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TRACI SKENE has appeared on VH-1's Standup Spotlight, A&E's Comedy On The Road and Lifetime's Girls Night Out, all of which has done her absolutely no good.

Traci Skene


Traci Skene

SHECKYmagazine Chief

Grounds For A Peel

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 or what?!

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 cases.

"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. HOME Back to the Top