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How Bananas Turn Brown

My family doesn't like brown bananas. They prefer the bright yellow ones with a slight greenish tinge. The kind where they're still bitter because they're not yet ripe.

I'm the only one who likes brown bananas. Not icky brown, when they're completely mushy, but when they start getting their spots. Like a leopard.

"Bananas are not like leopards," said my son. At age ten, he usually believes everything I tell him, but he wasn't buying this one.

"Sure they are," I said. "Bananas are like leopards. When they're born, they don't have any spots. They're smooth and brown, kind of orange. But as they get older — and this all happens within a few hours after they're first exposed to sunlight — their spots begin to emerge."

"Daddy, I don't think that's how leopards work."

"Sure it is. They kind of work like fawns, only in reverse. When a fawn is born, they have spots."

"What's a fawn?"

"A baby deer."

"You mean like Bambi?"

"Yes, like Bambi. And leopards are like that, but only in reverse. When a deer is first born, it has spots. But because their fur is so short, you can see the spots on their skin, and it gets on their fur. As the fawn grows bigger, their fur grows longer, their mothers get shot by hunters, and they finally grow out of their their spots. But leopards work the opposite way — as they grow, they reach their spots, and those appear on their fur."

"But that's not what they said on the Discovery Channel," said my son.

"What does the Discovery Channel know?"

"A lot. They're a TV channel. You have to know a lot to have a TV channel."

"That's not true. To have a TV channel, a group of greedy investors come up with a way to get advertisers to give them a lot of money. Since no one will just pay to put commercials on a station that shows nothing but commercials, they need to put something interesting on. So, someone made a TV station for sports, and someone made a TV station for food, and then someone else made a TV station for cultural and artistic programs. And then those people decided there was more money to be made in programs where people wallow in their own filth and misery, and they took the culture and art away."

"What are you talking about?"

"Bananas. Now pay attention."

"What do TV stations have to do with bananas?"

"A lot. You know that food channel I mentioned?"

"Yeah."

"Well, bananas are food. Now let me finish. The station owners come up with some terrible programming they think a lot of people will watch. If a lot of people watch, they can sell air time for a lot of money so advertisers can reach people who like terrible TV shows. And the dumber the shows, the more people will watch, which means they can charge more for ads. And that's what it takes to have a TV station."

"But what does all that mean?"

"It means you can't believe everything you've seen on TV. Which means all that BS you heard about bananas from the Discovery Channel—"

"Leopards."

"What?"

"Leopards. I learned about leopards on the Discovery Channel."

"Well, I'm talking about the Food Network and bananas. You see, bananas turn brown, because they're reaching full maturity. When a banana starts getting brown and spotty, that's when it reaches its peak, because it tastes more like a banana than any other time in its life."

"But why?"

"Because all the true essence of the banana flavor is in the skin. And when it has a chance to sit, it soaks into the banana, filling it with flavor, sort of like how you let a wine age. When a wine ages, it pulls all of its flavor from the oak barrel and all the different fruits they put in the wine barrels."

"Fruit like bananas?"

"Absolutely. A lot of wine is made with bananas. Anyway, as the flavor runs out of the skin, it gets empty in that spot, and the skin turns brown."

"Really?"

"You bet. So when the banana turns a really spotty brown, like freckles—"

"Or a leopard?" asked my son.

"Yes, like a leopard — then that means the flavor has run out and it's ready to eat."

"Are you serious?"

"Hand to God, son. Hand to God."

My wife, who had been reading on the couch, finally spoke up.

"If you don't know how something works, just say so," she said. "This is why I don't let you do home school with the kids."


The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and my other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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