Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
There you are, sitting in your lecture, when you realize how quiet the room has become and notice a large banana staring at your professor. As your prof motions to speak, the banana interrupts. “I am a baNANA,” it announces; it remains for a moment and then exists. Such was the scene in many classrooms across campus last week, and, like a bad knock-knock joke, “banana who?” is the question on everybody’s mind these days. Showing up without warning at various lecture halls and classrooms, the 6 foot tall walking fruit has added a little sweetness to the lives of students here at Swat. It appears nobody knows who the banana really is or where it has come from.
Henry Heaton ’09 has witnessed the spectacle three times. Among his medieval Europe class, Chemistry 10 seminar, and Intro to Psychology lecture, he feels the banana was most entertaining in his psychology class. “However, [chemistry] Professor Gooding did bribe the banana to come back later because we were busy at the time,” he reports.
When asked to comment, perhaps feeling a bit hostile about the incident, Gooding stated, “If I see that banana again I will freeze him in liquid nitrogen and drop him off the trestle.”
On the banana’s visit to a Biology 1 lecture, Professor Scott Gilbert commented that the “large banana came down the stairs….and announced himself courageously and confidently. To his statement…I could only reply, ‘Indeed you are.'” When asked to conjecture the banana’s purpose, Gilbert stated on behalf of the Bio department, “We…do not have a speciesist attitude, and we welcome animate and intelligent members of the plant kingdom. I admit to wondering, though, if there were some fraternity initiations going on.”
Both Phi Psi and DU deny any connection to the incidents.
There are many speculations as to the identity of the banana. Justin Chen ’08 admits to having been accused, as has Caitlin Koerber ’07. Kim Comer ’09 links the banana with the appearance of a visiting junior on leave from a college in New York. “I noticed the strange correlation,” she says, “He didn’t say anything about it, but no one ever asked him.”
The banana originated as a character in a short film called “Rejected” by Don Hertzfeldt which premiered in 2000 at the San Diego Comic Convention. The ten minute film is an animation of stick figures, and is unbelievably hilarious. Urban legends have grown around the film, describing it as a “nonfiction document of rejected commercials.”
As for the identity of the banana, it seems it will remain a mystery. Many students are satisfied with this, uninterested in knowing the face under the mask. The banana may or may not continue to drop in on classes, but its story will likely stick around for years to come.