Father, I have a confession.
I have lived thirty years on this earth and up until last week I did not know that watermelon rind was edible. I can’t remember how I happened upon this piece of information, but after discovering it I have been eating the stuff non-stop. Hell, I’ve even been buying watermelon just so I can eat the rind. I munch my way disconsolately through the pink flesh just so I can get to the tough, chewy, vegetal exterior. (I suppose I could chuck the flesh away, but that would make me pretty monstrous.)
It’s not even as though I particularly like it. It doesn’t even really taste like it should be edible – it is slightly rubbery and bitter, with the faint whiff of something you’d pick up and eat in the garden. But hey – I thought it was inedible, and then discovered that you can, in fact, eat it. That, my friends, is reason enough for me to chow down like a mo fo. I even packed some pieces of watermelon rind into a tupperwear container today, and ate it on the District Line. Real men never use tupperwear! Hark at the power of new knowledge!
An analogy, I suppose, is this: no matter how little you have or how shitty your life is, imagine everything you own gets taken away from you, and then given back. You appreciate it all anew. It’s like that with watermelon rind: you spend your whole life effectively being told by your internal monologue that you can’t eat it, and then suddenly you can; those voices in your head were wrong. You are energised, refreshed by the vigour of new information and stimulation for your taste buds.
This general idea can be extended beyond the environs of Cucurbitaceae (the word lovingly cut and pasted from Wikipedia) to encompass life more generally. Your kids won’t eat their vegetables? Tell them that they are inedible, and cannot be consumed. Tell them they are naughty, dangerous, taboo. Then, a few months later, tell them that they are edible after all. Now watch them stuff their faces with broccoli like little hamsters. (Or cry after having enjoyed a month of Twixes and chicken kievs. I dunno. What do you think this is, science?)
A subtle, highly philosophical distinction needs to be made. I am not saying that banning or discouraging something makes someone automatically want it. Firstly, it doesn’t: making love to goats is banned, and I don’t want to do it. Secondly, my affinity for watermelon rind was awakened not upon being told that the stuff was inedible (indeed, I am not sure I was ever explicitly told this) but upon being told that it was, having previously assumed that it wasn’t. Suppose goatular lovemaking were legalised tomorrow: get me to the nearest goat farm!*
*I am not sexually attracted to goats. But sheep on the other hand…**
**I am not sexually attracted to sheep. But llamas? NOW you’re talking…***
***I am not sexually attracted to llamas. Toyota Priuses however? Phew!****
**** I am not sexually attracted to cars.