Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bananna Man Sheds Skin of American Dream

Out of Work Man Gives Up
On American Mirage

10. 23.2010 by Winsip Custer CPW News Service

I will call him Banana Man.  He swings in a hammock between two coconut palms on a beach south of Veracruz, Mexico near a little village that is well off the drug smuggling routes to the North. He plays the song "Banana Man" on a silver coronet. He is an American who has given up on the American dream and is tired of America's political scene.  He smiles when I ask him about it and changes the tune to "What's it all about...ALFIE?".  He came here a year ago from New Orleans, Louisiana where he was let go from an oil refinery job when a series of cutbacks caught him and several of his friends up short, two of whom are hanging in hammocks just down the beach.  "That was just before the BP spill.  If I stayed I'd be working for BP," he said.

"A buddy of mine had a 36' Westerly ketch for sail and we chipped in and bought it for $3500 each.   It had been a little battered by Katrina, but was still seaworthy."  The boat sits at anchor in the small cove nearby.  Beyond the sea grass covered sand dunes is a row of small huts.  Blue, turquoise, pink, a brilliant orange and yellow.  The three men share a hut for a very reasonable $300 per month and shower with rain water, use a latrine just over the nearby dunes and buy fresh fruit and fish from a village boy who travels the beach with his donkey every morning.  They get beer and canned water and drinks in the nearby village and pay the boy extra to bring this and other necessities. "This hammock hangs from hooks in the corner of our hut at night.  Four corners.  Three hammocks.  We've got room to spare.  Room for one more hammock if you wanna' stay."

"You're obviously not married," I said.  "Was," he responded.  "It all came apart after I lost my job.  I was put to work every day minding the house.  I had my routine.  Dusting.  Vacuuming. Cooking and so on.  My wife was the daughter of a Marine drill instructor and she had to have things done a certain way. Spotlessly.  There was only one color she knew.  Shinny.   Floors.  Counter tops.  You name it.  Had to be spotless.  Ran her hand across the door mantels every night when she came home.  Then she came home one day to discover that I wasn't using the Electrolux to vacuum  the floors nor her mop."

I asked him what he was using and why this seemed to be such a turning point.

"Well I had this marvelous Toro yard vac in the garage and it could such a basketball through a straw.  I swear it would pull the pictures off the wall and bricks out of the fireplace.  I could vacuum a bedroom by standing in the corner.   I put her panty hose over the end of the thing and inside of its big leaf bag to keep the dog hair and dust in better.  I could do the whole 3000' house in about twenty minutes when before it took me an hour.  Then I put a steel rod on the end of my electric cordless drill and fixed a mop head to it.  Used a clean bucket of water with Pine Sol for the fresh water, another for the rinse water and a third bucket to spin the mop dry so I wouldn't have to wring the damn thing out each time nor use dirty water on the floors, but do you think that was a better idea?  Not to her. Zeeeeeeeeeezeeee....that thing would throw the floor grunge right up-side the bucket.   I'd rinse it and zzzzzeeeeeeeeeeeee. Spic'n span.   Worked great.  If I'd stayed in the States I'd have patented the design and retired rich, but what the hell for? So I could live with Sarge?  I don't worry about such things here.  A little dust never hurt anyone."

Banana Man returned to the states last summer for his daughter's wedding.  I asked him about his experience. He explained that he spoke at the rehearsal dinner. He gave me his notes which he kept in a small leather Bible in a duffle bag in his corner of the hut.

"I have the highest regard for marriage ever since Tammy Faye remarried after leaving Jim Baker.  William Sloan Coffin said that 'Faith is not belief without proof.  It is trust without reservation.'  Well, marriage is not slavery with iron shackles, but chains with invisible bonds. You are chained to each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health...chained by love and commitment to each other.  And while you need money, you should resist the urge to charge each other for your affections, especially if it's in order to get the grocery money, a haircut or a pedicure.  Now I know that we enter the marriage union with the highest ideals of unconditional love and commitment, but to overlook the tangible rewards of marriage is to miss it's lasting legacy.  Marriage is not sacrifice without thought of reward, but trust of receiving a reward with hope of minimal sacrifice, especially on Friday or Saturday night and sometimes on Sunday afternoons when the kids are napping. Marriage's greatest contribution is to give the beloved another person, a partner, upon whom to project an endless stream of reasons for your own shortcomings....that's on your bad days.  And on the good days, it gives you someone to thank for your successes, but not too much because you don't want to be ego deficient nor give your spouse a superiority complex.  Marriage is complex enough.  When your mother is ninety and needs to live with you because she doesn't want to live in a nursing home, it gives you a reason for staying together through thick and thin by living in separate cities.  I think that everyone should be institutionalized in the the blessed state of matrimony.  And why should it be limited to only straight people?  Crooked people might enjoy its ability to make the rough places plain and the crooked placed straight.  There's enough crooked places along life's long and winding road already.  And matriculation into marriage should not cost you any more than what you think the bride is worth.  Wedding rings are nowhere mentioned in the Bible as a symbol of marriage so I believe that we should do away with the wedding ring and instead give the wedding ear clips, like this one which I've patented and make available on my website www.earyweddingclips.com for only $349.99.   Isn't she worth at least that much?  I end with the words of Mark Twain who said of the music of Wagner, "it's better than it sounds."  Well marriage is better than it looks.  I wouldn't say it's 100% better, but somewhere around 50/50.  Which if I could get 50/50 as a batter in baseball I'm batting 500.  God bless you and thank you."

I asked if that was all that he said.  He said, "No,  I sang my ex-wife a song I wrote right here on this hammock."  He picked up a guitar leaning against the coconut tree by his coronet.  The refrain was rather haunting....

I'm heading to the islands where I'll fish and fish all day.
And if I don't catch nothin' I'll just drink my nights away.
I've had enough of your sweet love to last me 'til I die.
I'm headin' to the islands where I soak up sun and fly....like a bird!
Then he put down the guitar and started playing "Bananna Man" on his coronet as he laid back in his hammock.

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