Top Banana

During our 1960’s ranch-house years, Dad and I went places by ourselves, while Mom and my two brothers did something else, I don’t know what. We watched a movie at York Theater, where I planned to be urbane. We ice fished at Chain-o-Lakes where I planned to be a great sporting gal. We attended an opera in Chicago, where I planned to be admired.

The York Theater exuded elegance in the post-War way, with Frenchy wallpaper and a swathe of velvet flung over the movie screen.

Amidst this splendor, Dad’s behavior can only be described as unfortunate. He brown-bagged it. That is, he brought his OWN food. Worse, it was in a noisy brown bag. Worse, it included a banana. Worse, he peeled the banana during the movie. Worse, the smell of banana surrounded the two of us like lava, spreading fumes capriciously. Worst of all, everyone looked oddly as us, the banana eaters. I sulked while Dad enjoyed his banana.

Ice fishing was more private since earth is not rife with those who actually like to fish and freeze when it isn’t mandatory to survival.

Dad had the knack for it, I must say. He pitched what looked like Godzilla’s umbrella on the frozen lake. He whirled Godzila’s bottle opener to drill a little polkadot hole. He baited hooks on Lilliputian rods with minute minnows. I thought all this overkill to roust a few 3-inch perch from their watery deep so I glared and looked miserable until he folded up the tent.

Opera commands attention so Dad handed me the playbill to read. I studied the fashion of my fellows. Very sparkly. Everything rustles in an opera house. Hushes and shushes and nods and a sense of drama few emulate anywhere else.

I adored the dimming lights, the aura, the caught breaths, silence as the curtain rose. Dad nudged me with a Three Musketeers bar, one among several he smuggled in. Trapped between my fantasy and his good intent, I opened my candy bar wrapper with as little noise and with as much courage as I was capable at the time.

About Mrs. Fitz

Hello! I'm Michele Fitzpatrick, a Chicago writer. Like our town, a work in progress. As a journalist, teacher and writing coach I think all of us live our stories and sharing them creates moments that remind us we're connected. And that is enough.
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