For those who have been around my blog for a while, you might have seen passing mention of a time when I attempted to fall on a banana peel. This is the full story.
It was early Saturday morning and I was ten. As a ten-year-old, Saturdays mean exactly one thing: instead of headed to school to try to figure out exactly how that multiplication thing works, you get to head to the kitchen, pour yourself a bowl of “Sergeant Sweetums Sugary Corn Syrup Bombs,” and head to the living room to sit too close to the TV. Once there, the bright flashing drawings of talking animals and humans with abnormally large heads would permeate the sugar-coated recesses of your brain for the rest of the day.
In those days, the creators of these shows were less concerned with education and more concerned with incredibly unrealistic violence. Pianos and anvils would fall from the sky, explosives would detonate directly into the face of a living being, and then the same characters would plummet from the top of a cliff. Instead of the certain death that such fates would surely bring about, though, these creatures would stand up, blink a few times, and then continue on with their idiotic adventure.
For years, I had watched these antics take place. Now, in the back of my mind, I knew that nothing featured in these cartoons were real. Rabbits do not regularly trick the hunters that are determined to shoot them, mice with strong Mexican stereotypes do not run unusually fast, and coyotes do not have the ability to order giant slingshots for nefarious purposes. Having fallen down several times myself, I understood how gravity works. I also knew that almost anything that happened in these cartoons would lead to a pretty serious case of death.
Repeatedly, though, I saw one thing that, if true, would not lead to death. It would probably just hurt my hindquarters. In nearly every cartoon and even occasionally drifting into a live-action feature would be a person walking down the street, minding their own business. Then, suddenly, his foot would land on a banana peel. He would be flung into the air, landing directly on the ground in a painful yet very humorous way.
I have no idea what it was about this particular Saturday. Perhaps I had too much cereal. Whatever the cause, I found myself watching people fall over and over and I began to wonder if it could be done. Would the outer layer of this fruit really cause the perfect pratfall?
I headed to the kitchen. For the foreseeable future, this would serve as my laboratory. The linoleum floor, I thought, would be the perfect surface for this particular experiment. I peeled a banana, then ate it while I planned exactly how this would work out. In every single cartoon, the person and/or animal has a bit of momentum built up before hitting that banana, flying into the air, and landing with a loud thud. Knowing this, I placed the banana in the middle of the floor. This would allow for five to six steps of uninterrupted walking before the moment of impact.
Finishing my banana, I stood back and began to walk. Left, right, left, right… then my left foot hit the peel.
Nothing. My foot did not slip at all. Not one to give up, though, I tried it again. The results turned out the same.
Okay, I thought. This is stupid. Clearly what I need is a bit more momentum. I picked that peel up and moved it several feet away. This was the best plan I could have. Stepping back, I looked at that peel. I was determined to make this happen. I began to move, this time jogging directly at the banana, my feet slapping against the linoleum.
As my foot hit the banana peel, it began to slide. This is it! Instead of a pratfall, though, my foot slid roughly half an inch, sliding the banana peel with it. Yes, it was mildly slippery, but there was no way I would be falling like this. I tried again and again. Over and over I tried to slide on this banana peel. At some point, I even decided that this might be a defective banana peel. On the off-chance this was correct, I kicked the original to the side and attempted to cause myself to fall on a new, unused banana peel, but with no avail.
After what must have been a half hour of dangerous fruit activities, my mother came in the back door from working in the backyard. What greeted her was a kitchen floor coated in banana residue gleaming in the morning sunlight.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
I shrugged. “Trying to slip on a banana peel,” I said in what must have been a very defeated voice.
I learned two valuable lessons that day. First, you cannot believe everything that you see in cartoons. In fact, you likely cannot believe anything you see in cartoons.
Secondly, and most important: your mother will not be happy if you smear banana all over her kitchen. Not in the slightest. As I was helping to clean up, she asked me a very important question that I had not even thought about.
“What would you have done if they really were slippery?”