Story Short--The Banana Lady

Some might remember the story I'm about to share, because some of you might have read a version of it all the way back in Myspace land. Just like my Skydive Switzerland Story Short, I don't even know how many drafts I've written previously of the Banana Lady. I found one from about five years ago while organizing my writing files over winter break and I didn't love here goes take 23.

You know how on vacation you tend to meet people you probably wouldn't otherwise encounter...and you do things you probably wouldn't otherwise do. Well, I'd like to say it was just such a situation that led me to seek out the Banana Lady...except it wasn't. Once I heard about her, my mind decided right then it would not let up until I saw her perform. If she would have existed in Olympia, Washington I probably would have sought her out there too. But, as it were, my entertainment destiny took place in a little island known as Okinawa.

Ahhh...Okinawa. A tiny island just off of mainland Japan that cradled and coddled my evolution into adulthood in a way even I didn't know was possible. There are not many people who think of Okinawa the way I do. They don't remember themselves sitting on the edge of the ocean like I do. They don't remember the strength it took to conquer fears of drowning while learning to scuba diving nor the feelings of pure calm that eased in when "free falling" some 60 ft underwater. They don't remember tending bar until the early hours of the morning with girls who spoke mostly Japanese, and who became friends, and who stayed up well after the doors were closed to talk and laugh. They don't remember hiking through a jungle, reaching a secluded waterfall and cliff jumping into a little lagoon-like pool. They don't remember lying on the bow of a boat, heading back from an open-water dive, surrounded by an ocean of blues and greens and teeny tiny mini islands creating images so beautiful that you have to actually put down the camera to appreciate it. Mostly though, they just don't feel the instant warmth envelop their body at the mention of this place. Not like I do.

Plenty of people absolutely hated their time there. Being that some 40% of the island is covered by U.S. military, it is easy to understand that their forced circumstances as well as their reasons for being there differed from my own.  For me, at that time in my life, it was one of the most wonderful and most beautiful places I had ever lived. And while I will always remember it for all these reasons, my memory of the Banana Lady is not exactly an example of such remembrances. She simply can't be. It's not her way.

Instead, the Banana Lady has etched herself into my mind, not for her beauty, but for the skills she fostered and electrified upon the "stage". I was lucky enough to see her during my first stint on the island. Even though I lived in Okinawa for about a year total, my time was broken up into three month stays, and this first stay was ultimately profound for a number of reasons.

It is kind of hard to explain the difficulty my friend and I faced while attempting to see the show. We couldn't just go on our own because any streets off of the main roads in Okinawa are not exactly mapped out in a logical grid. Small, landmark-less, unidentifiable roads exist all over the island and so finding some seedy bar without a guide is practically impossible. Finding someone who had already seen the show, AND who had been sober enough to remember how to get there, AND who was actually willing to see the show again was, also, practically impossible.

One weekend we found a group of relatively young marines new to the island. They happend to be just drunk enough to be willing to join us AND one of them had actually seen the show before. He, of course, was the difficult one. He had absolutely no desire to revisit the performance. We had to offer to pay his way and buy him a couple of drinks BEFORE we went to the show in order for him to agree.

We were all pretty intoxicated once we reached the establishment. There was no line of excited patrons waiting, winding its way around the corner. Nope, just one man. As he took our money, he completely eye-balled my friend and I as if to question our morals for being in such a place. He called to someone and a woman walking very inefficiently in ridiculously tall heels led us to two tables right in front of the stage.

It was dark like a theater during coming attractions, just enough that our eyes had to adjust. Once they did, there wasn't much to the place. The "stage" was just a step up off the floor. There were only maybe ten tables total. A small bar was against the far wall and the woman who walked us in also then made up our drinks. I remember being excited that we were right in front, and I also remember the guy who had seen the show before was not. After about a half hour and a few more drinks, the woman who walked us to our seat and who made and served our drinks made her way onto the stage.

She proceeded to give a rather unenthusiastic dance performance. She spent the majority of the time staring at the ceiling as she moved her hips ungenerously about the stage. This went on for what seemed like hours. I feel like I also remember her finale included a huge snake, but I can't verify this.

There was a brief intermission when the opening act left the stage. Another woman, much older came out from some hidden back room and was arranging items about the stage. This was when I noticed the bunches and bunches of bananas. The lights dimmed even further and the music that began during the opening act was lowered substantially. The older woman who looked pretty good from afar was now center stage.

She wore a short, straight black wig that never seemed to find its place. She had on a short red mini-skirt and matching heels. She walked about the stage shimmying a bit here, shimmying a bit there. Hoots and hollers erupted from the audience, mostly from our two tables. She moved back a bit and grabbed a few props returning with a glass dish and a roll of quarters. She rolled the quarters not-at-all-seductively against her body and quickly lifted her skirt. She wore no panties--she was on a mission.

She expertly unrolled the quarters, keeping them all together, and pushed them up inside her. The room was no longer hollering. It was absolutely silent except for the low music in the background. She squatted over the dish and shot out the quarters one at a time..."cling, cling, cling" until there were no more.

She picked up her dish with the quarters and returned it to the back of the stage. While there she grabbed a bunch of bananas. She lay herself down directly in front of our tables sprawled out like we were her gynecologist and she was there for her annual check-up. She peeled the first victim, and as expected, stuck it up inside her. Once inserted, she began to shoot chunks of banana out into the audience. Silent no more, our tables rocked with laughter as pieces of moist banana shot out at us. Multiple pieces landed onto our tables and I vividly remember laughing so hard that I actually had to hold myself like a child so that I didn't piss all over myself. But her act wasn't over.

For the final act, she asked for a volunteer. As you can imagine no one stood up. However, there was this one guy from work who no one liked because he was a habitual liar. He happened to have tagged along without invite and I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this, and yes I feel bad about it, a little. After many moments of drunken coaxing from our tables he reluctantly went on stage. He was instructed to lie down on the floor. She danced around him for a while before stopping short, overtop his face. She slipped a banana up inside and instructed him to open his mouth. I'm fairly positive I peed a little at this point. He refused to open his mouth, but she nonetheless squatted over him and shot banana chunks directly at this face. This was the cherry on top of an otherwise perfect evening.

I have no recollection of our leaving, or of my co-worker cleaning himself up, but those few images of the Banana Lady will probably never leave me and nor should they.


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