A Dole Banana, A dry wall screw and pair of levis jeans. Three items, common enough to work their way through politics, religion, social viewpoints. Three essentials that rarely elicited positive or negative feedback.
Three investigations Chase undertook for his Senior Seminar.
His goal was to fully document the creation. The chain of processes that make a Banana a feasible and affordable supermarket sundry. Motivated in part by dreams of unearthing scandal, a dungeon full of child slaves, hands glued to sewing machines with plastic feeing tubes. Somewhat motivated by the belief that a more complete knowledge would radically alter societies consumptive habits.
The book of Pain Principle 2: Pain can be measured.
Cross tabulated tables were wallpaper. Chi squares, regression analysis. The tools that promised definitive answers were cherished and used as decoration. By measuring the kilometers between banana field and supermarket, multiplying by an estimated true cost of oil, factoring in the jobs created along the way with dodgy dumby variables, Chase began to piece together a small story line.
Long grids of Banana plants strecthed across an earthy canvass. Old Mercedes trucks maneuvered in and out and in, looking for ripe groves. Banana plants birth small foot ball shape flowers that crawl up the watery spine of the plant. A carefree machete slap is plenty to fall a 15 foot banana plant. When a banana flower is spotted, emerging like a tough wart from below the skin, short men with plastic bags climb a short plastic ladder and pull plastic over the flowering fruit. Dole Bananas must arrive with a consistent ripening period and by bagging the fruits, maggots, birds, climatic shifts will not effect the eventual desirability. Dole sells millions of Bananas to Europe. Studies show that German consumers prefer long, straight, Bananas rather than little curvies. Dole is in the business of making Germans happy and today’s supermarket banana is pornographic airbrush of the true fruit’s psychical form and taste.
For one month, Chase bought Bananas by the crate. He must have spent $300 dollars on bananas. A plywood pantry in the basement of 318 Dale St., served as his library carrousel. Five bananas for breakfast, three bananas
between peanut butter for lunch, fried bananas, banana bread. BANANA. He slept on the peels, drawing sharpee faces on the cylindrical yellow tube socks for company. The bananas quickly became Chase’s primary company.
“Was it hard to cross the border?” Chase asked a freckled banana man.
“It must have been difficult. Months locked away in the dark, underneath pounds and pounds of your own. Stickered, sprayed and waxed like night tramps that consider asking for money. Your all done up. Ready for the shelves. Ready for the automated mistings and the grubby fingers inspecting your skin for imperfections.”
Chase’s friends would help him paint the bananas: blue furled uni brows, pierced ears and jagged teeth. If they discovered that one of Chase’s main forms of procrastination was to interview the curved personalities decaying in his room, they would probably paint more bananas. Partial insanity was encouraged, revered and
almost always considered a liberating force. Friends with a cursory understanding of Chase’s project pocketed their cell phones, avoided his door step, hoping in some childish way that Chase was figuring it out and should not be disturbed. As the Spring semester blew through Santa Cruz, carrying sea salt and moisture, twisting redwood leaves from torso thick branches, Chase tore through the internet, tore through library books and primary documents, tore through bic pens and index cards. Chase and his sleepless banana family, all sharing the same shelve.
Unlike most impassioned college seniors, Chase understood that few eyes if any would ever read his thesis work. Bound, stapled, formatted his thesis would sit on a shelf, next to a report on Costa Rican Tree Frog dispersion, below a research piece on the ionosphere 250 miles above earth’s surface, stagnant and untouched for years. Perhaps a future student would pull the 120 page thought ball down from head height, sift through introductory paragraphs, topic sentences and discussion sections, searching for some quick quotable figure to bolster a bibliography. The futility of the project was only a minor annoyance for Chase, he
pressed dirty fingered key strokes late into the night, pushed and pulled by an eager force to build strong foundations. Concrete that could seal his convictions, his friends Marxist habits, his Professor’s call to action.
Maybe at the end, with diploma in hand, shaking foreign hands and hugging proud family members, he would be able to walk with out a hunch, without a sullen critical eye focused on the world’s rampant shortcomings, maybe he will carry some knowledge or understanding that could explain why his culture’s proudest objects, interactions, and values made him sick in the head.