I was cutting it open on the bench, making a large tear about halfway around its circumference near the bottom. I bent down to smell the inside, pulling the tear ajar a little. It smelled strange, but not awful, not rotting-body-awful, which was what I expected. I lengthened the tear to about 3/4 of the circumference and pulled the two sections apart. Looking at the insides, and smelling it, I didn't want to touch it, let alone eat it. I took a teaspoon out of the drawer, and started poking at the semi-liquid yellow globs inside.
"This looks truly revolting on the inside, it's not appetising in the slightest," I yelled into the corridor.
"Does it stink yet?", Mum shouted back.
"Not really, it just smells odd."
Mum walked into the kitchen, edging closer to the bench, as if I were cutting open a diseased body. Suddenly she threw her head back, and with a "pwoooah", she put her hand over her mouth and nose.
"Oh god, can't you smell that?"
"It's not that strong."
"It is! And just look at it! God, that's terrible."
"OK, I'll take it outside then."
I went out the back door, carrying it on the cutting board. I poked at it a bit more, and put about half a teaspoon of it in my mouth. It tasted a little sweet, but also strange, like food that was well past its time. I was unsure about it now. I sent a text message to Eileen, a Vietnamese-Australian friend of mine. It read: "Have you ever eaten a durian? I just tried one and it was bloody awful." That was a bit of an exaggeration. A few minutes later, when I was inside, I received the reply: "Yes, I certainly have! They're delicious!!" After a bit of a debate with Mum about whether to call or text her back (Mum wanted me to call, I thought it was strange to be calling about a fruit), I called her.
Eileen: Oh, haha, Hi!
Me: What's up?
Eileen: Not a lot, really, how about you?
Me: Yeah, not much.
Eileen: So, about this durian?
Me: Yeah, I just ate some, what is it meant to be like?
Mum: You didn't actually eat some, did you?
Me: Yes, I had a bit.
Mum: Well, you're braver than I am.
Eileen: Sorry, what?
Me: Sorry, I was talking to my Mum, she's right here. She has a knitting needle in her mouth.
Eileen: Hahaha, OK. Yeah, well, they're pretty stinky.
Me: Yes, it's sitting outside now, I cut it up and Mum couldn't stand it.
Eileen: Hahaha, yeah, that happens. You know they don't let you take them on buses and things in Asia?
Me: Yeah, I heard that, I've seen photos of street signs, with the outline of a durian and a big red cross over it.
Me: So, what are they meant to be like, to eat?
Eileen: Umm, a bit sweet and really creamy.
Me: Right. Because ours looks just like cold custard on the inside.
Eileen: Yeah! That's exactly right.
Me: OK. Because I thought that maybe we just had a bad one.
Eileen: Where did you buy it? I wouldn't think you could get one in Armidale.
Me: Just at Woolworths.
Eileen: Huh. That's weird, because they have to come a long way, from the tropics.
Me: Yeah, exactly, that's why I thought that maybe this one was off or something. It just looks like it's rotting on the inside.
Eileen: No, no, that's just how they look, hahaha.
Me: OK. Well, I guess it's an acquired taste. I don't know. We just bought one to give it a try, and I suppose that was a bad idea.
Mum: It said 'frozen' on the label!
Me: Yeah, that's Mum, she says it said 'frozen' on the label.
Eileen: They do that a lot.
Me: To keep them from smelling, right?
Eileen: No, I think just because they have to travel so far. Oh hey, do you remember around 2001, when all that terrorism hysteria was happening, there was that story about the guy taking one on a plane? I guess you were only a kid.
Me: Aah, no, I don't remember any specific story like that, but I definitely remember the hysteria, yes.
Eileen: Well, someone took it on as carry-on luggage, and to stop the smell they sprayed it with anti-perspirant.
Me: As you do.
Eileen: Yeah, well, you know how some of the sprays leave that white powder?
Me: And they thought it was anthrax.
Eileen: Hahaha, yeah, they did.
Me: Because that's just the logical way to transport anthrax, isn't it. On a large spiky fruit.
Eileen: Hahaha, yes. Of course.
Mum: What's this about anthrax?
We talked for a little while (it was her birthday), and later I tried eating some more of the durian, but in the end I hardly had a tablespoon of it. I wrapped it in a plastic bag and threw it out, wondering if it had been worth spending $13 to find out that I didn't like a fruit that is rarely available in any place with a humidity level that I can bear.