Author’s note: The following story, as is the case for most material appearing in this space, is loosely based on true events.
I always used to carry a banana. A banana has many virtues. First off it provides the energy boost I need on my way to and from work. Aside from its caloric content and glucose boost there’s the wonderful brain boost provided by the potassium. I’ve heard it said that you’re never as sharp as right after eating a banana. I keep a stash of them at the office and an equally sized repository at home. And there’s no getting around the fact that there’s just something dashing about a banana. The curve and sweep of it. The distinctive color, the mottled complexion. The fact that it comes in its own natural sleeve. There are many reasons to like bananas. Many reasons to eat, many reasons to admire. What I don’t see is that there should be any reason to fear them. I hold that a banana is an innocuous thing. Unlike harder fruits and spherical or ovoid fruits, a banana makes a poor projectile. There’s a reason you’ve never heard of a failed stage production being pelted by a hail of bananas. There is just no way that a banana be used to maim or harm. The only offensive use to which a banana could possibly put is to tactically place the peal where your enemy will tread and hope to trip him up.
Of course, I never would have considered the status of the banana at such length had it not been forced upon me by the sweep of events. You see, the banana I was carrying to work one day became the centerpiece of an odd episode from which I have yet to fully recover. It was a perfectly ordinary banana: yellow, curved, mottled of skin, and bearing the adhesive mark of its cultivator. I was about halfway between home and office on the margin of a bust boulevard when the urge to scarf down my banana overcame me, right on schedule. I suppose that my hunger and my zeal to have it satisfied must have imbued my movements with a certain jauntiness, and that this practiced motion, rapidly effectuated, was what set the whole strange train of events in motion. No sooner had I produced the banana from my pocket and begun to peal it, you see, than a siren came on behind me and a voice ordered me to drop the firearm.
I simply stuck to my appointed course, not conceiving myself an appropriate target for such a command. When presently it was repeated I turned around to face the imperious bullhorn, directing a quizzical look at its operator. He assured me of the seriousness of his request by a second repetition. When I held the fruit forth in order to underscore its harmless nature the operator took cover under the steering column of his vehicle. Nor did he reappear for some time.
Not knowing what else to do, I resumed my course for my office. It did not take long for reinforcements to arrive to deal with the situation. In the time it would have taken to peel the banana, I was encircled by a ring of steel that drew shut with expert menace. I attempted to reason with them, but it was no use. A gaggle of men who lived in apparent terror of fruit advanced on me with their arms drawn. I was ordered to drop the firearm and get on my knees. When I insisted that I had no firearm in my possession I was rushed from behind, taken to the ground, and summarily parted from my banana. At some point in the scuffle I lost consciousness. When I came to and caught up with the flow of events, I found I had been charged with a trifecta: menacing a peace officer, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. Then there was the more immediately unpleasant fact that my stomach, having been deprived of its morning snack, was growling viciously.
It makes you think. It certainly made me think. I know now that there are alternate perceptions as to what a banana is, what it can be used for, and what steps may lawfully be taken to neutralize the threat it poses. Unwilling to depart from my custom of having a banana on my way to and from work, I’ve had to modify the way I go about it in light of these new realities. For instance, I no longer brandish the banana. Nor do I hold it in one hand and peel it with the thumb and forefinger of the other, as that is an act easily confused with the chambering of a bullet. I no longer peel the banana at all. Or rather I do, but not on the road. What I’ve taken to doing is mixing the banana in with some oatmeal to form a kind of gruel on the go. I eat it with a spoon chosen specifically for its innocent appearance. A painful compromise to be sure, but it beats the hassle of being seen as a nuisance to officer safety. My lawyer assures me that all three of the charges were filed in earnest and will not be dropped. I have no idea what to expect, but at least one source assures me that bananas figure prominently in prison fare.