Condoms on Bananas

by Sarah Owocki

I just experienced this controversy firsthand. My mom recently returned from a conference on teen pregnancy, and, as is always the case at such conferences, free condoms were handed out. My mom brought home about forty of these and left them on her bedroom floor. So tonight, while everyone is out, I begin staring at the condoms and thinking, in an offhand kind of way, about the controversy surrounding condoms on bananas. You know what I'm talking about. People like my mom, the pro-sex-ed. people, the liberals (she says enticingly) -- those people are just itching to show our vulnerable, innocent public school students how to put a condom on a banana. And then on the other side, you have the conservatives, the true inhabitants of the Mountain of God, people like my Health teacher, Mr. ______. He tells us that he can't allow anyone to show us how to put a condom on a banana because it might give us "ideas" - that's how he puts it, "ideas", but he kind of raises his eyebrows and looks at us as if he suspects that we just might already harbor some of those forbidden thoughts. In any case, he says, no condom is ever going to make it into his classroom, no siree, not so long as he has anything to say about it --and he certainly had a lot to say about it when I approach him after class, armed with the statistics and posters and slogans of my fruitless cause.

Here, I say, more than half of all American teens, aged 15 to 19 have had sex. He winces at the word, but I plow on: one million teenage girls get pregnant each year. American teens, on average, start sex at a younger age and then have proportionally more babies than Dutch, German, or French kids, where sex education is frank and open. They would jump at the opportunity to have someone show the kids how to put a condom on a banana. I show him a poster.

He takes it, puts it on a nearby desk, steps back, and squints at me. Have you ever put a condom on a banana, Sarah?

No, butů

But what? Why are you here right now if you haven't put a condom on a banana yourself?

I guess I work better with posters. And I don't really like bananas. I prefer squash.

So tonight, here I am, sitting pensively as I eye the warlike Trojans surrounding me. How stupid of me to answer no. I stand up brusquely, brushing the scattered warriors aside, and bound downstairs. I stop at the fruit bowl, sigh, and grab what I need. Mom's always saying I should be getting more potassium, anyway. I head slowly back upstairs.

What if he's right? It seems far-fetched, but there are so many like him at that sweet little conservative school of mine. What if there really is something wrong with giving teenagers condoms - or bananas? Maybe I should use a cucumber instead.

But it's too late the turn back now. I enter my mom's room, close the door, and put a condom on a banana. I then stare at my handiwork for a minute before taking off the condom and throwing it away, remembering the package's dire warning against reuse. The condom is thus gone. Then, heaving a great sigh, I slowly consume the banana. It's really not as bad as other bananas I've had; and most importantly, the banana is thus gone. My tasks done, I sigh with relief and head on out to wash my hands and get some posters ready for tomorrow.