I WAS brought up in age when an exotic fruit was a homosexual from Thailand.
And in a country where the best you could expect to get (exotic fruits, not Thai homosexuals) was a tangerine: a fruit so remarkably unexotic I think it’s now extinct.
So I was bound to become a mango junkie the moment I stepped off the plane.
It’s not fair to introduce pasty-faced northern hemisphere migrants who have lived sheltered lives, to a world with mangoes in it. It was bad enough in Sydney, where a mango is still an import, but in Townsville, come mango season, they call to you more seductively than the courtesans of kings.
I know of no other fruit that is an incitement to strip off your clothes and leap into a swimming pool; no other fruit, with the possible exception of the peach, that is truly the hue and texture of the kind of person you’d want to leap into a swimming pool with.
(They talk of people who have skin like peaches. Furry skin? I think they mean wombats).
In mango season a trip through Flinders Mall on a Sunday morning or the showground markets on a weekend is like a stroll through the red light district of heaven, if there is such a thing.
They’re on every stall. And they’re naked and unashamed and every single one has never been tasted before.
I can’t speak personally for places like Amsterdam, but people who know these things tell me that if an Amsterdam tart was a mango she’d have more teeth marks than a crocodile victim, and the hard and hairy heart of a well-chewed stone.
But Townsville mangoes are like something out of a Botticelli painting. All big bums, breasts bulging like Bowens, and the promise of more promiscuity than a pubescent teenage male ever dreamed of.
Each one is an unsullied Delilah, or a Mata Hari, but without the downside. They wink at you; they smile and blush, and when you take up the invitation and leap naked into the pool together, you get all the pleasure without ending up with your head on a plate, or your private parts in the grip of a world power.
And the closest you can get to a sexually transmitted disease is the interminable trots.
Someone out there is going to complain that I’m guilty of sexism in my love of mangoes. Well, yes, being a heterosexual male I would be, wouldn’t I?
No doubt there are women out there who have jumped naked into swimming pools with mangoes and they have comparisons of their own to make. I’d love to hear from them.
But just in case I am tarred forever by the brush of excessive lust (my wife has just snorted derisively into her teacup) let me say that the mango’s true role in the southern hemisphere is not to remind old men of the lascivious youth they meant to have, but didn’t. It’s to warn us that summer is galloping down the winning straight and that Christmas’s flag is up and waving.