The Problems with a Banana

Bananas are gross, everybody. It's clear not everyone agrees, because I see you shoving those disgusting fruit tubes into your mouths on the train, in the meeting, even feeding it to your unsuspecting children who are too weak to defend themselves. They sneak themselves into fruit salads and can't stand not to have a starring role in a smoothie. They're everywhere. They show up in ice cream, despite never having gotten an invitation to the dessert party. They ruin pancakes. They make you pull vanilla wafers off of them when they show up in the guise of pudding.

Bananas are vile. Bananas are the most boorish of all the fruits. 

Let's start with the smell. Actually, let's don't, because just thinking of it is causing me to gag. Instead, let's go with the texture, which is the banana's biggest flaw. It's somehow both fiberous and gelatinous at the same time! It's an awful and embarrassing tango that revulses the tongue. It's squishy. And hairy. There are little banana hairs on it, people.

Hate-is-a-very-strong-word-dont-forget-that-3And yet you eat them with consistent relish. You keep one in your bag, bouncing around, ready to stink up the nearest study hall. You wait until they brown and then adulterate one of the best things in life: bread. There are banana festivals and banana forums and a banana museum. 

Thing is, I've been burned by bananas so many times. I have wanted to like them. I have gone back and given them so many chances. I admit, they can be comely. But more than that they are utilitarian. They have their own handy protective jacket that you can shed in even, easy strips. That does seem satisfying. But even one bit of banana near my nose or mouth causes my throat to close up. I can't do it. 

I had a similar gripe with raisins, but have recently come around to them. My palate has, like most everyone's, become more accepting and sophisticated over time. But I'll never like a banana. I would most certainly vote the banana off of the fruit island. In fact, it has a lot of nerve calling itself a fruit. Try an abomination

In summary: bananas are the worst. Down with bananas. 

[image credit: cocoa likes this!]

Here Today, Gone Today

This morning I got up at the break of dawn to have a part of my body removed.


See that thing on the side of my neck? It's not there anymore. It was a giant mole that I've had since I was a kid, right there on the side of my neck. It was quite a bulbous thing, so much so that once a child too young to yet grasp social graces asked me if I had a tick on my neck.

I noticed that the mole had changed shape over time. It had gotten bigger, its edges more ragged. It was bigger than a pencil eraser and had multiple colors throughout. If you are playing along at home, these are all the signs of a potentially malignent mole that could signal skin cancer. 

I waited wayyyyyyyyy too long to have a doctor look at it, but when I finally did he assured me it wasn't cancer. He was sure of it.

"But that thing is pretty gnarly, so if you want to get it removed, I would. Does it hurt? Good. Then it's covered." And with that my doctor handed me a business card for a dermatologist and instructions on how to make an appointment.

That appointment was this morning. I took the bus downtown and walked to 450 Sutter St, which happens to have one of the most stunningly gorgeous lobbies I've ever stepped foot in. An elevator to the 14th floor sent me to a waiting room with a view of Coit Tower and pamphlets about how injections of Restylane are what I need to get a perfect pout that is 40% upper lip, 60% lower lip, 100% willing sex goddess. 

After a brief wait I was escorted into a physician's room where a physician looked at my garish mole. 

"My gut says it isn't cancer, but last week I said the same thing to another guy and his biopsy came back bad news, so you never know."

She said it with a smile. Then she told me how this whole removal process was going to go down.

"I'm going to give you a shot in the neck. It's an anaesthetic. Then I'll use a blade to slowly scrape the mole off."

That's when the fear and dread set in. They wanted to scrape a mole from my neck with a blade, and I wanted to run out to the elevators and not look back.

"That sounds painful." I said it with a smile. 

"The anaesthesia is the worst part."

"You mean the shot to the neck is worse than the scraping with a blade?"

"Lie back."

Then she came at my exposed neck with a syringe! 

She was right that that was the worst part.

She took a blade to my flesh and less than a minute later that disgusting mole was in a device for made for transportation and off to a lab. Then she closed up open blood vessels with some device that emitted a weird smell (science!).

"We're done, by the way," she told me. Then I issued a platitude about the fear always being worse than the thing itself.


Before I left I was given a prescription for a lightening cream for dark spots on my face. The ones I didn't know I had.

And that was that. In under two minutes a woman in a white coat removed a part of me I've seen in the mirror every day for decades. Now it's in a glass tube somwhere waiting to be biopsied. Waiting to be dissected to tell what might lie ahead.

12-Folsom, 8:40 a.m. inbound

A man with long hair wears a purple sweatshirt, lavendar in shade. He stands beside a purple door, under a purple sign drinking something warm enough to steam from a delicate fine china mug.

A group of people are running. All of them are wearing black long sleeves and long black pants. Their exercise appears to be punshiment, but no one within eyeshot is making them do anything.

A man in baggy pants covered in paint gives directions to a frazzled suit in a BMW. The driver seems relieved, so thankful.

There are champagne colored camisoles at the sex shop on display beside double-sided dildos. They look well-made and soft beside the garish primary-colored ads for new South of Market condos.

We pass that pizza restaurant where I discovered my favorite bourbon while sitting beside my favorite person just as the sun and fog refract off of skyscraper glass to create a giant sparkle sky mirage.

Everywhere there are pretty girls. All over there are pretty boys. The streets are crawling with furrowed brows.

A young woman is wearing a baggy sweatshirt and ballet slippers, the actual kind, the kind in the barest pink, meant explicitly for dance.

A woman on the bus is reading a big book. Not thick, it is the size and shape of a book you read to a preschool class.

I catch the look between strangers who decide together not to cross just about the time we cruise past the plaza where we used to meet.

There is a box of spilled art supplies. Paints are running into the grates and out into the ocean where they will color nothing. 

She spilled coffee on her nice dress. Not the woman in thick heels with a plain face who nonetheless looks like a movie star. She clearly drinks tea.

Make Out Room

Pink overhead lights made the place look hot. Glasses were stacked waiting to be filled, to be gripped, to sweat, to make hands moist. Music played, the kind you don't really hear.

The only people were on stage. Deep in each others mouths, they danced a slow dance. Perhaps it was a performance, but not to me.

The People That We Meet

When taking public transportation in the Bay Area I make sure I have three essential things: my Clipper card, a fat sack of patience and a sturdy pair of headphones. The last item is mandatory. Those headphones allow me to opt out of catcalls ("Lalala, I can't hear you over Robyn!"), drown out the poor lady in the seat beside me conversing with the people who exist only in her head and otherwise ignore the swamp of humanity that is taking the same route I am.

I boarded the 12-Folsom outside my office yesterday after a quick sprint. The driver pulled far, far ahead of the actual stop so that everyone waiting had to break into a run in order to avoid being left to wait another 25 minutes for a bus. Climbing aboard I saw all seats full except for one beside a little girl who was splayed across her seat and the one empty next to her. I opted to stand. That is, until the bus became so full that it was better for all involved if I took the empty seat. So, I did.

That's when the little girl looked up at me and let out a huge smile. "Hi," she said.

I said hello back. I smiled down at her but planned to keep listening to the music on my headphones. That's when she offered me her hot dog.

This sweet girl, all bangs and grins, hot dog bun stuck between each of her tiny teeth, wanted to share her food with me.

I politely declined, but pulled my headphones down around my neck. 

"I'm four," she told me.

"I would have guessed five," I said, remembering how I always wanted to be older when I was a kid.

"I don't want to be five!," she insisted. 

"Oh! Well. You are four now. So, live it up." She grinned her white bread grin.

"How old are you?," she wanted to know. I told her I am 35 and her eyes went wide.

"You are old!," she said in shock, and her mother shushed her then sheepishly apologized to me with her face.

Didn't matter. I was enraptured by this child.

"Where did you get that hot dog?," I asked her.

"Chinatown," she told me. When I was four I'd never been on a public bus, nor did I know what a Chinatown was. 

We counted for a while. She knew what was after nine, even, getting all the way up into the double digits without a struggle.

"I take the N-Judah," this little girl said. She knew which train took her home, out by the beach, into the Sunset.  

"Do you have a donkey?," she asked me, or at least I thought. She actually said doggie.

"No, but I have two cats." 

"What are their names?"

"One is named Goat and one is named Gracie."

"Gracie!," she squealed, as if that was the funnier of the two names.

"Is Gracie a girl?"

"She is. Just like you, but a little hairier." This made her laugh with her whole body.

Then it was time for me to get off the bus. I waved goodbye to her and put my headphones back on.

Just a moment or two later I saw her deboard with her mom and brother in tow. The sweet little girl, still clutching half a hot dog, pointed at me, grinning wildly, and said something to her mom. I couldn't hear her over the music.

Man-Made Relief

I get so wound up, so nervous, so worried--so very, very worried--that I sneak off to the little park down the street, though it is not much of a park. There are man-made falls of water, a man-made creek all clear and clean, that meanders through this corporate nature space. It was all carved out and paid for by the people who make Levi's Jeans. 

There's a giant tree in the park with long limbs and leaves like hair that shade a whole bunch of stuff, but it's not for me. I climb the hill and crawl into the grass and lie back and listen to the man-made waterfalls and the man-driven cars and the man-announced tour buses and try to pretend I'm deep in some thick, safe woods so that I can calm down.