Two Plus Two
My face began to turn blue.
I try to stay away from bananas. They remind me of my mother, a tiny brunette with red lipstick and sparkling eyes. The sparkle was from an even mix of glamour, narcotics, and madness. It's not that I don't like bananas. I steer clear of them because when I was a baby, my mother tried to kill me with one.
I'd been half told the story many times. Neither of my parents believed girls could be good at math. Maybe they assumed I'd never put any number of things together.
It happened at home, with me in a highchair and my mother feeding me bananas. Why the sudden change from jars of Gerber strained bananas to large pieces of an actual banana is not mentioned. I was three months old.
It's possible I initially liked it, but not for very long. At some point my windpipe became completely blocked with banana and I stopped breathing. My mother, sitting next to me, did nothing for awhile. My face began to turn blue.
My dad came in then, took one look at me, and flew into action the only way he knew how: he yanked me out of the highchair and began pounding me on the back, whacking, thumping, at one point grabbing me by the ankles, swinging me upside down while he continued to pound against my back.
My mother became active too. She began yelling at my father, telling him not to try to save me: "She's dead! Stop doing that! What's the point? I'm telling you, she's dead!"
He ignored her. Then she tried to physically stop him, grabbing at his arms, and when that didn't work, she tried to pull me away from him. Luckily for me, he was stronger.
"SHE'S NOT DEAD!" my father yelled. He kept right on pounding my back. And then a huge wad of banana shot out of my mouth. And then I was crying, red-faced, full of oxygen.
Growing up, my father would always close this story by adding, "Boy, was your mother mad."
He never said anything about questioning my mother's motives or getting her counseling or calling the police or never leaving me alone with her again. He never mentioned those things because he never did any of them.
At age 16 I asked my mother if she had clogged up my throat on purpose so I'd die.
"WELL, you cried ALL the TIME."
I blinked. I let her keep talking.
"You don't know what it's like. All the time. Crying. Needing. And then I'd have to hear 'Oh, she's so pretty.' So pretty!" She spat the phrase out like it sickened her.
She glared at me, her dark eyes blazing. Daring me to argue. Maybe daring me to ask more. But I knew her, and I didn't dare.
Until the end of my mother's life, she remained ticked off at my dad for this, and she used to complain about it to me. I gave up trying to explain how this was bizarre.