Thursday, February 23, 2012

Monkeying around with bananas

I mentioned to a friend a while back that I felt self-conscious eating a banana in public, like I was afraid someone would snap a picture and invite cruel captions.

“I don’t know what you’re doing with your banana,” he said, “but you need to just bite it.”

Since last year, I’ve probably spent more time thinking about how to eat a banana than most people. That was when our 4th grader came home and said, “Look, here’s how Mr. Walker says monkeys eat bananas.”

She took a perfectly good banana, turned it upside down and squeezed the scab until it was nothing but peel and pudding.

Then she handed me the mess.

I don’t know how she expected me to react to her little demonstration. Perhaps she was hoping to engage me in some discussion of evolutionary quirks.

Instead I said, “What the hell are they teaching in school these days? Get your ass in your room and don’t come out until Mommy and me are good and drunk!”

I eat probably a banana a day. I love ‘em.

Here’s a fact: The flabby aerodynamics of a banana peel make it impossible to heave one more than 20 feet from a second story window across a tavern’s gravel parking lot.

That’s what I do with all mine. They degrade so quickly no one’s ever said, geez, how come there’s always a hazardous number of banana peels in The Pond parking lot?

I guess we can blame the Stooges for the mistaken belief that stepping on a banana peel can knock the legs out from under dimwits.

It happened all the time with the Stooges and it happened with the old battle ax played by Ethel Merman in the near-perfect 1963 screwball comedy, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”

But I’ve never seen it happen in real life. Seeing it happen to someone like Trump’s way up there on my bucket list.

I don’t know whether or not monkeys eat bananas upside down or not, but I know adding monkey to anything improves everything.

I was thinking about this as I was listening to a string of great rock monkey songs -- and wouldn’t that category improve the Grammys?

There’s “Monkey Man,” by The Stones, one of their finest; “Shock the Monkey” by Peter Gabriel; “Punish the Money” by Mark Knopfler; and the cheeky “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” by the Traveling Wilburys.

Delbert McClinton has “Monkey Around.” Chorus: “You made a man into a monkey, now that monkey’s gonna monkey around!”

I saw Bruce Springsteen monkeyin’ around with a backup singer the very night I heard him sing his great monkey song, the obscure “Part-Man, Part-Monkey.”

It was 1988, the “Tunnel of Love” tour. I remember seeing him actually making out on stage in between songs with a bandmate -- and it wasn’t Little Steven.

I know what you’re thinking: Shocking! A rock ‘n’ roll singer kissing a girl who wasn’t his wife!

Yes, my prudish friend, I remember thinking the exact same thing. At the time he was married to the luscious Julianne Philips, an ‘80s vixen who had more hair than the floor of an unswept beauty salon.

The on-stage woman with whom he was making out? Patti Scialfa, Springsteen’s wife since 1990.

“Part-Man, Part-Monkey” references the Scopes Monkey Trial and comes down squarely on the side of the chimps. And who can forget “Inherit The Wind,” the Spencer Tracy movie about the historic trial? Outstanding.

Val and I just watched another great monkey movie, 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” starring James Franco. We loved it, as did 83 percent of America’s critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

In it, the Franco character has a super-intelligent chimp for a chum. It turns out as well for him as it did for that crazy Long Island lady who owned Travis the pet chimp who attacked her friend, mauling her so badly she needed a face transplant.

It’s a horrific story and I always feel shame for chuckling when recalling the tabloid headlines that read “Furious George!”

So there you have it, a comprehensive story about bananas and monkeys.

Or as Troy McClure said on “The Simpsons” when he performed the musical version of “Planet of the Apes,” it has everything from “chimpan-A to chimpanzee!”

And now it’s time for me to peel and eat my banana. But first I’m closing the drapes.

I think we’ve all had enough monkey business for one day.


Tia said...

chimpan-a to chimpanzee. That's funny.

Chris Rodell said...

That's one of those lines so good it made me wish I was unethical enough to claim it as my own. Love the Simpsons!

John V said...

Apparently monkeys are to music what squirrels are to comedy. Everything's funnier with a squirrel. Or a midget. Or a guy getting kicked in the crotch. Theoretically the funniest thing you could ever see is a squirrel kicking a midget in the crotch, but to my knowledge that hasn't been attempted yet.

Chris Rodell said...

We can dream, John, we can dream.

Anonymous said...

You started out fine, but then where were you going with this? Was there a point you wanted to make, or were you just writing to write? There was a beginning, the middle just lost any direction, and there was no ending (except the formula one you tacked on there). Why not tell us why you eat a banana the way you eat it and why people (or you) might find it odd, and then give us a reason it is okay or not -- maybe a solution to the problem (if there is one), and then tell us all to go to hell?

Chris Rodell said...

Had I known anyone would four years after I wrote the piece read it with such a discerning eye I might have taken pains to compose something more worthy of posterity. As it was, I took about an hour of my day, wrote something for free and posted it. Then I began to think what I'd write next for free. If this didn't work for you on any level, then maybe check back in four years hence to see if I've gotten any better.