On Fame, Democracy, and Banana Splits
It’s hard being famous. Let me explain.
You might certainly not know that I’m a Composer of choral and orchestral works. Some other stuff, too. My job—nay, my raison d’être—involves not insignificant tasks like deciding whether the note B should be flatted (most days, excluding bank holidays) or sharpened (extenuating circumstances). Or whether it should just be natural.
The point is I’m equal parts strategic decision maker (that is, of course, how I explain composition to MBAs) and public persona of no un-small repute. After all, you’re reading this prosaic flourish on MY very own FaceBook, n’est-ce pas?
I envy other great composers who lived and died before the advent of the Social Medias.
You see, Palestrina and Richard Strauss could probably mow their respective lawns without being heckled. George Gershwin too, though he was once photographed playing golf.
Thankfully, I can walk my kids’ dog in our town [name omitted for privacy] without being accosted, except sometimes by my neighbor Steve, who is actually quite nice. Brad Pitt couldn’t do that. And neither could the Dali Lama, so I count my blessings.
In fact, I’ve been able to pass through the corridors of national choral music conventions in relative, nay total, anonymity thanks to my stealth and demure disposition. And despite my composersly physique and standout catalogue.
But, as any gambler can attest, a lucky streak is only a lucky streak because the streak becomes a struck, which is to say it ends, which is to say it ended.
And my luck ends—nay, ended—at Brooker’s Founding Flavors Ice Cream, just a few blocks from my house [address omitted] in Provo, Utah 84604.
The Founding Fathers are a Big Deal in Utah, despite being very old. Their likenesses have been courageously co-opted to sell many things, mostly related to the Second Amendment, which comes just before the Preamble of the Constitution of Independence around here.
In this case, they sell ice cream. Very good ice cream.
Let’s face it. We don’t know how much Le Trump spends—nay, spent—on ice cream. Personally, I await his tax returns to find out. By contrast, it sounds like George Washington (who actually was, indisputably, President #1) spent about $200 on ice cream in the summer of 1790—somewhere in the neighborhood [address omitted] of $5,000 nowadays.
In my quest to outspend President Washington (who could have been king, but ceded the Presidency voluntarily to set an example for us, to support free and fair elections, and to vote for the survival of our constitutional federal republic, which only Sen. Mike Lee refuses to call a democracy), I have sampled a not insignificant number of menu options at Brooker’s Founding Flavors.
I mean, someone has to. It’s for democracy.
Even Mike “Mulligan” Lee would reach across the aisle for that one.
Being newly famous myself, I don’t know if it’s adequately cool for famous people to like or eat banana splits. But my fans, like Brené Brown’s devotées, love vulnerability and emotional literacy and candor and chamber music and stuff so I’ll just admit it: I like bananas; I like ice cream; and the combination, even if dated or proletariat, is good enough for me. Real talk.
George Washington missed the arrival of first importation of bananas in the U.S. by about 80 years and hearing Gershwin’s best work by 140 years. I don’t envy him that, but I guess you can’t time everything perfectly. I don’t know how many bananas Le Trump buys—nay, bought—but the Truth will out. I believe in America.
But back to my luck and how it ran out: One night, I asked the Scooper Person at Brooker’s Founding Flavors—they dress in faux Colonial garb, I kid you not—for a banana split. (See, I even order my own ice cream!) And that employee had the gall to suggest that Brooker’s Founding Flavors was “fresh out” of bananas. Can you imagine winning a Revolutionary War if you were “fresh out” of cannon balls? I can hear General Washington rolling in his grave, his sword clattering and his powdered wig not actually making much sound at all. Can you imagine writing “American in Paris” if you were “fresh out” of Americans?
Famous people have to deal with all sorts of things. So I huffed across the street to the corner market (by myself, no less), bought my own banana, and marched right back into Brooker’s Founding Flavors, peppy fife and drum music flowing authentically from the colonial sound system, punctuating the scene, and the jingly bell on the door jingling behind me.
“Now—you have a banana,” I said, channeling my inner Brené, trying not to bruise the fruit while still slapping it emphatically on the glass display, next to the teeny garbage can for teenier wooden sample spoons.
We proceeded without incident, and BYOB has a new—nay, a first—meaning in dry, dry Provo, Utah.
Thankfully the tension subsided soon enough that I could enjoy my banana split in relative anonymity. Brad Pitt couldn’t do that. Did I mention that my wife was with me? She’s famous too now, by association. It’s very hard for her, being married to me.
And, thus, despite my gallant efforts to maintain a low celebrity profile, I am now known as “The Banana Guy” at Brooker’s Founding Flavors.
Everywhere I go at Brooker’s, I’m now The Banana Guy. They know me.
Would colonial troops have followed The Banana Guy into battle? I submit to you: nay. Would the opera Salomé have been taken seriously if it had been attributed to a composer called The Banana Guy? Again, nay. Would you want to hear about the Gifts of Imperfection from a Banana Lady? I say, Bre-nay. Would Mike “Captain Moroni” Lee be reelected if he were known as The Banana Guy? Yes, absolutely. He could fill his pants with bananas and do cartwheels on the lap of the Lincoln Memorial and his fans will find his Banana Republic only more a-peeling.
You see? It’s hard being famous. Things can get away from you.
But you know what?
I got a discount on my banana split that night—AND on subsequent splits.
Yes it’s hard being The Banana Guy, but it’s worth it.