From Hard Green to Mushy Brown:
by Kaya Styn
These are the Days of Our Lives
It was through bananas that my young, impressionable mind first learned about the fragile cycle of life. I remember my mother would return from the store, cradling the bunch of unripe, sturdy bananas like precious infants.
"These are not ripe yet," She would say in her tender, maternal voice. "We have to wait and let time prepare them for us."
Since I had no younger siblings to play with, I passionately took to caring for these glowing, green gifts from the garden as if they were my own.
My mom would sit me down on rainy afternoons and tell me how my little green cylinders came to be. The whole reproductive story is kinda vague, but I remember the motion her wiggling fingers made representing the nourishing rain that "fed" the seedling. Despite the vivid tales of newborn fruit, the images in my head were much different than my later contact with Grandpa's real banana tree. I recall running outside to admire the mammoth tree in hopes of seeing young, healthy bananas that needed me to love and nurture them. But my eyes were quickly diverted from the flawless infant fruit to the brown and black carnage that covered the moist ground. I cautiously walked over to the tree --surveying the damage, like a medic after a battle-- and tried to keep my Buster Brown sneakers clean.
"A..A..Are th-those bananas, um, ... edible?" I asked my mom. She looked into my innocent eyes and put her arm around me.
"Those bananas have been around a long time, sweetie. They were once young like you and wore their yellow coats proudly. Now, like grandpa, their skin has aged and time has worn them down. They are tired and will now give back to the tree the nutrients that helped it grow."
I wiped a tear from my prepubescent eye and turned away from the eerie pile of mushy "nutrients". It didn't seem fair. Why these bananas? Why so soon? My mom pulled a golden, flawless banana from the tree. Its skin reflected the bright sun and seemed to gently peel itself with only mild encouragement from my scared, little hands. Beneath its beautiful skin, deep, brown bruises slowly revealed themselves.
"Hey Ma. Why is this banana brown inside?"
"Well," She said, searching for words, "Um... that is because, ...you know how sometimes people look fine, but really aren't?"
"Like crazy people?"
"No, well, yeah- I guess..."
"My banana's crazy ?"
"Get in the car ."
As my father gently pulled the gray Volvo out of the driveway, I looked out the backseat window and closely admired the skin of my grandfather. His soft, pink wrinkles presented little shadows along his worn face. I looked over at the smoother and more vibrant skin of my father, and then gazed on to the near perfect, soft, young skin of my brother. When I looked back at that big banana tree I felt a sense of peace. I leaned my head back against the brown, plastic seat, smiled and thought,
"Maybe I'll start eating pears."
I'll save the story of how my Mom used a banana to teach me proper condom use for another day.
more by Kaya:
Teen Sex Flicks
"Having a Blast"