Tonight I'm thinking about papaya.
I had it for breakfast and marvelled at its black, squishy seeds. Like micro versions of those boba balls in Thai (I think it's Thai?) drinks -- which people suck out of an oversized straw and chew. Which I frankly have always found disgusting. So slimy and tasteless. Just black tapioca -- don't you know?
"Like some frog eye puddin'?" That's what some older relative from Idaho, chewing on hayseed, smelling of potato farming and work, called tapioca pudding. No wonder tapioca pudding has fallen out of fashion. White glop shimmering with clear alien aberrations -- with something outright wrong -- that doesn't belong in pudding -- like frog eyes.
And that's how I feel about boba too.
But not papaya. Despite its seeds... which become elegant and pretty and mysterious when you don't have to eat them.
Because papaya is literary. And has been for me ever since The Last Thing He Wanted, which was a terrible read. Sometimes I feel like I flipped through the whole thing and despite moving my eyes across each sentence, left to right, those pages played magic tricks, because what looked like words, were just air, just breath, just wind. Nothing registered. Nothing held. Had I not read the back blurb, I couldn't even tell you what the novel was about.
Save for exactly two tidbits that I can't forget...
1) A woman dipping slices of crisp bacon into chocolate pudding in an airport lounge. (Gross)
2) The same woman (I believe) eating only exactly one-half of a papaya every morning outside her beach house, before she went for a long walk along the shore.
I *felt* the way she ate that papaya. (I felt the pudding and bacon too, though I didn't want to).
And I don't know.... the papaya seemed a conduit. The purpose with which she ate it seemed integral to her making a right decision, seemed to be bringing her closer to her next step. And I can't think about papaya without thinking of that book and that beach and the literary figure who made them nearer than real. Made that half of a papaya eaten for breakfast every morning stick with me all this time, despite the fact that even as I read the rest of the words, I was forgetting them.
Everybody needs some literary sacrament. Absinthe. What have you.
That's what papaya is for me.