A banana, an elastic band and an alarm clock sit on a bar.
A banana, an elastic band, and an alarm clock. The three items that bring to the forefront a sense of my own mortality, and to a lesser extent, a reminder of an unmade Macgyver episode. Each object is permanently etched on the same ridge of my brain, alongside the area reserved for death and its precursor of dying.
The banana’s story begins on the top of the fridge in my rented apartment, where it was left uneaten and so perished, on the same day as my stepmother, but of different causes. Each death made me feel the same. That could be giving the banana a lot of credit, but it’s not. For both of them, I knew I would have to deal with their disposal, and beyond that I wished that the situation would evaporate. I guess the big difference is that I can always buy new bananas, so maybe I’m a little less sad about that one. But I’m back to being a bit more sad because the rotting of the banana was my fault. I could have put it in the fridge. I could have eaten it earlier. I guess it could have even still been consumed near its end, if I resolved to learn how to and then bake banana bread. Then again, I say that every time, and the bananas continue to rot, attracting the attention of fruit flies and further neglect by me. And then I feel lazy for not having taken advantage of that situation, of not turning the lemon into ade of the lemon. That comparison lacks punch, likely because it only turns a fruit into a new edible source. Also, I like lemons, and I have never enjoyed the treatment they receive both in the proverb and as a reference to poorly-constructed automobiles.
I attribute the elastic band to being the thing I thought was wrapped around the neck of my real mother, mainly because I was only six at the time of her DIY departure from this world. I guess I had never encountered real rope before, or if I had it never stuck with me, and so I deduced that it was simply an enlarged elastic band that took her life. Suicide was foreign to me as well, so I thought the piece of rubber must have been dissatisfied with its current role in my household and so it grew larger and more powerful until it captured and killed the one who most controlled its use. My therapist would later tell me that many people blame themselves when a loved one takes their own life, but that hadn’t crossed my mind until he mentioned it. I don’t really believe that I was the cause, but he still could have kept that idea to himself. I was told by my well-intentioned aunt and delusional uncle that she was called to the Land of the Angels, but I struggled to fathom how such a majestic place could be a metal tin over their fireplace.
The alarm clock is for my neighbor, a man who apparently lived across the hall from me since I moved into the apartment four years earlier. I didn’t recognize him. The building had enough problems, with its permeating alcoholism and intermittent blackouts, so when I heard the radio’s alarm wail for hours, it didn’t register that something was definitely gone wrong. Until the second day, when I was leaving to go to work, my third shift as a bartender. I’d lied about my experience to get the job, and the manager was catching on. Nervous and reluctant to return to the bar, I was looking for any excuse to delay the shift, so I knocked on his door. No answer, but the force of my fist managed to push the door open enough that I could see inside. I entered, walking in slowly, calling out potential names my neighbour may have been given by his parents. It smelled strange, but I assumed that was not uncommon among the elderly. I creeped around the narrow hallway and peeked my head into the living room. I knew the layout of the place well, as it was essentially the mirror image of my apartment, only without a balcony. A man’s torso hanging limply over the side of a reclined corduroy chair, I couldn’t bring myself to continue on. But the incessant ringing had to be stopped, so I went behind his chair and found it on the side table beside him. I switched the clock’s alarm to the off position, and paused to decide if I would leave on the muted television in front of him, an action I only considered because I briefly thought that it was somehow acting as a video camera, recording my presence. The absurdity of this hitting me, I turned around and left his apartment, gingerly closing the door behind me. I never saw his face, and I suppose I don’t know for sure that he was dead, but the assumption seems safe.