfectly ripened, you may curse with delight. That is up to you.

Resist the urge to crack open the container and scoop the contents into your greedy maw two or three spears at a time right there at the refrigerator. This would be good, sure, but a measure of patience now will pay off later.

Take the container over to the counter and open it carefully. Search your spice rack for the Chili Powder and liberally dust the top layer of mangoes with the rich, ochre-red seasoning. I learned this trick from a woman selling mangoes on the street outside of the New York Public Library. She was shouting, “Mango, Mango, Mango, Mango,” a simple but effective incantation, and I was drawn like an insect to the porch lamp on a summer night. When I handed over four sweaty dollar bills, she produced a Zip-Loc bag full of the precious golden slices—which is the closest thing to a drug deal I have been involved in for many years—and asked, “you want chili?” You want chili.  

Now you are ready. Grab a fork and recline like Nero on the couch in the living room while you eat every single chili-seasoned mango spear in the box. This is a gift.

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