mangoI was at the grocery store the other day and I bought a mango. Although this might not sound weird at first, I should probably add that I can’t stand mangos. The flavor is too bitter and acidic for me and the texture of the flesh is absolutely unacceptable – like human baby skin suede. I actually have trouble successfully chewing and swallowing pieces of mango.

But there I was, picking out a nice ripe mango, walking around the rest of the store with the mango in my basket, and then giving the cashier money in exchange for ownership of the mango. Then this morning, I brought the mango to work, cut it up, and stuck a piece in my mouth. I kind of pushed it around my mouth, trying not to touch it too much with my tongue, and then somehow swallowed it after a while. Then I tried eating another piece, washing it down with water.

What’s my problem? I’m not sure. But I know I do it with other things, too. Every few months I also find myself buying and preparing beets, choking down a sun dried tomato, or ordering sashimi at a restaurant. I can’t stand any of these things.

And it’s not just food. Every once in a while I’ll need to see a horror movie. Then, as it’s playing and trying to scare me or something, I’m thinking of how stupid horror movies are and how stupid I am for not remembering – or, rather, absolutely remembering, but fighting against the feeling. I’m sorry, but I think zombies are kind of dumb. Same with listening to Morrissey or watching sexy television dramas – I know I hate them, and yet every once in a while, I return.

What is at the root of this problem? Am I too open-minded? Am I sometimes overcome by good advertising? Do I have some idea of the person that I’d like to be, and try to force myself into that mold?

It might be a combination of all three problems, with an emphasis on the last one. I want to like mangos. They’re exotic, good for you, and have a nice color to them. They’re a little expensive – a fruit to splurge on when you’re feeling down about apples and oranges. They’re the fancy ingredient in smoothies and health drinks. Even the word, mango, just makes me want to eat them and then tell people that I ate a mango and that the mango was juicy and have a piece of my mango.

Same goes for beets. That rare, deeply beautiful purple vegetable – but one I only imagine myself enjoying. Once, a year or two ago, I bough six cans of on-sale beets and forced them down for weeks. Did I think that somewhere deep into can six that I would finally understand and enjoy the tart-but-stale flavor and soggy cardboard texture of beets? Do I just badly want to be a person who can really savor a beet?

Sure, this trait has helped me out a few times. It took me a few tries to get into one of my favorite Korean dishes, kimchi, probably because it looks like alien brains and smells like garbage. And I had to listen to my two favorite albums of all time (In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel and Boys For Pele by Tori Amos) many times before I was convince that both artists weren’t crazy or retarded and many times after that before I fell in love with them.

So, maybe my weird obsession with persistently trying to understand and like things that I actually hate is worth it in the end. Although I’m really not looking forward to finishing this mango.

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