I was eating lunch with some coworkers, sitting at the table, cracking jokes, talking about work and life and nothing in general. It was the usual lunch time banter, meant to relax and entertain us until it was time to head back to work. Same old, same old...right up until I reached for my banana and started to peel it.
That's when my colleague--who I shall refer to as Coll--suddenly stopped telling us the story of the fish he caught (and lost) last weekend; his eyes got big and he exclaimed, "Dude! You are freaking Tarzan!"
I was confused, and so were my other two coworkers, at Coll's sudden outburst. But Coll continued, "You, man!"
He was addressing me, which only confused me even more, so I asked, "What?"
"You!", he declared, "You peel your banana the wrong way!"
Once again, I asked, "What?"
"You peel your banana the wrong way!", he insisted.
At this point, I looked at Coll like he'd done lost his damned mind. My other two coworkers were also giving Coll the same look. But Coll explained, "You peeled your banana from the top, instead of the bottom, where the stem is. You're suppose to peel a banana from the stem end!"
Okay, now I know he's just crazy. The other two coworkers were now looking at the banana in my hand. I told Coll, "Dude, there's no right or wrong way to peel a banana. Just as long as you get the skin off and get to eat the banana, it doesn't really matter which end you peel first."
But Coll insisted, "No, you're supposed to peel the stem end first, jungle boy. That's why there's a stem!"
"Says who?", I asked, "Who decided that the stem end was the right way to peel a damned banana?"
"It's just the way it's done," said Coll, as if that would settle the matter.
"No, that's not just the way it's done," I replied, "There are many ways to peel a banana. I just peel off whatever end is easier to remove."
"The stem end is the easiest end to remove!", insisted Coll.
"No, it's not," I told him, "It's easier to just pinch the top end open, then start peeling from the top to the the stem end. The stem is just there to hold the banana to the rest of the bunch. And sometimes, the stem is lost when pulling off the banana from the bunch, and when that happens, it'll be easier to peel the skin off from that end since the skin will be broken there. Anyway, when you pinch and peel from the top, you don't get those annoying skin strings that come from peeling the stem end first."
"And how do you know that?", Coll challenged.
So I answered, "Because we grew bananas on the farm when I was growing up. All kinds of bananas--big, small, medium and in a range of colors from green to orange to yellow and even red. And I've peeled and ate them all in many different ways, and pinching the top end to start peeling is the easiest way to skin a ripe banana. So yeah, I know a little something about bananas."
Coworker number three interjected his support of my argument by revealing, "When I was in the jungles of Central and South America, I saw how the monkeys peeled their bananas. And they always peeled from the top end first."
There, I thought. That settles that stupid argument. But I was wrong.
After lunch, we returned to work, where Coll discussed with the others what had gone down and ignited the great 'Right way to peel a banana' office debate that took up all afternoon and was not settled when it was time to clock out.
I didn't know whether to be amazed or disturbed that my coworkers seemed more fired up about the right way to peel a banana than they were about doing their work. Even several supervisors and a manager got involved in the crazy banana peeling debate. A few times, the debaters got so animated in their arguments, waving their hands wildly and being loud that I actually thought I was in the jungle looking at a bunch of screeching, hooting monkeys! Everyone in the office had gone bananas! B-a-n-a-n-a-s!
We didn't reach a consensus at the end of the day. Daylight come and me wanna go home. A few people sided with Coll, that peeling a banana stem end first is the right way. Some sided with me that pinching and peeling the top end first was the simplest way to skin the banana. And a few others also shared my point that it didn't really matter which end you start peeling, as long the skin is removed and you can eat your banana.
I've never really given much though to the merits of peeling a banana. Really, all I'm focused on is removing the skin so I can eat the sweet, delicious banana. But now I'm curious. How do you peel your banana? And why do you peel it that way? And other than eating it by itself, what's your favorite way to use your banana? Mine is to mash up the really ripe ones and adding them to a pancake batter to make banana pancakes. What about you?