Durian

It’s Durian season here folks, a season (un) affectionately termed by me to describe a period of time in Bali when durian fruit is (un) fortunately plentiful. It is so abundant, in fact, that you can smell it in the air many meters before you actually come upon it. For those who like durian fruit, this is a convenient tracking mechanism. However, I liken this olfactory experience to encountering a frightened skunk.

For those of you who don’t already know, durian emits a funk funkier than the P-funk All-stars. It’s like the smell of mass death, of giving up, of wickedness, of sin.

Yet people here eat it! Nice people, who are smart and funny and sane. These otherwise intelligent, good people purposefully go to the market with the intention of purchasing durian fruit, and they they eat it…willingly! They cut open that spikey melon ball, and they chew, savor and suck that martian meat. Then they lick their fingers with appreciation and lean back in gratitude. Gratitude for what? Day-old Easter ham that’s been mushed together then farted on before serving?

A few weeks ago I was driving back from the beach and came upon the smell of that fruity time bomb as I traveled innocently home to my villa. Afraid that the smell might karate kick me off my bike, I held my breath and sped up in hopes of telephoning myself past the horrific smell. About 10 minutes later I was finally able to take a breath without gagging. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure the durian-polluted air I was forced to breath prior to that (only enough to stay alive) left bits of it stuck in my teeth, because despite flossing every night, I had bad breath for a week.

But that’s how durian works: it warns you not to eat it by emitting a smell more foul than even the most creative mind can fathom. Really, it is begging you not to eat it. It’s like, “Hey, you seem pretty smart, but let me make this really easy for you. You know that smell that’s making you woozy? That’s me. So why not pick the Special instead.”

Seriously. Eating durian is as nonsensical as cuddling a skunk because you think that their odor means they want you to come closer. They don’t! And neither does durian.

I remember the first and only time I tried durian, I regretted it before I sunk my teeth into it. It tastes like a turkey dinner that has been mashed together, thrown in the trash for a few days, pulled out, then refrigerated uncovered for a week before serving. Again, it cautions you not in ingest it. Much like spoiled milk that has gone the way of cottage cheese, it’s like, “Hey, I’ve been here a while and no matter how pristine my packaging still looks, I’m more like an open casket funeral than a treasure chest.”

I ignored the warning, and ate the durian anyway, choosing to satisfy my ego by proving that I could eat it. I won’t make that mistake again. The next time I am accosted by such an upsetting smell I’m going to be like, “Thanks for the warning. I’ll see you later.” And of course I’ll be using “later” in the social sense, which many a washed-up actor has come to understand as a euphemism for “never.”

It’s duck season also, only just at my villa. That’s because what it really is is harvest season in the rice fields outside my back porch. Normally they stand peacefully, only making themselves apparent when the wind blows and they are growing old (and therefore tall) and tired, so they sway back and forth like young lovers dancing, making a soft rustling noise that tickles my eardrums.

Anyway, duck season is really nothing like this. Duck season occurs after those stalks have had a good bang and the rice has been shed from their wiry appendages (i.e. the stalks). Next their love nest is turned into a funeral pyre and burned, eliminating all traces of their consummation and making way for the next batch. Finally, they flush it all away with water then irrigate it with water. This is before they grind up all the mud with these archaic looking tractors and replant. Right before this, they let a WHAT of ducks into this swampy area to eat bugs and then relieve themselves, thus fertilizing the ground for the next rice harvest.

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