I came home to a bunch of over ripe bananas a couple of days ago. They were sweet, squishy, proof of how few bananas my people eat during apple season. And so, this morning I baked two large loaves of banana bread using Mrs. Peck’s recipe from the Methodist cookbook. She lived across the street from us the whole time I was growing up. As I stood mixing the batter, I thought about what a lovely lady she’d been to know during my youth.
September is here. My students have survived their first month of college and are beginning to understand that acting like adults is hard work. In a couple of weeks, many of them will go back to their respective high schools for Homecoming football games wearing their new college sweatshirts, already changed in important ways.
I remember one of those perfect, crisp, late-September Homecomings on the prairie back when my kids were still in high school. The band had taken the field and marched into formation and the bleachers were full of adoring parents with video cameras poised to record the show. To be honest, I’ve forgotten most of the other details. If you asked me where the visiting team was from or what the score at half time was, or what song the band was playing, I wouldn’t be able to tell you any of it. It is all a blur.
Except this: I recall that the trumpets and trombones were raised and that the band began to play. That the girls in the front were waving large flags in time with the music. That I was standing and talking to the mother of one of my daughter’s friends. That there was a boy in a trench coat and sneakers on the sidelines standing in a group of teenagers who were talking and laughing and mostly just oblivious to whatever was about to happen.
When suddenly the boy in the coat donned a large sequined sombrero and a Halloween mask, peeled off his coat and sprinted, naked as the day he was born, from one end of the football field to the other as mothers covered the eyes of their toddlers and teenagers clapped and stout policemen gave chase. The boy in the mask didn’t look back. He made it across the field and scaled the fence, escaping into a slough. He might have actually made a clean break if he’d planned things out a little better. As it was, his fifteen minutes of fame did not end well. This wasn’t the 1970’s, for one thing. And it was September, for another. Oh, and did I mention that it was Homecoming? You don’t mess around with Homecoming.
Nope. It wasn’t pretty. But it was pretty memorable.
We all search for ways to leave our mark, to be remembered for something we are good at. Sometimes it’s a banana bread recipe in a church cookbook.
And sometimes it’s a boy in a Sombrero in September.