Top Banana

Although I had been friends with Laura since we were five, we had never lived together, so when we decided to share a flat the year after college, we had the usual roommate worries: Will our furniture match? What if our taste in TV is totally different? What if she steps on the bathmat with soaking wet feet?
As it turned out, living with her was a dream, all except for one thing – the refrigerator. Or more accurately, the refrigerator magnet. I distinctly remember the day Laura slapped it on the refrigerator, a grocery list held securely in its grasp.
“Uh, Laura? What’s this?”
“What? Oh – the magnet? My grandmother gave me that.”
It was a bright yellow plastic banana, with a smiling face, and the words, “Top Banana” written across the peel in permanent black marker.
“Your grandma wrote ‘Top Banana’ on a magnet and gave it to you?”
Laura nodded, “Uh huh,” and went back to doing the dishes.
A few minutes later, I walked back into the kitchen and said, “So… what? Your grandmother thinks you’re the top banana around here?”
“Pretty much.”
“That doesn’t seem right.”
“How so?”
“Well, what am I supposed to be?”
“Guess that would make you second banana.”
Month after month I was forced to stare at that banana, rubbing Laura’s status in my face every time I grabbed a can of soda or a piece of cheese. From time to time, I would move the magnet away from my line of vision – down low by the door handle, or on the side by the stove. But every day, it would end up right where it started – perfectly at eye level, mocking me.
Laura’s grandmother became known to us simply as “Banana Grandma,” and for years later, I would tease her that her gift to Laura made me feel inferior.
“Laura totally flaunts it, you know. The whole ‘Top Banana’ thing. I think you’re giving her a big head. I mean, who made her top banana?”
Her grandmother would just laugh whenever we brought up the magnet. Where was she from, with that sweet accent? I can’t remember. But I remember that she called me Jinny, and it reminded me of how Miss Harris, my first grade teacher, would say my name in her southern drawl.
A few years ago, I received a small package at work from an unfamiliar address. Marjorie? Who do I know named Marjorie? It became instantly clear when I opened up the package and found this:
I actually gasped when I opened it up, and immediately called Laura to gloat. Her grandmother had sent me a top banana magnet! Me! It was a decade later, but finally I had been vindicated.
Somewhere in the middle of my, your grandma loves me more speech, Laura asked calmly, “Does it say ‘Top Banana’ on it?”
I looked down at the magnet, turned it over, and said, “Well, no… but it’s the identical magnet! I’m positive!”
“But it’s just a plain banana, right? It doesn’t say ‘Top Banana’ anywhere.”
After a long pause, I said, “No.”
“So I guess we’re still clear on who the top banana is, right?”
I carefully placed the magnet back in its envelope and sighed, “You’re the top banana, Laura.”
“Just checking.”
I still keep it on my refrigerator, where it holds up a picture of my nephews. And since I see that magnet every day whenever I grab a can of soda or a piece of cheese, it just broke my heart to learn that Laura’s grandmother passed away unexpectedly last week. A lively, lovely woman with an easy laugh and a kind heart, she was truly something special, and the real top banana in my book.

29 Responses to “Top Banana”

  1. Dave2 Says:

    Can I just say that this magnet scares me a little bit?

  2. jenny Says:

    Be afraid. Be very afraid of the lipstick wearing banana.

  3. teahouseblossom Says:

    That’s a really sweet story. What a lovely lady she was, spreading joy all around.
    I’m finally back in town, after my extended hiatus. Trying to catch up on everyone’s posts right now.

  4. shari Says:

    How is it that after all these years of soda and cheese grabbing, you still grab only ONE piece of cheese at a time??! Wow! My hat’s off to you, sister. If I start with the cheese, the cheese is finished. That’s just how I roll.
    But that’s NOT what I wanted to say, it’s just an aside. I wanted to say that this is a sweet, funny, and touching tribute to the Banana Gramma. Sorry for your loss, and Laura’s.

  5. jaymarie Says:

    wouldn’t you rather be the top tomato?
    or maybe the top avocado, mmmmmm, i love avocadoes.
    top tomato sounds best.

  6. Hubsterus Maximus Says:

    Banana Grandma died on her sixtieth wedding anniversary, sitting at the dining room table with a cup of coffee, a donut and a grocery list, looking out to the cemetery where her husband is interred. We’re happy to believe she was wishing to be with him, then gathered up instantly, painlesssly and joyfully.

    Laura does not get the bath mat wet. After ten years of marriage, I can confirm that she is the perfect wife and Top Banana in every way.

  7. Jessica Says:

    Here’s to Marjorie…
    My grandma also passed away on her wedding anniversary.
    P.S. – Jinny, you’re my top Chicago Banana.

  8. jenny Says:

    THB: She definitely was. And so glad you’re back in the world of the blogging!
    Shari: Well, only one piece at a time, but I go back three or four times a day. Thanks for the kind words.
    jaymarie: I’d definitely rather be a tomato than an avocado. Top artichoke, perhaps…
    HM: I’m happy to believe that as well. And I’m well aware that Laura doesn’t get the bath mat wet – that’s why she was such a great roomie. But really, must you come to my site and once again put me in my place? FINE! Your wife is top banana, blah blah blah ;)
    Jess: Thanks, doll. And see, HM? That’s what I’m talking about!

  9. adena Says:

    Actually, the banana reminds me of Whoopi Goldberg a lil’ bit….

  10. kapgar Says:

    You can still gloat. How many people can say they received a gift from their former roommate’s grandmother? None? I think that makes you a “top banana” by default.

  11. jill Says:

    What a lovely tribute. So sweet.
    But, um, Jenny? How are you supposed to NOT get the bath mat wet? And, anyway, isn’t that sort of it’s JOB — keeping water from getting on the actual floor? *sigh* I guess we’ll never live together. Hopes dashed completely!

  12. jenny Says:

    Adena: I’m trying to picture the banana with dreadlocks… okay, I kinda see it!
    kapgar: Hey – you’re right! I’ll take a default top banana anyday – thanks, kev!
    jill: Thanks! But it’s actually quite simple – you dry your feet off with a towel before stepping onto the bathmat. If you live alone, it’s really not an issue, but there’s nothing grosser than stepping out of a nice hot shower onto a soggy cold bathmat.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    This is a wonderful tribute.
    Love and see you soon,

  14. egan Says:

    I hoped this story wasn’t going to end that way. However it seems like her grandma touched you and others surrounding her. That’s a huge compliment. Thanks for sharing the funny story.

  15. Cathy Bothe Says:

    As Laura’s mom and Margie’s daughter I want to say I am so happy that Laura has a friend like you. Actually, when a banana bunch is observed there is a small cluster of fruit–so you can both be the Top Banana. Your story was a highpoint on a very low day as we prepare for the funeral.

  16. sarah Says:

    What a sweet story and I’ll be praying for the family.
    And we cant all be top bananna, but its better than being a hot potato..cause then you could get dropped.

  17. jenny Says:

    Vivian: Thank you, and safe travels!
    egan: She definitely holds a special place in my heart (and on my refrigerator). Thanks!
    Cathy: Here I was holding it together so well up until your sweet comment. And I appreciate being able to share the title with Laura – thanks! :)
    Sarah: Thanks for the kind wishes!

  18. Dustin Says:

    Top banana, sheesh. Some people and their constant need for affirmation.
    Seriously though, she sounds like the best grandma ever.

  19. ms. sizzle Says:

    what a wonderful post.

  20. elle Says:

    I laughed then cried… how sweet.

  21. Fiorello La Guardia Says:

    Jenny, I love your humorous posts, but I always look forward to your reflective and sensitive ones. (American Girls is still my favorite!)
    I enjoyed reading your lovely tribute to a special lady.

  22. Jenn Says:

    Awww… such a sweet story. I really wasnt expecting that kind of ending though. I actually “gasped” at my desk. :(

  23. Dana Says:

    thanks for the story. (I’ve seen that magnet on Laura’s refrigerator for years, but never knew the story behind it until now.) My sympathies to the family and friends of a lovely lady.

  24. Mocha Says:

    I would feel like the Top Banana if your website could Remember Me.

  25. Dop Says:

    I just wanted to say hi.

  26. Pants Says:

    Laura’s Banana Grandma sounds like the kind of woman that makes you feel lucky just to have known her. Thank you for sharing the banana story.

  27. jenny Says:

    Dustin: I think her grandkids would agree!
    Sizz: Thanks, Ms. Jones.
    Elle: Aww, thank you!
    Fio: It was a pleasure to write.
    Jenn: Thank you! (but sorry for the gasp)
    Dana: Good to hear from you! Glad I could help explain the mysterious banana magnet. :)
    Mocha: I seem to recall you telling me you were going to help me fix it…
    Dop: Hi there! I was just thinking about you this weekend, in fact, as I passed a certain hamburger joint. :)
    Pants: Thank you – she definitely was a special lady.

  28. Karl Says:

    OK, that magnet is sorta freaking me out. I’m gonna have nightmares.
    By the way, if I were you I’d get a Sharpie and write “Toppest Banana!” on it.

  29. kim Says:

    Iam on the web surfing blogs and I come across yours with the magnet that made me gasp. Myy dad that that magnet on his fridge as well as a matching orange and apple I think. any manufacture info on yours