Tamera Schlueter Banana Man verses Derelict the Despicable

Writer’s note: I ran past three broken bottles on my writing-night run. It reminded me of a ridiculous column I wrote a few years back about the subject of derelicts and their love of flinging glass. So here’s the column that ran in the March 10, 2011, issue of the Hastings Tribune. It still applies.

We are what we eat. Eat healthy and be healthy. Eat trash and be trash. My doctor took it a step further when I was pregnant with my firstborn son. “Your baby is what you eat,” he said. I was convinced I’d give birth to a 10-pound Snickers bar.

For the most part I agree with the adage, which means there’s a five-foot, seven-inch chocolate chip cookie banging away at the keyboard right now. Hunka Burnin’ Hubby is in the shop, looking fine as a bowl of chili and a cinnamon roll.

You can learn a lot about someone not only by what they eat, but by what they throw away. For example, there’s a derelict on the loose in our neck of the woods; a beer-swilling specimen who chucks bottles from his car window as he licks the last frothy drop from his moist, menacing lips.

I imagine a giant belch, the electric grind of a window rolling down, and a meaty hand spiking a brown bottle onto the sidewalk as he speeds by the park. I’ll bet he screams joyously, like a sticky-fingered child on a Ferris wheel, as glass explodes against the curb. “WEEE!” he cries, while his belly jiggles over a tourniquet-tight belt.

The car swerves drunkenly as his swollen fingers probe a half-empty cooler, grabbing another glass hand grenade with tender loving care. The broken bottles strewn around town are his trademark; like the Joker’s playing cards or the Riddler’s puzzles. It’s another night of dastardly deeds for wannabe villain, Derelict the Despicable.

It’s a good thing we have a potassium-rich superhero watching our backs. If Banana Man is what he eats, he has to be super. The guy packs away a ton of bananas. Either that or he drags his hairy knuckles on the ground while scouting for bad guys.

Hunka and I walk our setters along the same route in pre-dawn darkness each day, and laying in the exact same intersection is evidence that Banana Man is real — a freshly discarded peel. In fact, so many peels litter this particular intersection they could pose a traffic hazard. It’s a favorite dog spot, too. “Curse you, Banana Man!” we say, as we yank the leftovers of his fruity adventures from clenched, setter jaws.

We dream up comic book plots; Banana Man chases down Derelict the Despicable, and serves up a dose of comeuppance with a forced serving of banana split topped with shards of brown bottle glass.

“Bottles are not biodegradable,” says Banana Man dramatically. “And it isn’t nice to drink and drive!”

He drops a writhing Derelict on the jailhouse steps, and a woman and child stare in awe as the yellow-Spandex’d crusader leaps into the darkness, leaving a sweet, fruity vapor in his wake.

“Grandma, who was that hairy-knuckled hero?” asks the boy.

“I don’t know,” says the woman. “All he left was this greasy peel. It must be Banana Man!”

Every superhero story requires a message, and this one is no different. Not only is it illegally villainous to drink and drive, but chucking glass bottles from car windows is flat-out despicable. So if you’re engaged in this type of derelict behavior, knock it off or beware the wrath of … Banana Man!

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