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If I want to impress people, I tell them that I share a birthday
with Lyndon B. Johnson, Mother Teresa and Confucius. If I want to
impress a certain kind of people, I tell them that I also share a
birthday with Daryl Dragon, Martha Ray and Paul Reubens. The second
group, of course, is better known as Tenille's Captain, the Denture
Lady and Pee Wee Herman. The first group consists of the 36th President,
a future saint and a man whose last name is "Say."
I'm not even sure the producers of The Surreal Life could put
together a more mismatched group of folks than those of us who were born
on August 27. I am quite certain, however, that the day of our birth
would be the only thing we would have in common. But wouldn't it be great
if we could all get together to celebrate our special day? Just imagine
Confucius trying on the Captain's famous hat. Pee Wee saying to Mother T,
"I know you are, but what am I?" Martha, LBJ and I supressing our
giggles as the dispassionate Applebee's staff half-sings a tortured
version of "The Birthday Song" before clearing away our
quesadilla dishes. Boy, oh boy, life outside my oversized head will never
be as good as it is inside my somewhat pea-sized brain.
It's been a long time since I've done anything to celebrate my
birthday on the actual day of my birth. Since I'm usually on
the road, I save my "partying" for the Sunday closest to
the date when I find myself at home. This past August 27, I was booked at
Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff on what turned out to be the last
day of a month long tour. Fatigue combined with high altitude and the
realization that this would be my last birthday in my 30's made for a less
than festive atmosphere. In other words, I was cranky.
The day before-- August 26 for those of you who don't have a
calendar... or a brain-- my husband and I found ourselves in Los Angeles
sucking down Starbucks and Baja Fresh burritos before hanging out with old
and recently-acquired comedy buddies at the Improv on Melrose. So, in order
to make it to my gig on Friday we had to haul birthday ass across the
Mojave Desert in our pocket-sized rental car. For those of you who still
don't have a calendar-- or a brain-- that meant doing 80 MPH in 120-degree
temps. Maybe we're the ones who lack a calendar... or a brain?
Just inside the Arizona/California border, we decided it was time
for some cheap gas and some cheap gas-producing food. So, we pulled
into a truck stop in Topock, AZ, and I headed to the restroom
while Brian perused the Wendy's 99-Cent Value Menu. It was at this
magical rest stop that the comedy gods decided to give me the birthday
present of a lifetime.
As I was exiting the ladies' room stall, I slipped on the way
to the sink. After regaining my balance, I looked down to see what
had caused this near-fatal accident. There it was... in all it's
shining, iconic, archetypal glory... a banana peel. I had slipped on a banana peel.
After 39 years of stumbling around this planet, I had finally been
part of a cliche come to life. It could only have been
better if I had been hit on the head with an anvil or squashed by
a baby grand piano. I slipped on a banana peel! Is that cool
I quickly washed my hands, took a brief moment to gaze upon
the banana peel yet again and ran out to Brian who was ordering
chili and Biggie drinks. "Dude!" I yelled, (Yes, we
sometimes call each other Dude) "Guess what? I just slipped
on a banana peel." Brian completely understood the implications. The
other folks in line thought I was insane.
Pop culture Brian was immediately replaced by concerned husband
Brian. "Are you okay? Are you hurt?" I was fine. Concerned
husband Brian was then replaced by grossed-out disgusted Brian. "You
slipped on a banana peel... in the bathroom?" I assured him
that, as horrible as it sounds, when you slip on something in a public
restroom you're actually relieved to look down and find out that it was,
in fact, a banana peel.
When I arrived home 36 hours later, I couldn't wait to tell
everybody my good news and I was thrilled that my loved ones were
either really impressed or at least thought enough of me to pretend
that they cared.
A few days later, I did what any modern American with a computer
and too much time on her hands would do in my situation. I googled
the phrase "slipped on a banana peel." To my amazement,
696 results appeared on my screen. Most of the references concerned
a children's poem, a set-up to a joke and some crazy Indian character from
Bollywood. But scattered throughout were web postings from folks who,
much like myself, were stunned that they too had once slipped on a banana
peel. We're like some overly-enthusiastic crazy banana peel cult that
can't believe our good fortune.
And there were lawsuits. Serious lawsuits with serious legal
language debating the ramifications of banana peel slip-and-fall
"In a recent Court of Appeals case the plaintiff slipped
on a banana peel which was conceded to have been blackened, presumably by
age; but the Court held that "[t]he simple fact that the peel was
blackened did not establish constructive notice" ( Faricelli v TSS
Seedman's, Inc., 94 NY2d 772)."
Ah, don't you just love the American legal system? And you
wonder why so many lawyers become comics?
I can't imagine what could happen next year on my 40th birthday
that could possibly top what happened this year. I guess I would
have to be driving home from Applebee's with Daryl Dragon and
Paul Ruebens when our car suddenly veers off the road and crashes
into a fruit cart. In the meantime, I will continue to google
"slipped on a banana peel" until I turn up as
search result #697.
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