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Al Martinez

A Banana on the Doorknob

June 12, 1986|AL MARTINEZ

My wife said to me the other day, "Did you buy the goat grain?"

I said, "What goat grain?"

"I asked you to buy some goat grain."

"I don't remember that," I said.

"You were standing by the refrigerator. It was last Wednesday at exactly 2:30 in the . . . "

"All right, all right. I believe you asked me. But I forgot."

"So now the goats have no grain," she said with a sigh, "and will no doubt be dead by morning."

I shrugged. "I never did like those damned goats."

We bought them for my son during his 4-H Club phase. Then he discovered women and Budweiser beer. There went the goats.

"That's all right," my wife said, "I'll get the goat grain. You work on your memory."

"There's nothing wrong with my memory."

"Then why," she asked, touching the tip of my nose, "is there a banana on the doorknob?"

Oh, that.

Well, it's just that occasionally I forget little things. The banana on the doorknob was intended to solve the problem. It didn't.

It began when I suffered a leg cramp one day and someone said I was potassium-deficient. Take potassium or you die! Potassium regulates the heartbeat.

The best natural source for potassium, I was told, is the simple banana. I am a borderline hypochondriac, so I embarked upon a program of eating a simple banana a day for life.

I bought bananas every time I was in a store and placed them in baskets on the dining room table. I bought so many bananas at one place, the owner thought I had figured out a way to snort or inject them.

Every day for about three days I ate a banana. I hate bananas. But I ate them anyhow for their life-sustaining qualities.

Even during the best of times, the length of my determination rarely spans a week. Given a natural aversion to duty, three days was the limit this time. Nature has a way of protecting me from self-imposed obligation. I simply forget what I've promised to do.

The bananas began turning black.

"I won't have rotting bananas in the house," my wife said. "Seaweed was bad enough."

That was last year. A woman we knew in Calabasas was bitten by a rattlesnake and survived without medical treatment. She said she owed it all to seaweed mixed in grapefruit juice.

It was a bad year for rattlesnakes in Topanga, so I decided to try it.

I brought home buckets filled with seaweed and laid the disgusting strands out on the deck to dry. Then I chopped and pounded them into a fine disgusting powder and mixed the powder with grapefruit juice. It made me vomit.

Even blending it with vodka didn't help.

"When life grows too bitter to swallow," my drunken stepfather used to say, "mix it with vodka."

Not this time, stepdaddy.

"I don't mean to infringe on your health program," my wife suggested, "but if you are going to throw up every time you drink seaweed it can't be doing you much good."

She was right, of course. So I began forgetting to drink my seaweed. It lay in clumps around the house and began to smell.

"One of these days," my wife said as she dumped the last of the miracle snake dust down the garbage disposal, "you are going to poison yourself seeking life eternal."

"The laugh will certainly be on me," I said.

A hypochondriac columnist for the Los Angeles Times OD'd yesterday on powdered seaweed dissolved in vodka . He had been drinking the disgusting mixture in an effort to prevent death from rattlesnake bite. The last laugh was on him. He is survived by his wife and 200 pounds of algae.

My wife saw the banana venture not as psychological resistance to bananas but rather as yet one more example of my faltering memory.

"You buy all these bananas," she said, "then forget to eat them."

"I forget nothing," I insisted, "and fully intend to eat every banana in the house."

"You won't even eat egg plant because it's too dark. You'll never eat black and rotting bananas."

Maybe not, but I was determined to see the experiment through regardless of a natural inclination to forget the whole damned thing. A man has his pride.

I bought more bananas, and I tied one to the doorknob. Its purpose was to remind me, as I left the house each day, to eat my banana.

It didn't work.

My determination vanished like chastity on a water bed, and within two days the banana on the doorknob meant nothing to me.

"I am now," my wife said to me one afternoon, "removing the banana from the doorknob. Any objections?"

I had none.

"By the way," she said, disposing of the banana, "did you remember to get the food for the dogs?"

"Was I supposed to?"

"You wrote it down before you left for work at exactly 7:30 a.m. sitting right there at the table. You forgot, didn't you?"

"I should have hung a dog from the doorknob."

"It doesn't matter now," she said. "They'll be dead by morning anyhow."

It's just as well.

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