November 15, 2011

Bananas have had a recurring presence at front and center in my life. When I was a baby, Chuckie did his best to see that I would never enjoy eating bananas by continually trying to get them all for himself. When I was a young adult a doctor informed me that I had too much potassium in my system causing a cardiac arrhythmia, and to refrain from eating bananas. Do you think Chuckie knew that and was trying to protect me? Nahhh.

When we were children, Chuckie (always a handful) called a woman that lived across the street from us Mrs. Banana. He never did say why. The woman was a sometime babysitter for us to her misfortune, and Chuckie thought she was interesting. Suffering from an advanced stoop back that may or may not have been osteoporosis, she walked in a fashion that made Chuckie think she was always looking down. He began following her to discover her reasons. After a day of Chuckie matching her step for step from behind, she finally stopped and turned to look at him. A woman of few words, she simply said,


Chuckie said, “Did you find it?”

Mrs. Banana repeated, “What?”

“The thing you are looking for,” he said.

The woman turned around and continued on her way without responding to the rude little boy who insisted on calling her Mrs. Banana.

It was Jenny whose action caused me to learn precisely how long it takes for an unpeeled banana to decay enough, while stuck in the cool and dark water somewhere beyond the first drainage bend of a toilet bowl, before it could finally be effectively plunged and flushed away. Her action also taught me how long I could hold off Grandpa Frank before he learned of a secretly stopped up toilet in the half bath. The time for both is: a tense nine days.

It would have been much easier if I had not been afraid to simply pull the toilet and then yank the banana out as we did when Grandpa Frank bit down on carrots sticking out of his mouth while using the facilities, flushing at the same time that the carrots struck the water. Of course, the carrots were pulled into the vortex and down they went, part of the way, into the same dark and cool water beyond the first bend. But that time, Grandpa Frank was the offender. I didn’t want to get Jenny—or any of us—in trouble, so we decided to wait it out and dump into the toilet anything that might hasten the decay of the banana. It would still flush, slowly, but the banana stayed firmly in place.

There are often no reasons beyond curiosity for the antics of children. When asked why she stuck an unpeeled banana into the toilet, Jenny told me that she wanted to see if it would flush away. She learned that it would not—for nine days, at least.

Something Jenny stuck elsewhere did not take quite as long before it emerged and required a little help. It required a glycerine suppository after a call to the pediatrician, during which, as I tried to tell the doctor where Jenny had put a marble, I lost it in a fit of laughter and it took me a while to get the words from my lips to the doctor’s ear.

When it was all over and there had been a resounding plunk in the toilet, I asked Jenny why, why, why would you put a marble there?

She said, “Joe was doing tricks with marbles in his nose, and blowing them out of his mouth into the bathtub, and I told him, watch this.”

Joe’s “trick” was an illusion. He pretended to put marbles in his nose and blow them out of his mouth. Jenny one-upped him. She didn’t pretend.

It’s no wonder I am nearly bananas.

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