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How to Open a Coconut
- Discover a single coconut at the foot of one of your rented Pacific island beach house’s towering palms.
- Talk excitedly with your precocious five-year-old about cracking the coconut open to devour its milky innards, in what would constitute an authentic cultural experience and holiday bonding opportunity, and the chance to ‘do as the locals do’.
- Demonstrate your worldly knowledge by telling her that more people are killed each year by falling coconuts than by sharks.
- Bash the coconut as hard as you can on the terracotta tiles and then the corners of the stucco-clad house before—keenly aware of your daughter’s waning interest and her diminishing estimation of your fatherly strength—telling her to wait on the manicured lawns while you search for a blunt instrument from the garden shed at the rear of the house.
- Return to the grass to hack at the impenetrable sphere with a blunt shovel and then, ambitiously, a rake, prompting a concerning twinge in your lower back.
- Put your daughter in front of the iPad.
- Wave at the smiling security guard, who—alerted by your grunting and depraved curse words—wanders over and gestures for you to pass him the coconut, before he returns with an entirely different coconut that you realise looks more akin to the classic coconuts you see in the movies, and not the oddly shaped species he kindly replaced.
- Feel a kernel of guilt about your wife’s earlier question, when you’d left the house for a snorkelling daytrip, about whether you could trust the staff around your valuables while you were out. While you told her there was nothing to worry about—that they’d lose their jobs if anything was to happen—you neglected to tell her you’d also asked yourself this question.
- Ponder what the minimum wage is here, whether the French owner of the beach house is a kind man, and what percentage of the coastline’s other waterfront properties have been bought by cashed-up foreigners.
- Convince yourself that your stay here contributes to the tourism economy, providing jobs for the locals, and helping to lift some of them from hardship.
- Re-focus your thoughts on your new, more classic, coconut, and pull out your phone to type, ‘How to open a coconut’.
- Scroll through the thumbnails in the Videos tab, most of them featuring portly Westerners promising hacks and easy steps to procure the nut’s forbidden nucleus, all of them requiring implements such as hammers and Phillips head screwdrivers. You not only don’t have these tools, but they sound distinctly unlike what the locals would use.
- Eventually discover a video featuring a softly spoken wellness blogger—whose vague European accent you can’t quite discern, but whose soothing voice calms your jangled nerves—and follow along as she tips a knife into the soft eye of the coconut, drains its water into a glass, and hits the shell along its equator with the blunt edge of a large kitchen knife.
- Smile broadly as your coconut cracks into two.
- Pick up the two pieces and the glass of coconut water to take to your daughter, but—momentarily stunned by the postcard views from the Airbnb’s porch—stand there just a moment longer, and ponder how we strayed so far from our simple ways, how long it’ll be until the water laps the tiles at your feet, and whether the housekeeper will be able to tell you jacked-off into one of the expensive looking hand towels.
- Look up just in time to watch a falling coconut strike and crack your skull, and in the moment before it does, consider whether this is the result of some kind of local black magic, or if it’s simply atonement, though for what, you’re not entirely sure.