I recently finished reading Morgan’s Run, another great historic novel with sailboats aplenty. The myths and the superstitions surrounding seafarers are myriad, and it’s often hard to sort out those with true historical basis, from those spawned of alcohol consumption alone. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter . . . like this morning when my neighbor, Sandy, told me matter-of-factly that my friend, Gene, was a banana.
My prop-fouling disaster happened 50 yards off Sandy’s dock the other day, and I was telling her the story while she soaked my feet in salty water and ran an electrical current through the brine. (Ellie pays Sandy to do this to me, but I haven’t gotten up the courage to ask why. I just smile, try not to touch anything made of metal, and say “Thank you.”)
“Real sailors never take bananas on board ship,” she said earnestly, “and it sounds to me like Gene’s a banana.” I didn’t know which question to ask first, but fortunately I didn’t have to. Sandy went on: “Something about bugs or disease, I think, but maybe just really bad luck. Anyway, some people are definitely bananas, and you just can’t let them get on your boat. Gene’s definitely a banana.”
Well, that was that. You learn something new every day . . . and any day I leave Sandy’s without being electrocuted is a good day. I haven’t yet gotten around to telling Gene to stay in Miami if he wants to go boating again, but stranger things have happened. He did sink his buddy’s motorboat in Biscayne Bay a short while back, with eight hands on deck. He swore they were swamped by a passing cruise ship, but who’s to say that there weren’t bananas involved? (Or, at the very least, banana daiquiris?) According to Gene, there was a reality TV show film crew on the bay that day; apparently they filmed the sinking and interviewed all the wet folks. Gene says it’s going to be the season opener.
At my age, hindsight is 50/50, but I think, way back when we first met, Gene told me he was in a 911 type reality show once before, when he was a teenager, something about a swimming buddy breaking his neck while they were at the lake together. He said you can still find it on YouTube. I’m not saying Sandy’s right or anything, but Gene was at the wheel when my prop fouled the other day. In fact, he was blocking my view of the excess portside jib line all morning. No, I’m being silly. It was just an accident, that’s all. Accidents happen. (But why have I been hearing Jimmy Durante singing “Yes, we’ll have no bananas” in my head all day?)