Jim Milak
•Easy Sex the Hard Way

Kiki Mercury
•The Modernist Gift Guide
•Iranica/Opposite Day in Iran

Matthew Shultz
•Animals in Pornography

Eric Ottens
•A Message to You
•Japanese Hangover

Mike Toe
•Bob Chinn's Crab House
•Stream of Bowling Conscious Wood
•My Young Coconut Juice

John Dugan
•My Terrorist Romance
•Politics in Your Coffee




Mike Toe

My Young Coconut Juice
So this one morning I wake up and check my business e-mail—which gets forwarded to my personal e-mail account—and there’s an e-mail from Silverman. Hmmm… He never e-mails me. What could this be? Perhaps an apology?

I open it and it’s an accusation, he states that he’s just placed the project I’ve been programming (for weeks now) “online” (on the somewhat serious-sounding “Production Server”) and that it’s broken. But worse than simply bringing this to my attention, this mother fucker has gone to great lengths to capture and include screen shots of error messages that he has gotten that clearly name my project as the source of the errors (these messages even go so far as to specifically transcribe the dubious lines of code—code that anyone could tell was written by me), and he’s then proceeded to copy the world on this e-mail (my boss, her boss, various “Project Leads”), all of whom are “big picture” people and therefore are ignorant about low-level details like how to program, meaning that they have no other choice but to trust this apparent indictment of me.

But these errors are illusional, they are caused by the server having been set up wrong (Silverman’s responsibility!); the reason the errors appear to come from my program is because my program expects things from the server that the server cannot provide (because the server has been set up wrong!)

Silverman must pay.

Yes, and how will I make Silverman pay? I have found that, in business, when co-workers whose own incompetence has caused an error the likes of which pushes them to the dark, desperate edges of human existence where all pretense of civility is shamelessly dropped in favor of unabashed uncontrolled lashing out like a pack of snarling dogs, I have found that the best way to make them pay is to leave the error uncorrected. Let them lash on, all day, all night, indefinitely, for as long as possible. This seems to eventually successfully teach them (better than words can): “If you want me to do something about it, you had better approach fucking gingerly! And say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ too!”

So I send my boss an e-mail: “Dear Peg, By the way, I forgot to tell you yesterday, I am on vacation today.”

Then I wonder what to do with this beautiful, physically perfect day. Work has been tense lately (what with the somewhat serious-sounding task of getting this project ready for the “Production Server”) and frankly the vending machine and—on a good day—McDonald’s lunches that have been all I’ve had time for lately are getting wearisome.

I decide to go to a Thai restaurant. It’s just a little, cheap storefront on the slightly edgy fringe of the city, but the two times that I’ve been there before have led me to believe that its food is more impeccably prepared than most others’ is. And I have found that at a place like this, in spite of (and because of) the cheap prices, I can heighten the hedonistic sense of food-as-luxury by ordering multiple courses, pretending it is the chef’s dégustation. A key piece of this sense of luxury is the idiosyncratic beverages that places like this always have. In fact, one of the most hedonistic things that I know of is “Thai Iced Coffee” and that is precisely the beverage I’ve been planning to order since the moment I set out toward this restaurant.

But, now that I’ve arrived here, I notice something on the beverage list that I hadn’t noticed before: “Young Coconut Juice.”

Hmmm… Young, Coconut, Juice. For the record, I truly love the cool, paradoxically rich yet refreshing, sweet, creamy, tropical flavor of real, fresh coconut (I love it at least as much as I loathe the barfy-wax flavor of the preserved shredded coconut confection that “flavors”—more accurate would be to say “texturizes”—“Mounds” candy bars and that forms the outer crust of every pink-and-white coconut cake that’s ever sat in a bakery’s window. For example, although store-bought coconut ice cream (note that I am also a big fan of ice cream) is hard to come by (I think that Ben and Jerry might make something that uses coconut-flavored ice cream as its binder, but I despise their “let’s just throw in whatever miscellaneous shit we happen to find on our pantry floor” method of making ice cream—I like perfectly smooth ice cream or, at the most, ice cream with small bits of a single pure real fruit—cherries, peaches, figs—in it that isn’t aesthetically disconcerting ice-gravel but, rather, has a pleasant chewy texture that complements the heavy viscosity of the ice cream), my freezer, nevertheless, is constantly stocked with the next best thing that’s easily attainable: boxes of coconut popsicles (the smooth and creamy “all fruit” kind of popsicle—except not the “All Fruit” brand of them because that brand’s are dry, waxy-hard, “Mounds”-like). I count on these popsicles whenever I’m in need of rich, creamy, refreshing, exotic decadence.

But what of this “Young” “Coconut” “Juice”? An enigmatic combination of words. I wonder, does this unusual word-formula refer to the refreshing, rich, sweet, creamy, tropical, exotic, real, fresh coconut of beverages, or to the “Mounds” of beverages?

If it was reasonably priced, this would be a no-risk dilemma, I would simply order it, plus a Thai Iced Coffee to fall back on, if it came to that. And if it proved to be delicious, I would then—because of the combination of it and the coffee—be in an over-the-top hedonistic paradise! But this beverage cost $2.95—far and away the most expensive drink on the menu. And this is really a very cheap place (for purposes of comparison, the first appetizer that I’ve already decided to order costs only $3.95). So I couldn’t justify ordering both drinks. But would the coconut juice be the right choice? Hmmm…

“Young.” What does that mean? I’ve often seen self-described “young coconuts” in a Thai market that I visit. They’re very large (much larger than the common brown “adult” coconuts) and very pale tan in color. And very smooth. It first appears that they have yet to grow any of the fur that covers their parents (by which I mean, not the tree, but the common brown furry adult coconuts). But they are also very different in shape (which will reveal something about their lack of fur): instead of the sphericity of common brown furry adults, they are flat-bottomed cylinders with pointed tops, like short, very squat, fat little whittle-sharpened pencils. It’s this whittled appearance that betrays something about their lack of fur: it is not that they have yet to grow any; it is that it has been manually removed, probably with a machete. Why? To appeal to the pedophiliac natures of the affluent tourists who visit Thailand for its young whores? No. In this same Thai market I have also seen a brand of canned coconut milk that calls itself “young” and has pictured on its can a big, spherical, bright green, furry coconut. I therefore must conclude that the fur is removed to increase shelf life, as this young green fur has been deprived of its chance to sun-dry itself into immortality, and surely would rapidly discolor and then rot in the constantly wet stillness of a grocer’s produce case.

But speaking of coconut milk, what of this third word, “Juice”? Does “Juice” mean “milk”? Is it, maybe, a glitch of translation? Or perhaps we are talking about a juice product of some sort that is coconut-flavored? (I am reminded of the clear, artificially-flavored, carbonated, Goya-brand Coconut Soda that happens to be extremely delicious—because the artificial flavor that they’ve chosen to use is the fresh creamy real kind of flavor instead of the “Mounds” kind of flavor.) Whatever the case, certainly we cannot be talking about the coconut water, which is the naturally-occurring clear liquid that takes up about one-quarter of the space inside common adult coconuts (the rest is air) and which all professional chefs tell you, in their cookbooks, to promptly dispose of. I defied the chefs once and tasted some of this liquid: it was totally innocuous, but, also, not worth a second thought and certainly not worth drinking for pleasure: it tastes like dry (in the wine sense) greasy water, with only a barely perceptible hint of coconut flavor (the dryness makes it almost taste like it’s a negative flavor, like negative water, water that doesn’t refresh, but sucks away refreshment, sucks away flavor). This water also has visible impurities in it, which can only increase the distaste that one feels toward a product that is already extremely low on taste. Certainly no restaurant in the world would charge the price of an appetizer for a beverage made of this worthless water that all professional chefs tell you to promptly dispose of. Therefore, I conclude that this “Young Coconut Juice” must be either coconut-milk based (I say “based” because coconut milk also is too dry (again, in the wine sense) to drink straight but I am sure that with a dollop of heavy cream and a tablespoonful of sugar, it would be totally delicious!), or a Goya-brand-Coconut-Soda-like concoction, and I proceed to order it.

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