Mango Season

LVT and her Mom

Lindsey and her Mom

By Lindsey Victoria Thompson

I realized my father is white the day I saw him eat a mango.

On a day in the middle of July, peak mango season, my mother and I eye a bowl of perfectly ripe fruit in the kitchen. Their yellow-orange skin seems to be glowing. Thirsty for the taste of their sweet nectar, we each grab a mango and immediately begin to devour the fruit.

We sink our incisors straight into its flesh and peel away the skin with our teeth. This sends juices running down our chins, and we reposition ourselves over the sink to prevent further messes.

We have taken to eating our fruit in a tribal and savage manner. I don’t know if it is because we adore the ambrosia of tropical fruit or because it awakens some sort of savage inner self that lies dormant during the mango off-season, but the tradition of tearing apart fruit in this way can be dated back centuries in my mom’s Mexican heritage.

Just as we are finishing our first mango, my father walks in. One look at our faces, covered in sticky juices, and he erupts in laughter. We have never quite been able to understand the hilarity of eating fruit, but my father considers our eating customs as strange and foreign as speaking Klingon or piloting the Starship Enterprise.

I have learned to just shrug at my father’s inability to understand our habits, so I continue to suck on the pit of my mango, which by this time resembles a shriveled-up carcass.

“I just can’t understand why you don’t like fruit,” says my mother.

It isn’t so much that my dad dislikes fruit, but that he doesn’t crave it like we do. Even when he does find himself in the world of fruit, he rarely ventures outside of eating apples and bananas. Mention a guanabana or lychee, and he shudders in distaste.

“Here,” I say, handing him a mango, “just try one.”

He accepts my offering and trots over to the silverware drawer to retrieve a knife — a tool my mother and I deem useless in preparing fruit — and scores the skin in neat and equal quadrants and gently peels back the outer layer. He delicately slices off a piece and pops it into his mouth.

“It’s good,” he says.

Good? These were perfectly ripe mangos, for God’s sake. They’re better than good! I think, as I take the skin of my third mango between my teeth and scrape off any remnants of meat.

Lindsey and Dad

Lindsey and her Dad

We go on eating like this, my mom and I like untamed animals and my father like a daintily brought up debutante, when he says what I consider to be the most Anglo thing a person could say: “How do I know if I’m eating the pit?”

I thought it wa a common human instinct to be born with the ability to recognize the simple and delicious inner workings of tropical fruit, and I cannot begin to wrap my mind around his question. This time it is me and my mother who burst out in laughter.

Confused and a little embarrassed, my dad attempts to win me back over by suggesting that we make an impromptu trip to The Dairy Dip, an old fashioned ice-cream parlor that makes a chocolate milkshake that would put any 1950s housewife’s to shame.

I enthusiastically agree to go, but my mom shrugs her shoulders in indifference.

“You know I don’t love that kind of stuff like you two do,” she says.

I guess it’s an Anglo thing.

Lindsey Victoria Thompson is a high school junior in Nashville, TN.  This essay won an award of recognition from Conexión Américas, a community non-profit which sponsored an essay contest for Hispanic Heritage Month 2009. You can read more about the winners at HispanicNashville.com.

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By Contributor on October 8, 2009 · Posted in featured, headline, the habla habla

9 Comments | Post Comment

kelly c says:

love it! I can’t wait to see more of Lindsey’s work.

Posted on October 8th, 2009

Marta says:

Great story, Lindsey!

It works the same way at our house. The kids and I love messy, ripe fruit with lots of texture. But they love when dad takes them out for ice cream (which doesn’t really appeal to me).

Thanks for sharing and good luck to you!

Posted on October 8th, 2009

Tweets that mention Love, love, love this contributor. And she's only a H.S. Junior! Talento! Mango Season -- Topsy.com says:

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tiki Tiki Blog, Tiki Tiki Blog and Phillip L. Velez. Phillip L. Velez said: RT @efrainortizjr @TikiTikiBlog: In celebration of being bi-cultural enjoy this essay by a talented high school junior http://bit.ly/18DEIW [...]

Posted on October 8th, 2009

Keen says:

Wonderful, wonderful essay. And such a beautiful picture, too!

Posted on October 8th, 2009

Jackie says:

Fantastic!

Posted on October 8th, 2009

Manuel says:

Great read, you go girl;
Latinos in an anglo setting, we have the best of two worlds. At our S.Fl. farm we love our mango milk shakes and Oreo shakes in between.
Dios Bendiga America!

Posted on October 9th, 2009

Chantel says:

I was so surprised to learn the writer was so young. This girl can write! Congratulations on the award!

Posted on October 12th, 2009

Dichos Talk: Mango Bajito | News says:

[...] Mango Season [...]

Posted on July 7th, 2010

Sra. López says:

I loved this. I’m the Anglo in an Anglo/Latino marriage, and like your father, fruit is just “good” to me. I don’t crave it or look forward to it with the same passion my Latina mother-in-law does, (my husband isn’t too crazy about fruit though.)

One of our sons has the fruit love in his genes. He always tries to force mango on me.

I look forward to more from Lindsey!
Sra. López´s last [fabulousness] ..Let’s roll!

Posted on July 21st, 2010