Friday, September 16, 2011

One Day and a Banana

My mom calculated in her emailed birthday greeting today that were I living in California, I would be 23 hours 23 minutes short of 45. As we are in Tonga, however, today is the big day. She then helpfully pointed out that "one day is only important to a banana".

Speaking of bananas, here is a fact of South Pacific cruising life that no one bothers to mention in the cruising guides: all 100 bananas in a stem inevitably ripens simultaneously. You buy a stem on some island between here and there for a small number of strangely shaped coins with tikis and phalluses on one side and a monarch on the other. A stem consists of maybe a dozen hands, each hand representing between 5 to 15 bananas. On the day of purchase, they are all a deep, vivid green. You hang the stem in the cockpit being sure to cross tie it so that the stem doesn't gain too much momentum in a heavy sea. A stem of bananas is incredibly heavy and while green it is incredibly hard with nasty little sharp ends. Do not underestimate the power of a swinging stem to clonk you on the head and knock you out. The theory is the stem should ripen from the bottom to the top over the course of a few days. Instead what happens is that it doesn't ripen at all for a week, sometimes two. Then one day, a member of the crew spots a slightly yellow banana. At this point, brace yourself. Pull out the butter, flour, cinnamon and sugar. Make yogurt. Hide all other forms of fruit so that the crew has no choice whatsoever. This is all in preparation for the following day when at a pace so rapid that you can literally stand in the cockpit and watch it happen, the entire stem ripens. Within 10 hours, you go from fruitless to the proud owner of a metric buttload of sticky sweet, smelly, overripe bananas.

My children have a lot in common with bananas. For years, they were little, green, tart, and hard as rocks. I would hang them in the cockpit to keep them out of the way where they would swing like monkeys until someone got clonked on the head. Suddenly -- at a pace so rapid that we could literally stand in the cockpit and watch it happen -- they grew into ripe, sweet, beautiful women. There are boobs all over everywhere and shapely hips and bottoms. Long legs, flowing hair, big eyes, graceful gestures. In short, the girls are everything their mother never achieved: gorgeous young ladies. Either the Conger genes are kicking in or my mother is getting her karmic vengeance on her tomboy of a daughter. Even Aeron is starting to show signs of the woman she will become. Her face is changing, her body lengthening, her voice dropping just a bit.

The progesterone is starting to get to my husband. He actually disappears in the evenings sometimes to spend time on boy boats. One night he got drunk with other men at a bar while watching a game of rugby! So masculine! So Kiwi!! He has no idea how bad it is going to get, however, when we make landfall. Right now the girls are isolated on a boat in the middle of the ocean. In Auckland, they will be attending high school. With lots of high school boys. After all these years, it might be time for DrC to rethink his position on the right to bear arms. Alternatively, we may spend a lot of time anchored out in the middle of the harbor. There is nothing like a half mile of 40 degree sea water to cool the ardor of prospective suitors.

After 45 years, it is too late for me to be a slim pretty banana, of course. I'm just going to be slim. I am healthier right now than I have been since my 40th having dropped nearly 30 pounds in the past 6 months. Jaime is starting to worry about me, says I don't eat enough. The schools and media are so preachy (and rightfully so!) to teenage girls about the hazards of anorexia that my eldest is convinced I am a candidate for psychological counseling. I'm less worried about how skinny I am then about how I'm going to stay this way in the Land of Cheese, Pie, and Bakehouses. The bread is a problem, too. On the whole, though, it's not so bad being a slim, ripe banana. DrC still thinks I'm tasty despite all the brown spots.


Unknown said...

Happy Birthday Toast, may you have many many more -


judith said...

Happy b'day, live it up for the next 5 yrs. It really goes south once you reach 50.

Pascale s/v Calou said...

So funny! Have a banana for me!

Pascale s/v Calou said...

Happy Birthday!

Sherry said...

Happy Birthday, Toast. Have a great one!

Singing Land Cruiser said...

Happy "B" Day my dear Toast. M&C