I was sitting in my faculty office on a Tuesday afternoon talking with two textbook representatives from South Western Publishing when three senior coeds from my evening class came to my door and announced that they wanted to invite me to dinner before our 5 PM class. It was 3:13 PM. Their invitation had instant appeal for quite a few reasons. Three of the reasons were that there were three tall, attractive women doing the inviting. I was also looking for an excuse to extract myself from my current situation, and I had not eaten since the previous night. I told my inviters that I would meet them at the student center pub. I spent the next five minutes weaseling my way out of adopting a new textbook in management science and headed for the pub.
My students were at the bar and well into their first beers when I arrived. The four of us moved to a table and ordered food which amounted to three cheeseburgers and one grilled cheese. I had a diet coke and they had more beer. Mike, the manager, was obviously on friendly terms with my students and came over to personally deliver their beer. He also brought a banana, which he gave to Kim. I thought this a little strange never having seen someone order a banana with their beer.
Caryn explained that Kim had a special talent for eating bananas in a manner that appealed to Mike's baser instincts, so he gave her a free beer each time she performed her banana eating routine. I really like bananas, but the context of eating them was starting to take on a whole new perspective. Discretion told me not to ask for the details, and it was apparent that Kim was not going to display her banana-eating expertise while I was there. Soon my cheeseburger arrived and Kim's banana talents were temporarily forgotten.
At 4:10 PM, I had to make a hasty departure back to my office for my 4:00 office hour, leaving my dinner companions with empty plates and full glasses of beer. On the way out of the pub, on an impulse, I asked Mike for a banana so that I could play a little trick on Kim in my class that evening. Mike was more than happy to oblige, and as I walked back across campus with the banana in my pants pocket I began thinking about all those jokes that contain the words "... is that a banana in your pocket..." However, the five-minute walk back to my office was without incident, and no one thought I was glad to see them.
My class began promptly at 5 PM. Kim and Caryn arrived shortly thereafter with obvious impairments from too much beer. I began class with some announcements, a handout, and an overview of what I would be covering for the next 150 minutes. Then I announced that Kim would be giving a special presentation on how to eat a banana, and I presented the banana to Kim, who was sitting in the back row. Kim and Caryn reacted as I expected with amused embarrassment and lots of laughing. The rest of the class was more bewildered than anything, but I figured I had my fun and it would have to remain a private joke.
About 15 minutes later, as I was deep into my lecture on linear regression, I happened to glance back at Kim who was displaying her banana-eating talent while looking directly at me. My mind went blank. Well, it didn't actually go blank, but all thoughts of linear regression vanished. I don't think anyone else saw what Kim was doing, which probably made it worse, because my reaction was totally unexplainable out of context. I try to avoid sudden outbursts of uncontrollable laughter when I am lecturing about serious things like linear regression, and so what I did was display a combination of embarrassment, laughter, incredulity and fear of someone getting the wrong impression or even the right impression. No impressions would have been good. Visions flashed through my head of me in front of the provost and the affirmative action officer trying to explain the situation.
Apparently my reaction only fueled the fires of mischievousness, because shortly after I recovered from the situation and reestablished my priorities, Caryn tried her hand (so to speak) at eating the banana. I suppose that eventually I could have become accustom to seeing sensuous banana-eating by attractive young women in my class, but I avoided further looks in their direction just to be on the safe side.
The experience has put another notch in my teaching belt and given me something I will remember forever. It has also forever changed my perspective on eating bananas. Tonight I was in the grocery store and, as I walked past the bananas, I saw a replay of Kim and Caryn in that class and I laughed at the stack of bananas. I suppose if anyone saw me laughing at bananas they might think I was really weird. But then as I walked on down the isle, anyone who saw me might have thought I was glad to see them.