Posted in FAMILY LORE, Southernisms

Counting Bananas

Four stray bananas tumbled out of the grocery bag onto the kitchen counter, “You know Shuggy, you can buy bananas in bunches.  You can even buy more than 4 at a time.”  My banana buying habit was an enigma to my husband.

“Oh I know.  That’s just the way I buy them.  Besides I used to buy 2 per week when I was single.  So I logically I buy 4 now.”  I smiled triumphantly at my rational explanation. But deep inside I knew my counting bananas was far from logic.  I’d learned about the importance of counting bananas from Brother decades earlier.

As the youngest child of a single, working mother,  I was given over to the care of my siblings.   Two active sisters – a protective 11 year, a curious 8 year old and her twin  brother.

Brother intrigued me as a child.  He was so unlike my sisters who were popular, outgoing.  Brother was quiet and shrouded in mystery.   Why was his room off limits?  Who were his friends?  Where did he go after school?  Sometimes I would ask about his mysterious travels.

“Just taking care of business.” He would say in a quiet, low voice as if almost revealing a great secret.  Today I question how much “business” could a 13 year old boy have.   But to a 5 year-old this was brilliant!   Brother didn’t talk much, but when he did I believed every outlandish word.

One day Brother watched me devouring bananas.  I had gleefully snagged another one from the bunch.  Momma didn’t put limits on healthy snacks.   And bananas, unlike the more troublesome oranges or grapefruits,  was a food my little fingers could undress with ease.  As I cheerfully ate my second banana, Brother bent down and whispered another secret in my ear.

 “You know, if you eat more than 3 bananas in one day you’ll turn into a monkey.”

213H McGuire

I was horrified!   Yet grateful.  My Brother had saved me from the trauma of a drastic species change.  My eyes widened as I imagined myself munching that fatal 4th banana and POOF!  “Momma would be so mad to have a monkey  baby.” My young mind carefully considered the consequences.

Unconsciously Brother’s simian warning stuck with me well into adulthood.  I avoided buying bunches of bananas least a miscalculated bite ended in disaster.

I’ve since shared this childhood memory with my husband.  Billy’s repeated reminders of banana availability has helped me make some progress.

Now I buy bunches of bananas.  Sometimes up to 6 at a time.  I’m so proud of myself!  Then Billy snickers: “Mmmm … 3 for me and 3 for you.  That should keep us both safe.”  

Bananas image credit: McGuire











Hi! I'm Denise Massey - the funny face behind ArtReach at Home. My past: museum curator, art teacher and consultant. Today: a blogger sharing creativity and personal stories about life in the South.