I HATE bananas.
Those who’ve known me for a very long time know exactly where it stems from: “Chiquita Banana” (from herein will be referred to as “that“)
When I was younger, calling me that was a surefire way to start a fight with me.
Kinda like Marty McFly in the “Back to the Future” movies. You called him “chicken”…he kicked your ass.
In fact, until just a little more than a year ago (when I started cycling), I wouldn’t even eat bananas…short of my mom’s homemade banana pudding, and even then, I just picked out the Nilla wafers.(And it annoyed the crap out of everyone.) And even now that I do eat bananas, I don’t enjoy them. They serve one purpose: lots of carbs and potassium in a small package that isn’t terrible for you. And I most certainly will not buy that brand.
I admit, I turned into a bit of a bully over it. And while I have much better control of my temper now, it still pisses me off quite a bit when someone makes fun of my name or associates it with a banana. You could call me just about anything else and I’ll usually answer (hence my many nicknames), but call me that and I get pretty hostile and will probably bite your head off.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I was inspired by a project based on a spoken word poem written by Shane Koyczan called “To This Day”. Please watch:
(To learn more about this project, visit http://tothisdayproject.com)
There are so many things I could say about this video…It’s absolutely beautiful and very powerful. Watching this video made me think…A LOT…
About how things were for me growing up. How I was raised to not let anyone hurt you…to stand up for yourself.
And how I interpreted that to mean to fight back if that’s what it took.
And how all those people making fun of my name or calling me anything other than, were in fact, bullying me.
And how when I got angry with people making fun of my name, I let them know it. Sometimes in the most hostile manner possible.
And how eventually, I had turned into the bully.
And then people knew better than to call me…that.
Success, right? Well, not exactly. It made me an asshole…and I felt like one too.
Not only that, but for years I wouldn’t even eat a banana over it! Hell, I probably still wouldn’t eat bananas if I didn’t see a good reason to.
I guess as I matured, I realized that the way I ‘dealt’ with it wasn’t the right way to handle things. And as I learned to control my temper, I became…complacent.
At first, I would make a point to correct people and try to tell them how to correctly pronounce my name. When that didn’t work, I would tell them how I didn’t like it when they would make fun of my name. Then I would just ignore them, not respond at all. And once I was tired of all that, I learned to just answer anyways. After all, I knew they were talking to me. And although they were wrong, I was tired of feeling like the asshole all the time for saying something. Plus, saying something over and over and over again is exhausting! People would tell me, “its not that big a deal” or “you’re making too much out of it” or “you should learn to choose your battles” and “just accept it.”
And so I did. I just accepted it. So much so, that I now have many, many nicknames. Cha, Chaqueets, Cha-qui, Quitta, Qui Qui, Cha cha, and Cheeqee…just to name a few. (We’d be here for days if I tried to name them all.) And at times I have answered to names that are nowhere near my actual name. I stopped trying to correct people, unless they thought enough to ask. At Starbucks and other restaurants, I give a false name, or the name of someone else I was with. At some point my reasoning became, “Sure! Call me whatever you want and I’ll answer…just don’t call me that.”
And so it was. And to this very day, “Chiquita Banana” (that) will NEVER, NEVER be okay. (Wow. Just typing that pissed me off…)
In pondering all of these thoughts, I’ve started to wonder….was I wrong for finally letting it go? For giving in to the notion that “it’s not that big a deal” and I should “just accept it”?
I mean, this is MY NAME…a major part of what makes me…me. Most of the nicknames I have been given do not derive from something endearing, but simply the failure to correctly pronounce my name. And how do you draw the line? How much effort do you put into drawing that line?
A lot of these nicknames members of my own family have created and/or used. And kids too…and it would be wrong and entirely unrealistic of me to get upset with a toddler for not being able to say, “Cha’Quitta”.
And I know that not everyone means harm by it…and not all of the nicknames bother me, really (it kinda depends on who is using them).
I understand that to others my name is very different and can be difficult to say. There are family members who still say my name wrong, after 30 YEARS! So I get it, I really do, and I don’t expect anyone to get it right away. But at the same time, I can’t help but to feel that my name is not THAT hard to say…if you try. Just try. Which then makes me wonder…how hard do you really try? At what point do you just give up and make up a name? Are you really even trying at all? Well…are you?!? Am I not worthy of you ever, ever learning how to say my name?!?!
And then I take a deep breath…and I calm down…and then I feel like the asshole…again.
Because in my years of complacency, I’ve enabled this. By allowing everyone to call me “anything but that,” I’ve given them all reasons not to try. And to be entirely honest, I’ve even been guilty of it myself. I’ve gotten so used to filling out forms (for anything from my driver’s license to Facebook) and getting told that an apostrophe is not an “acceptable” or “valid” character, that it has become habit for me to spell my name incorrectly. (For the record, my name is spelled Cha’Quitta, with an apostrophe, not Chaquitta.) In a way, I deserve some of the same backlash that I give since how I handle it to this day is still contributing to the problem.
So…what do I do now?
Well, I don’t know really…I’m still thinking. But I hope that reading this has inspired you to think a little bit too.
And I kinda still hate bananas, but at least I’ll eat them now, so there’s that.