I love being in my 40s. I have a pass to do whatever I want. It’s also a pass to come into my own and let go of old, dysfunctional patterns. A couple of weeks ago, some friends invited me to come hang out at their house. The next thing I knew, I was sitting there trying to talk myself into going. They aren’t really close friends of mine and I haven’t seen them in over a year. They also live almost 30 miles from me. In Los Angeles, you don’t do that kind of driving unless you are packed and prepped for a road trip. Besides that, this friendship over the years went through a slow decline as their maladjusted life, selfishness, and constant thirst for drama superseded their need for quality people in their circle. Had it been 10 years ago, hell even three, I would have gone without hesitation.
When I was a child, I was raised to not waste food. I’m a Southern girl from that “finish everything on your plate” generation. Wasting food was pure blasphemy. One of the ways Southern women make the most of leftovers is to revamp them into something different and delectable like Thanksgiving turkey hash or tossing old pasta into a frittata. Maybe the frittata thing was just me. That didn’t happen in my house. One of my mother’s favorite foods to revamp was bananas. Bananas are an economical staple fruit that you can just pick up and set aside until you’re ready to enjoy. As kids, my sister and I didn’t want to enjoy anything but hamburgers, hot dogs, and spaghetti so we certainly weren’t trying to eat fruit of any kind unless it was in a fried pie or cobbler. We figured that the longer we left the bananas alone, the darker they would get, therefore rendering them inedible.
My mother being the good (and economical) Southern woman she is had another plan. The banana bunch would be dark brown. You know how when you keep them way past spotty and sweet where the skin is paper thin and the fruit flies are having a field day? Any normal person would look at a bunch of black bananas and throw them away right? Wrong! Wrong! Mama took those black bananas, sliced those joints up and put them in our cereal. If she was feeling adventurous, she’d make pancakes with them. Either way, they were rotten bananas. Rotten, putrid, nasty, rank, and disgusting bananas. These weren’t the fresh crisp, pristine fruit slices we saw on the oh-so-popular cereal commercials from the 80s. You know the ones that showed happy kids and moms with a closing shot of the box, with the cereal, fresh fruit, a glass or orange juice, toast, and some milk? Why the hell was all of that shit in the closing shot anyway? I didn’t drink orange juice with my goddamn cereal. I also did not drink any milk on top of the milk that was already in my motherfucking cereal. That shit was stupid as hell. NT way…
These nasty ass banana slices would be sitting there, on top of my fruity oh’s or whatever the hell. I don’t think you’re supposed to be able to smell a cold breakfast, but I could smell these putrid bananas before anything else. The smell would travel up through my nostrils and cling to my olfactory nerves. I would just look at my bowl and want to cry. There was no turning my nose up and pulling a Tina Crawford. No ma’am. Mama did not play that. I had to eat it. I’m sure it took me 45 minutes to finish my bowl. It was horrible. I couldn’t wait to become a grownup so I could stop this madness. To this day, I do not like bananas. Well, I’ll eat them but I’ll only have them a certain way. They have to be super fresh and spotless. That’s how I’ll take them and that’s how I’ll eat them.
Now that I’m in my 40s I’m what the old school folks call a “grown-ass woman.” Like my grandma used to say, when you know better, you do better. After about 10 minutes of sitting there trying to talk myself into going to my old sort-of-friend’s gathering, I asked myself what the hell I was doing. If I was spending that much energy trying to convince myself that I needed to be around people that I don’t necessarily care for, then it’s time to let it go. Unfortunately, due to upbringing and programming, we often eat our rotten bananas without questioning why we are eating them. That rotten banana could be a clingy friend, a shitty job, a dysfunctional relative or any entity, doctrine or habit that no longer serves us.
What’s your rotten banana and why the hell are you still eating it?