Yesterday I was minding my business and eating a banana for an afternoon snack, when my husband walked in, immediately gave me a horrified look, and exclaimed, “Why are you eating your banana upside-down?”
I looked at my banana. It looked very much like it was in the correct position to be eaten. I asked what he meant, wondering if this was some sort of elaborate marital troll. “You’re supposed to peel it from this side,” he said, indicating the stem, motioning that it should have been what was opened first. Meanwhile, I had peeled it from the darkened tip — what some consider the “bottom” of the banana — just like I had done my entire life, because it opens more readily and then you have the stem to hold onto, sort of like with a lollipop or popsicle. Duh. I wasn’t in the mood to be mansplained to.
“Um, why exactly?” I argued. “The stem side is hard to peel back, and this side practically opens itself, ta-da!”
“Look at your Chiquita sticker. It is UPSIDE-DOWN!” he countered.
“SO WHAT? IT’S A STICKER ON A FRUIT!!” I responded, at this point feeling like my world was turning upside-down. We went back-and-forth for a while, and at one point he took a picture of my half-eaten banana, apparently so he could always remember how weirdly I peeled it.
Convinced that my husband had chosen the more laborious banana route for no good reason, I decided to query my coworkers on Slack. “How does everyone peel a banana?” I asked. “Um, there is only one way,” said my editor. Aha. My way. The majority of the team agreed that you open a banana from the “top.” I was satisfied. “Nick, you’re wrong!” I shouted. At this point, he was in a Zoom meeting and disinterested in my banana-peeling.
“Monkeys do it from the bottom,” suggested our Money Diaries editor.
However, a couple of dissenters admitted to doing it from the “bottom”:
“I do the bottom now,” said our health editor. “It’s easier, and you have the top to hold onto. When I open a banana from the top, the top gets squished, which I don’t like.”
“I am a convert now and do it from the bottom,” one of our staff writers agreed. “It is easier, I endorse. Way less messy.”
At this point, I had become unsure what anyone meant by “top” and “bottom.” And I was becoming increasingly embarrassed to be a grown adult who doesn’t understand the intricacies of banana-peeling.
“Wait, I am still confused which is the top and which is the bottom,” I gingerly typed out. I had already been judged today, I had no fear. My coworkers explained that the part that connects it to other bananas is generally considered the top part.
It finally began to click with me that what I had always thought was the top of the banana is actually the bottom to most people, and that peeling a banana from the bottom is not the usual way. After all, only a couple of others on my team of 10 did it like this, even though it is far easier to open it my way. Although, perhaps by making it about the ease of opening a banana, the real question was about the banana’s degree of ripeness, as my editor suggested? An unripe banana is harder to open, stem-side or not.
Then, things got a bit more complicated. “I’m not trying to throw the balance off, but what we call the top (the part with the sinewy bend) is actually the bottom. And the blackened part is the top. Google bananas growing on trees,” another one of my colleagues suggested.
I did. Thinking about it this way (they grow with the soft, darkened tip up) vindicated that I have always called it the “top.” But it didn’t change the fact that my mind was completely blown by what was apparently the “normal-people” way to peel a banana.
I queried the internet some more. It seemed that despite the fact that most people viewed peeling it from the stem (or “top”) the correct and accepted way, the tides had been turning. People are discovering my way! “You’ve Been Peeling Bananas Wrong Your Whole Life and It’s Time to Stop,” advised an article on Spoon University.
“Until about a year ago, I spent my entire life peeling bananas from the stem down,” the author wrote. “Believing that this was the right way to peel a banana, I would often find myself wrestling with the dang fruit, only to end up with a half-mushed and bruised banana. After going through all that trouble, I wouldn't even want to eat my mangled banana. Who would?”
Yes, who would indeed! It goes against nature!
“The true, correct way to peel a banana is from the bottom up,” the writer went on. “Ignore that misleading stem and turn your banana upside-down.”
I already do, thank you! And, I will continue to do just that, and peel bananas the way our closest banana-eating relatives, the monkeys, do. After all, they’re the experts. But this journey did make me question things just a bit. Like, how many other things do we do all day that we think are completely normal but are weird to most everyone else? And the longer that many of us remain at home, isolated, the more these habits will become ingrained, with us never having any idea that they’re considered weird to others. (What are yours? Drinking a glass of milk a day, perhaps?)
“It’s just one of those things you don't expect to see, especially with someone you know so well,” my husband explained, Wednesday-morning-quarterbacking our banana discussion. “You eat bananas multiple times a week. I just never observed you eating them, apparently.” And now, he can’t unsee it. Maybe it’ll even make him change his ways.