Long ago, in the cavern of time, when I was a young mom and my son was 8 or 9, there was the celebrating of every holiday together, and particular fun come April 1st.
According to the scholarly words of Wikipedia:
“April Fools’ Day (sometimes called All Fools’ Day) is an informal holiday celebrated every year on April 1. Popular since medieval times, the day is not a national holiday in any country, but it is widely recognized throughout European cultures and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other, called April fools. Hoax stories are also often found in the press and media on this day. Precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held March 25,and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28, still a day on which pranks are played in Spanish-speaking countries.”
I used to pack my son’s lunches every school day morning, with all manner of home-made goods he voraciously loved, as well as the occasional candy bars and chips. We ate well, but in those days were not purists in the organic sense by any means. This particular morning, I had a smile on my face at the joke I’d play.
But I need to back up, and then fast forward, to fill you in on what bananas truly mean to me.
Back to the farther, deeper recesses in the cavern of time when my twin sister and I were about 8 or 9. Our dad had taken us to Woolworth’s — remember Woolworth’s??? Or some variation of that type of old timey drugstore/cheap department store. He must have had an errand to run there, and he told us we could pick out a little something, too. We walked the aisles, two little girls, big eyed, perusing the goods. We came upon the aisle that contained all manner of living room knick-knacks and table decor. For some to-this-day unfathomable reason, we were entranced with the bins of artificial fruit. You remember, the clusters of plastic grapes, the apples, the lemons and limes. The bananas. Why oh why did we choose a rubber banana as the gift that our dad would buy us? This is what he didn’t get, as he beseeched us to pick out a game, a toy, something useful instead. But my sister would have none of that. She gathered her resolve, and stood up for the choice of our rubber banana, and gave our dad an eight year old fury punch in the stomach.
Our dad, being our dad, burst out laughing.
We came home with our banana, and the joke lasted his entire lifetime.
Towards the end of his life, when he and our mom had been convinced that the best thing for them to do was to move into assisted living, our dad’s sparkle and brightness had dimmed. As he put it to me during a very lucid moment – ever since his surgery, he hadn’t been running on all four cylinders. But glimpses of his brilliance and unique humor could still be experienced, especially with encouragement. I flew out to visit my folks during this time, and knew in my heart a gift I wanted to give him. I was going to be arriving on Father’s Day. His drive from their home to the airport was one of the last times he drove their car. He got terribly lost, driving this stretch he had driven time and time again, but eventually, to his great relief, he found the airport, and brought himself through the revolving door to meet me. He wanted to grab my suitcase and go. But I could see, I knew. His hair was disheveled, and he was obviously flustered. I asked him to have a seat beside me. I had a little present for him.
I rooted around in my backpack, and pulled out his gift. It was a rubber banana, with the words Happy Father’s Day inscribed down it’s length. As he took it and held it in his hands, the tension softened. He relaxed, and laughed. My dad was back, for a little while, and we held hands. His huge hand was around mine, and I gave it a squeeze. Our eyes twinkled.
When it was time, when the plans were all in place, and the move to the assisted living facility was on, I was there to help. We were getting suitcases down, and my dad was packing his. I walked in just as he said he was all packed, and looked inside his suitcase. It was huge, a giant unzippered case, and all that was in it were a few pairs of boxer shorts, a couple pairs of socks, and my rubber banana. I convinced him he needed to bring a little more.
You have probably guessed by now, what I slipped into my son’s lunchbox that April Fool’s Day way back when. That’s right, along with his sandwich, his cookies, his handful of chips – was, smilingly, and naturally, a rubber banana.
I’m told his friends thought I was awesome. What a great joke to play on your son!
But truly, without my history, my family – my awesomeness would not have been quite the same. I feel it is probably accurate to say, that our family is likely singular in passing down the humor, the hilarity, the passion…. of a puny, tough, unpeelable rubber banana.
When all else fails, you can probably make banana jam. It will be lovely! Unexpected. Tropical…
- 1 banana (peelable – real)
- lime zest – a good teaspoon
- fresh lime juice
- a few grates of cardamom, or nutmeg
Mash the ingredients together until a jammy consistency is reached. Delicious on French toast, warm bread, scones, or smeared on a toasted tortilla…