The Rotten Truth
My bananas have a pecking order. They don’t know it. At least, I don’t think they know it. Haven’t heard any grumblings coming from the fruit bowl, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The “Top Bananas” are the ones just home from the grocery store. So full of promise and potential with their shiny peels and greenish coloring. Makes you just want to slice one up and add it to your cereal bowl. But we don’t. We eye them with suspicion. “Too green. I’m not gonna touch them. Let’s wait a day or two till they show signs of maturity.” By the way, it’s the same thing I say when I look at my kids – I just substitute the word years for days.
So a day or two goes by. We eat the fruit surrounding the bananas. The too ripe peaches and questionable plums are devoured. The bananas sit. On to phase 2: The bananas have now moved from “Top Banana” billing to “Just About Right” status. Their maturity is evident – slight browning with just a little bit of give. But the timing is all wrong. Who wants bananas when you can have juicy grapes, recently washed and glistening on the counter? Who wants bananas when you can have succulent watermelon, sliced into perfect red wedges and waiting for consumption in the refrigerator? The banana’s “Just About Right” status gets pushed to “I’m Dyin’ Here”.
My grandfather loved bananas when they hit this stage. He appreciated their imperfections and simply dug out the offending bruises revealed upon peeling. I loved my grandfather and had a deep respect for him. He was the father I barely had. If my grandfather told me to work on the Sunday Jumble puzzle, I worked feverishly, shouting out answers and watching his face fill with pride. If my grandfather told me that bruised bananas were the best bananas, I waiting patiently for the perfectly green ones to brown ever so slightly. I became the person who likes brown bananas and believed I was that person well into my 20’s. One day I realized that I truly hate brown bananas, actually I wasn’t a big banana fan at all. Apricots and blueberries were far more interesting to me. Bananas seemed just a little too ordinary for my worldly tastes.
Which helps explain how the “I’m Dyin’ Here” bananas move to the “Assisted Living” phase – out of the fruit bowl and onto the counter. Cut off from the rest of the fruit, just buying time waiting for one of two things to happen: reincarnation in a 9 x 5 loaf pan as banana bread or a stop at their final resting place - a graveyard lined with a Hefty bag.
How many loaves of banana bread can one family eat? Yes, there are banana bars topped with cream cheese frosting and there are banana muffins which are just banana bread disguised in a paper liner. Bananas covered in chocolate and rolled in nuts are supposed to be wonderful frozen and served as an afternoon snack. But did I mention that I’m just not a banana person? And yet, I continue to buy bananas weekly – sometimes twice weekly – and I continue to feel shame as I throw yet another bunch away. If there is such a thing as Banana Guilt, I have it.
At the moment, I have enough bananas in my house to open a smoothie shop. Three “Just About Right” bananas sit smugly in the fruit bowl. Four very brown and mottled bananas sit on the counter seriously contemplating suicide. Cruelly, I have the trashcan out and nearby, making the jump that much easier for them. I just returned from the grocery store where I bought 3 more bananas – “Top Bananas”. As I place them in the fruit bowl, I swear I hear the “Just About Right” ones groan.