Today I decided I wanted a banana. I really hadn’t planned on leaving the house at all. The heat in the Southern U.S. is killer this time of the year – I wilt like a clipped daisy in the sun. But this craving, oh my-this was a strong craving. I imagine it was akin to the cravings that pregnant women get, but I can’t say I’ve had the experience to know for sure. Still, it was strong enough to compel me to leave my air-conditioned bungalow, hop on my turquoise painted Schwinn, and head for the grocery store down the road.
The air was so thick I felt like I was biking through bath water, but the thought of a ripe, creamy banana kept me going. It’s nature’s perfect fruit, I tell ya. It gets tastier the longer you have it and it comes wrapped in a convenient package that will keep your hands from getting sticky while you eat it. The farther along I went, the more I started thinking of different banana preparations. By the time I made it to the store, I had already planned making the most glorious banana frappe known to man.
“Store closed for cleaning. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
I couldn’t give up now. I had already begun to sweat in pursuit of this banana and that sweat should not go to waste. I locked my bike up and decided to try the gas station. It seemed like a long shot, but I felt like I had seen some oranges there once.
The gas station was farther away than I had planned on going, but I was already committed. The attendant behind the counter was eating a banana when I walked in, so that was a good sign. When I asked her if there were any more bananas, she stopped mid-chew and dropped her Sharpie. She had been drawing mustaches on celebrities in a magazine.
No, she was eating the last one. She had been afraid it was going to go bad. After all, who buys fruit at a gas station? I know I had to have been the picture of disappointment. How could I not have been? The back of my shirt had a nice pyramid of sweat and for what? Absolutely nothing. No banana frappes, bananas foster, or plain bananas for me. Just sweat and sadness.
The woman carefully laid the peel on the counter so that what she hadn’t eaten yet of the banana’s insides wouldn’t touch the surface and held a finger up for me to wait. I watched her disappear into through a small door behind the counter and a moment later she came back out with a beautiful, perfectly ripe bunch of bananas. I called her an angel and she snorted, but I meant it. I paid for the banana, thanked her again, and went back out to my bike where I loaded the precious cargo into my wicker basket and strapped on my helmet.
Now that I had my bananas, I could finally focus on something else and I found the thing to focus on. I had just found my next story. Because when I looked into the door behind the woman in the gas station, I hadn’t seen a store-room, or even a break room–it was nothing more than a shallow broom closet. I had seen two shelves, a broom, and a mop. There certainly hadn’t been any bananas.
I think they’ll be seeing me at the gas station again very soon.