"What's that, Mommy?"
"This is a coconut," I reply, referring to what might as well be a hair-covered ball of solid steel for all the luck I'm having with it. I bought something labeled an "easy open" coconut at the grocery store on a whim and have successfully drained most of the water from its insides.
"Can I eat it?"
"Not yet, Anna, ok? Mommy has to open it first."
"How you gonna do that?"
"I'm not sure yet."
I know the most common way I've seen coconuts open involves a large kitchen knife and a hammer, but the black hole that exists somewhere in this house appears to have eaten the hammer, so I am a bit at a loss. I turn to my friend the Internet. The instructions for said "easy open" coconut tell me to tap lightly around the groove someone has already cut into the thing. As far as I can tell, they have cut nothing and have drawn a line around it with a pencil, for all the good it's worth.
Someone recommends simply hitting the coconut against the ground "once or twice." I immediately dismiss this someone as a potential moron. I could park my car on this thing and be no closer to breaking it open.
Someone suggests just whacking it with a kitchen knife. I attempt to do so and am rewarded with a shrapnel-like bit of husk narrowly missing my eye, but no cracked coconut.
Someone else suggests a mallet and chisel. I know we don't have a chisel.
A third said she got her coconut to crack open by placing it in the sink and beating the crap out of it with a meat tenderizer. That, I know I have, and since I'm the only person who ever uses it, I even know exactly where it is. Coconut goes in sink, and I start whacking it like I'm trying to kill it. The sound reverberates around the sink, but the coconut remains closed.
Mary wanders in.
"Mommy, do you hear banging noises?"
"Yes," I mumble, staring at my hairy nemesis chilling out in the sink.
"What do you think is making it?"
"Mommy, trying to open a coconut."
"A coconut? Let me see! Can I eat it?"
"Not until Mommy gets it open," I mutter, starting in on the thing again. My wrist begins to hurt.
"Hey Mommy," Mary says in a kind of gentle, instructing voice, "I don't think that hammer is working. Let's think of another tool to use. I know, a knife!"
"A knife isn't going to work, Mary," I reply.
"No, it will, and it won't make that banging noise either. Knives are quiet. You're hurting our ears with all that banging."
Another video seems to suggest placing the coconut in the oven for some reason, but I have no speakers on this computer so I have no idea why, or how hot, or how long. Find a site in English, preheat oven to 375. I am instructed to heat it for 10 minutes "or until you see a crack appearing." I am assuming they mean something deeper than the Sharpie line someone, somewhere, got a good laugh over drawing before slapping an "easy open" sticker on the stupid thing.
I am starting to hate coconuts, especially since I bothered to look it up and one tiny piece is about four Weight Watchers points. Not that I'm doing Weight Watchers, exactly, but it seems important.
Also, coconut water is gross.
But I am committed.
"We need a knife to do it," Mary reminds me. "But we can't do it, 'cause knives are sharp."
For my kids, I will do this. When I was a kid I was obsessed with coconuts and always wanted to buy them at the supermarket. I don't think we ever did. I think I know why.
"Mommy, can I watch you open the coconut?"
"Sure, Mary. I have to stick it in the oven first."
"Now that's a good one!" Mary said, as if I were doing a standup routine. "Is that HOW you open a coconut? Cause I don't know. What's in it?"
"Coconut meat," I say. "Boppa (my father) eats it. What did you think was in it?"
"Milk," she replies.
Smart kid. Anna has completely given up on us at this point.
We wait for the oven to preheat and wait the requisite 10 minutes. There is no crack. I resume my meat cleaver activities. Just as I'm starting to think I may never have feeling in my wrist again, it splits in half cleanly.
"AHA!" I say, excitedly.
"It's empty in there," Mary said critically. I started prying the coconut meat away from the shell, and I will say, the oven makes it come away cleanly.
"I TOLD YOU you needed a knife," she said, triumphantly. I offered some coconut to Mary. She shook her head.
"I want some!" Anna cried. I handed her a piece. She licked it and put it on the counter.
"Maybe I save it for lunch," she muttered, and walked away, abandoning it forever.
From here on in, we're sticking with bananas.