You know that feeling of being called out for doing something weird? That “Oh no, I’m completely alone here” moment? At first it’s embarrassing, but then it somehow becomes empowering, right? Being backed into a corner, forced to die on a hill that you never intended to be on in the first place?
Well, I recently experienced that array of emotions when I found out I have been eating a banana wrong my whole life.
Here’s what I do:
I peel the banana completely
I throw away the banana peel
I eat the bare banana with my bare hands
To me, this is just smart banana eating. A banana isn’t gross, so I just never clocked it as something that I shouldn’t eat with my bare hands. It’s not like I’m eating handfuls of apple pie or using my hands to cup clam chowder into my mouth. It’s a banana! It has a benign texture. Nobody complains about how their hands get stained with banana. You know what’s actually gross? Eating Cheetos with your fingers and then licking the cheese dust off of said fingers. Buffalo chicken wings and the million dirty napkins they produce. Bargain pizza that somehow makes the outside of your entire mouth greasy.
Plus, I wash my hands frequently. And I’m talking pre-Covid, too. I’ve always been a clean dude, a neat cook, and an upstanding member of society. So no, I don’t worry about getting banana on my hands, and I don’t slowly peel a banana either because I have things to do. I’m a busy, modern man. I don’t have time to do anything more than hastily inhale my tree fruit.
It took 34 years for someone to call me out for eating a banana this way. It was my friend, comedian Joe Kwaczala. It was Christmas 2019. We’re both from Pittsburgh, and Joe asked me to open for him at a comedy club inside the Mohegan Sun Casino. So, we left our families fresh after Christmas Day to go do some comedy together. While at the airport, he saw me eat a banana “Palumbo style” and he seemed horrified, if not a little dramatic. In the spirit of good journalism, I asked him for a statement regarding that day. Here’s what he said:
I laughed at first. Surely this was a joke! We’re talking about a banana here, one of the only foods that comes with a natural wrapper, as if designed by God to keep your dirty little hands from touching it. Why on Earth would you dismiss this miraculous convenience? And at a disgusting place like the airport, no less? But Danny’s reaction to my laughter was one of indignation. “This is normal!” he more or less shouted at me. He doth protest too much? I immediately snapped some pictures to post online. This was not so much to ridicule as it was to show Danny the error of his ways; this is not normal. But much like any attempt to sway the opinion of someone on the fringes of belief (flat-earthers, 9/11 truthers), the sharing of evidence only made him dig his heels in further. At that moment, I knew two things to be true: you absolutely do not fully peel a banana before eating it, and I had abandoned my family to embark on a weekend trip alone with a man who had lost his mind.
After realizing I had been eating a banana wrong my whole life, I immediately called my mother. Not to console me, but to ask, “Hey, do you guys eat a banana this way and that’s why I do this?” To which she pretty much cut me off to say, “No. None of us do that. Don’t drag us into this mess. We are not the reason you’re weird.”
So if I didn’t learn how to eat a banana this way from my family, where did I learn it? Why did I start doing it? Then it hit me: I came to this approach all on my own. And guess what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Actually, you’re eating a banana wrong, Joe (Joe’s followers on social media). But, the more I ask friends how they eat a banana, the more it becomes clear that nobody is on my team. Now I’m firmly on this hill I hadn’t realized I had been climbing my entire life. I’m indignant. I earnestly ask myself, “Is this what it’s like to be a genius? Am I brave?” I double down even more, pointing my finger at everybody else. You’re all the crazy ones. Joe’s “natural wrapper” argument is false, because what do you do with wrappers? That’s right, you throw them away. Plus if the whole point is to protect your hands from this dirty, stained banana, guess what? You still need to use your hands to extract that last little bit of banana from the peel anyways! Your argument against mine doesn’t make any sense!
I know I’m in the minority here, but despite the overwhelming criticism, I’m not going to eat a banana differently. Roast me. Scold me. Whatever. I’m sure I do lots of things that people scratch their heads over. It’s called being a pioneer. And I’m sure you, reader, have something you do that you’re positive is a better, more efficient way of eating. And unlike my friend Joe, I’ll be willing to hear you out. You want to know why? Because us trailblazers have to stick together.
Maybe next time we can talk about how I used to eat salad with my hands. Until then, happy banana eating.