This is the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. And here’s what people are saying about it on Amazon:
For decades I have been trying to come up with an ideal way to slice a banana. “Use a knife!” they say. Well…my parole officer won’t allow me to be around knives. “Shoot it with a gun!” Background check…HELLO! I had to resort to carefully attempt to slice those bananas with my bare hands. 99.9% of the time, I would get so frustrated that I just ended up squishing the fruit in my hands and throwing it against the wall in anger. Then, after a fit of banana-induced rage, my parole officer introduced me to this kitchen marvel and my life was changed. No longer consumed by seething anger and animosity towards thick-skinned yellow fruit, I was able to concentrate on my love of theatre and am writing a musical play about two lovers from rival gangs that just try to make it in the world. I think I’ll call it South Side Story. - SW3K
This newest invention is the greatest thing I have ever seen. If I were homeless this would be the only gift I could receive that would make me happy. No more throwing bananas to the cat so they would get sliced. Now I have placed 300 orders for these and they make great gifts! I sent one to my boss and he said “you’re fired” and I said “ok” and I died! It’s as easy as that. I hope they update the software on this banana slicer, its getting kind of out of date. The processer seems a little slow and the buttons lag. I caught my neighbor trying to STEAL my banana slicer, but you don’t have to worry about her anymore, I put her in jail lol. Also, I climbed mount everest using this ingenius device as my walking stick! This banana slicer was my first kiss and will be my last, as I am due to die soon, I have sadly caught the deadly bananacitus disease, I hope I can live long enough to see them release a new model, the 571 is getting too standard. NOoooo im dying right meow as we speak AHHAHAhHAhahshhhhhhhhwefiblwnegsgsdgdfgsdfgdsgdggdgdbanana slicerrgahhhh - WellShot
I tried to attach this to my Canon T2I and it does not work. I purchased solely based on the glowing reviews (I often purchase photography equipment based on Amazon reviews and I tried to apply that approach with the banana slicer). I thought this would really capture the color in landscape shots (at least as good or better than the Sigma 30MM F1.4 that I currently use for outdoor shots) and it really failed to meet my expectations or work in general. I tried multiple adapters to get this to attach to the camera body and all failed miserably, I ended up having to just jam it into the reflex mirror housing and wrap in several layers of duct tape. Unfortunately this damaged the slicer to the point it is nonreturnable and to top it off my camera is giving me “error” messages. Never again. - Ray
Tonight I went out to dinner in downtown Nashville. I ate at the bar of a fancy restaurant with a very reasonable happy hour menu. Because I just moved to town and don’t really know anyone, I was sitting alone. However, the bartender was friendly and the place had plenty of atmosphere. By atmosphere, of course, I mean an odd assortment of people sitting alone… Corporate titans, rich divorcees, the sort that didn’t mind the company of a strong drink.
For a majority of my meal, the chairs on either side of me were quite empty. This suited me just fine because I am perfectly happy people-watching. Near the bottom of my second cocktail, a petite woman climbed into the leather bar chair next to me. She was slow moving and heaved as she hoisted herself into place. Out of breath, she asked if she could have the menu on my other side. Her hair was wispy and she had sunken cheeks. From a sideways glance, she looked tired… perhaps even sick. I was glad to be near the end of the meal. One good sneeze, I thought to myself, and I’d be carrying whatever disease this poor woman was suffering from.
The bartender had come to take my plate when I received a rather funny text message from a friend attending a conference in Idaho. Because I have become a semi-regular, she asked what was so funny. I read aloud from my phone and the woman next to me guffawed appreciatively. The woman’s deep, guttural expression of happiness challenged my diagnosis of her as a sickly, frail thing.
In the time it took to refill my drink, the woman next to me was asking about my friend in Idaho. She wanted to know about our friendship, how we met, and the kind of trouble we got in together. This led to discussing where I went to college, what I was studying at Vanderbilt, the kind of job I wanted after I earn my doctorate. She was very inquisitive and good-natured. Her eyes were light brown and kind and she had smile lines etched into her face. The more we talked, the less sick she seemed.
I turned the tables and began asking questions about her life. I learned she lived in Los Angeles, studied architecture in college, and loved the Pittsburgh Steelers. I took a sip from my drink rather casually and asked, “So what are you doing in Nashville??”
“I’m dying,” she answered shortly but not angrily. There was no bitterness in her voice and her tone gave no indication of sarcasm or dismissal. I got the snap impression she didn’t expect pity or sympathy or an expression of my deepest regret. She might even have been telling me she were a real estate broker or an investment attorney or that she was a grandmother of four or that she was a retired gymnast who won gold at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. I must have stared dumbly because she smiled and added, “But aren’t we all?” To my relief, the bartender came back around to spare me an immediate response.
I turned my head to stare across the bar. She was ordering “a little something” and a cherry Coke. I was reflecting on the casual way in which she shared with a complete stranger that her life was speeding to a close. I suffer from a major/minor existential streak that causes problems every now and then. This was not the kind of conversation I wanted to have with three gimlets in my system. I think she knew that but I’m not quite sure she cared. She introduced herself. “My name’s Annie,” she said warmly. “I’m visiting Nashville because I was born here in 1944. Haven’t really been back since. Wanted to see what I’ve been missing.”
“Are you alone?”
“My sisters came with me. But they’re too tired. I had them running around The Hermitage today, so they wanted to nap,” she said slyly. I saw the briefest hint of mischief in her eyes. It was like she was telling me she had planned to go out alone tonight.
I told her I had never been to Andrew Jackson’s home because I was new to Nashville. She laughed and told me I wasn’t missing much. I nodded along politely.
“You’re not comfortable with death,” she ventured. I gave a noncommittal grunt. “I wasn’t at your age either. Thought I’d live forever. Fall in love, see the world, all that stuff books and movies claim we can have and should want. But then you get a job. Then you work sixty hours a week to be the best. Then you ride out being the best for a few years before some young upstart like you willing to work sixty hours a week puts you out of a job. Then you retire. Then you pretend to enjoy Sudoku puzzles. Then you die.”
“What’s it like?”
“Sudoku, well it’s this number puzzle….”
“Dying,” I said meekly. I had watched my grandmother die in hospice back in 2009. Watching life leave the body is an altogether haunting, surreal experience that I can’t even begin to put into words. But I could not talk to Annie—who suddenly seemed so brilliantly alive and powerful—without thinking life would leave her at any moment… like she were a balloon about to pop or the water about to spiral down a drain.
“Babe, you ought to know,” she said casually as she stirred her cherry Coke. “You’re dying right now,” she did not say it to be cruel. I think this was a conclusion she had reached a long time ago because it had a rehearsed, polished feel to it. “Only difference between you and me is the fact that a doctor took some scans of my lungs, gave me some pamphlets on lung cancer, told me I had six months to live, and he rode into the sunset in his Beemer. Now I’m burning up the frequent flier miles it took a lifetime to build up faster than….”
I never learned what she was burning up frequent miles faster than because she had stopped stirring with her straw and looked fixedly at her glass.
“Are you okay,” I asked. It was a stupid question. Of course she was not okay… she was dying.
“Oh, I’m fine. This drink is just getting a little warm,” she said mildly.
I asked her if I could ask her something. It was the kind of linguistic fumble I tried very hard to fight against but she didn’t call me on it. She nodded in that same mild, almost absent-minded manner. “Do you have any regrets? You don’t have to share specifics… I’m just curious….”
In that same blunt but not unkind way, she answered, “Of course I have regrets. Who doesn’t have regrets? But having regrets isn’t special. Am I ashamed of the things I regret? Yes, because I wasted so much time and energy wishing I could undo the past. I stopped living in the present because I was so focused on wishing mistakes, missed opportunities, and certain people away or back again.”
Every word was packed with the same weight and intensity of a ton of bricks. She was quick to share the details… Old loves gone bad, choosing work instead of her niece’s wedding, throwing out her grandparents’ love letters by mistake, losing her favorite pair of work pants in a move and spending years trying to find them instead of just breaking down and buying a new pair. She sounded so alive, so full of life it almost hurt to be near her.
When the bartender finally brought extra ice, she encouraged me to do the things she didn’t. “Make time for family,” she said, “Even if you leave them in the hotel room for a night, bring them along. Go home every now and then. Take the time to tell your loved ones how special they are. They’re all you really have.”
“Don’t cheat yourself out of having a life-changing moment by staying locked in the office or writing a paper or whatever it is you do. Any idiot can take risks. Create moments of joy. Plan your next great awe-inspiring experience. Chase beauty with reckless abandon. Seek the sublime because you deserve to feel free and alive and real.”
“Be true to yourself. Don’t let other people tell you what to feel, when to feel it, or how wrong you are. Stand up for yourself. Listen to other people but don’t let them chip away at your self-esteem. Don’t be a prisoner to the expectations of others. Be a good person, live with intensity and vigor and their expectations will grow with you. Deliver consistently superior results with a smile. Give a little hell back to the people who give you hell but buy them a drink later.”
Halfway through her account, I had asked if it would be okay for me to write down some key words or phrases. I explained I wanted to remember this conversation. But something stirred in me, “Do you think you’d mind if I blogged about this? This is a conversation most people will never have and I think a lot of people could benefit from hearing your experiences.”
Her face betrayed no hint of emotions at the question or the subsequent reasoning. Whereas I might have felt a slight pang of betrayal if I had confided so quickly and so intimately in a stranger that they wanted to broadcast my dying confessions to the world, Annie managed a joke: “Only if you tell the world I plan to be buried in my senior high school prom dress… because I want to prove to my sisters I can still fit into it. We have a bet I don’t intend to lose. Even if it kills me.
I must have looked horrified. “It’s a joke, kid.”
I genuinely laughed in spite of myself, in spite of my fears about death and dying. It occurred to me that I had told her a lot about me… My educational history, the kinds of friends I attracted, my career aspirations, but not my name. “My name’s Will.”
“The bartender said it earlier,” and as if to highlight her heightened powers of observation she added, “I love Andy Warhol, too.” (The screensaver on my iPhone is the piece “Madonna: ‘I’m Not Ashamed’” that was featured back in October at the National Gallery Headlines exhibit.)
We talked about art and Washington, D.C. for a little bit. We had both been to see the Headlines collection and without thinking I asked if she’d be seeing 15 Minutes Eternal when it returns from Asia next year.
Obviously not. Again, I felt like the world’s biggest moron. But there’s no college course called “Speaking to the Dying.” At least, it’s not a class I ever took.
“I’ve supposedly got three months left. It could be a little longer. But I’ve stopped planning to see next summer’s biggest hits. My favorite author has been working on a series for a decade or two now. I’ve made peace with knowing I’ll never know the ending. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is not being angry about it,” she admitted.
I told her I believe anger proves we care. “That’s a nice sentiment, kid, but I’ve learned we feel angry to avoid feeling anything else,” she said as she began stirring her drink again. “There’s no point holding grudges against people we can’t change or nature for unfolding as it does. Anger won’t keep you warm at night and it sure won’t change the tides if you’re stuck in the middle of the ocean. You’ve got to keep going until you’re out of wind and breath.”
“I’m afraid to die because I spent so many years checking things off a to-do list. I was angry about missing deadlines that just don’t matter anymore. But the things that do matter, the things that make a difference in our lives, can’t be itemized. You’ve just got to do. You’ve got to want. You’ve got to be willing to feel and fail and all that sappy Hallmark stuff.”
Suddenly, it made sense that she was traveling to make up for lost time… to return to places of meaning or see them for the first time. She was on a mission at the end of her life to truly live for the first time.
I asked if there was anything I could do after she was gone. Something she’d specifically like me to write or do. She shrugged and said, “Just lie at this point. Write that I asked you to drink a vodka martini for me on New Years or climb Mount Everest in your fifties.”
I looked at her for a moment. Meaning passed between us like an electrical current because she appended, “Do what you love. Don’t do what I did and track the hours. Throw out the day planner every now and then. Love life so uncontrollably that people write songs about it. Don’t become anything. Be who you are. And love yourself and those around you unconditionally.”
Leaving the bar tonight was hard. It wasn’t hard because I was drunk. That is a struggle I’m used to. It was hard because leaving the bar means Annie will experience two deaths in my mind. The first came the moment I stepped out onto West End Avenue and she truly became a memory. The second will come in three, maybe four or five months. I don’t know if anyone has written so extensively about her. For all I know maybe she was really a gold medalist. She never told me and I’ll never check. But it is my hope that by writing this down, a little piece of Annie will live on.
Even now, hours after I left the restaurant, I feel pulled in many different directions. I am sad and overjoyed. I am numb and overcome with a renewed sense of purpose. I am diminished and I am completely whole.
This is what living—truly living—feels like. To touch the rich complexities, the ragged and raw nerves that constitute what is good and worthwhile about our existence takes courage. I was afraid of buckling under the weight of such beautiful contradictions in feeling. I have denied myself the full spectrum of emotional inputs for so long, skipping from milestone to milestone felt natural.
And then a stranger at a bar reminded me that life is to be lived. Though it sounds so simple, so obvious, I have never felt more alive.