Remember that weird kid in high school who said something so profoundly stupid the first time you met, you backed away slowly and avoided them like the “Cats” trailer?
Food can be like that, too.
The first time I ever bit into a mango, my taste buds were assaulted with a flavor so harsh and floral, it felt like I was chomping on a bar of deodorant. That was the day mango joined what I dubbed the “Axis of Evil”: my list of personally offensive foods that must never be ingested again.
One of the problems of having such a list is that you inevitably find someone who loves one of those foods and will loudly proselytize on its behalf if you reveal your heresy. Mango lovers came out of the woodwork to tell me how it was the greatest fruit known to man and only the soulless could disagree. They demanded I open my heart and mouth to the magic of mango.
There’s nothing like someone telling you you’re wrong to make you dig your heels in.
I stopped telling all but my closest confidants about my Axis of Evil, and eventually, the mango lovers left me alone. But after a while, when there weren’t any fanatics getting in my face about it anymore, a flicker of doubt crept in. I started to wonder if maybe I was wrong.
Fellas, let me tell you: I was so wrong.
The first mango I tried just wasn’t ripe yet. The second mango I tried was filled with the nectar of the gods. Turns out the weird kid was actually very cool once I got to know them. Best friend material, even.
I started on a quest to investigate other foods I’d given the cold shoulder and had similar results. My Axis of Evil shrank to a single offender.
First impressions can be deceiving, which is why second and third chances are important. But you know what James Bond and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” author Ian Fleming says: “Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”
Sometimes, the asshole you pegged from the first minute is still an asshole the next day and the next month. For me, that asshole is cilantro. No matter how many chances I’ve given it, it always tastes like something that grew on the Elephant’s Foot in Chernobyl.
If your asshole food involves celiac disease or an allergy, you probably shouldn’t give it a first chance, let alone a second.
But look, you’re in college now. I’m not gonna tell you what to do, because I know from experience how close spite is to stubbornness. But this is a special chunk of life when you get to learn strange, new things about yourself. Or you can stick to your uninformed limits and pretend only weirdos like mango.
Playing it safe might protect you from the bitter things in life, but it’ll protect you from the sweet stuff, too.