Let's set a couple ground rules for this one, okay?
First of all, I want anyone reading this to know I respect every person's right to their own fruit preferences. This story is not about a particular fruit system being good or bad or otherwise. It's just about me being an asshole and pretending to be a part of a certain family of fruit to get a sweet job. SO, let's all remember-- say it with me-- I tell this story with all due respect.
Second, I don't want anyone to get their feelings hurt, so we are going to change some names of people and things around for the protection of feelings, dignity, and my soul. Mostly, I'm just going to use the words "fruit" and "banana".
Third, don't judge me. I did what I had to do, alright? And to my ex-colleagues... I'm sorry. I deceived you. This is my confession.
I was fresh out of University and for some reason, by some incredible fluke, I got offered my dream job. I had dreamed my entire University career of graduating with my Bachelor of Social Work and going on to work in schools with students as a sort of guidance counsellor. It just so happened that just weeks after I had thrown my cap in the air and assumed the terrifying responsibility and crippling debt after post-secondary education, a former colleague of my moms had posted just the job for me.
The job was just as I always wanted; I was going to be working in a school with a lot of high needs kids and families and provide guidance, resources, and counselling. It was a job I was told by my professors I could never land fresh out of school and there it was right in my lap. Everything I wanted. Well, except for a slight twist... this wasn't a regular school. It was a... let's call it a... banana school. The thing about banana schools is that the staff sort of have to identify as bananas and be a part of the banana community and have a duty to teach the children attending the banana school the ways of the banana beliefs. Makes sense, really-- if you don't want to be involved with banana stuff or don't believe in it, it's probably best not to work for a banana school. You have that choice. I had that choice. My choice probably should have been not to work for the banana school... but this job was perfect. This was my dream come true, and, I thought, surely banana stuff won't change much. I attended banana school from 4th to 8th grade so I figured, at the very least, I understood banana stuff, even if I didn't always agree with it, but I was sure I could find a way to ethically do my job regardless.
When you become employed by a banana school you have the choice of signing two contracts... the banana contract and the non-banana contract. The thing is, they are basically the same thing: either you are banana and will only do banana things and live a banana life, or you're not banana but will make sure everyone thinks you are, especially the children.
I decided, with my knowledge of bananas and for the sake of eligibility/ a leg up on the competition, I would pose as a banana. I didn't think it would hurt, it's not like I was going to be teaching fruit class to the children or anything. What harm could it do to just say I'm a banana? They won't know any different-- I won't be talking much about fruit when it comes to being a guidance counsellor, anyway. It can't impact my life that much to tell this little yellow lie... right?
Fast forward to getting hired and I'm sitting in a room with a lady, we'll call her Mary, who is extremely banana, talking almost exclusively about banana-ism and going over the non-banana things I can't do. She started with, "Banana school staff can't cohabit with their boyfriends before marriage, or have premarital sex."
I mean that's totally fair. I hear you on that one, Mary. You're totally right. Men are gross. Especially unmarried ones. It's, um, it's justthat I believe living together is pretty important before deciding if you wanted to marry a person but I don't have to tell the children that. I just want to see just how much of my boyfriend's wet towels on the floor or hair in the drain I can tolerate before deciding to spend the rest of my life with him. You now what I mean, girlfriend?
but instead, I said, "Oh yeah, of course."
Mary seemed like she wasn't yet convinced. She looked me up and down. "Do you have a boyfriend?"
Okay, rude. I know this extremely unflattering swing dress and kimono don't show that I've got it going on but I'm quite the catch. Lots of boys want to have premarital sex with me, okay?
"Yes, I do."
"Where does he live?
Oh, you know, with me in the house we definitely just bought and have had sex in. Like, a lot. It was not very banana flavoured sex either if you know what I mean. Not that banana sex is bad. I don't really even know what banana sex is. I'm sure it's great.
"Oh, he's living in our home town. I live in Blackfalds."
Mary was suddenly (and naively) pleased, and seemingly quite relieved that I wasn't some cohabiting premarital sex having heathen. "Oh good-- that's very good. Okay, I'll continue."
Before Mary continues, let me tell you a little something about this particular part of my double life. You see, this is where a lot of lying took place and where I definitely feel some apologies to my former staff members may be due. You would think my cohabiting would not be something that came up much at work, and would, therefore, be easy to hide, right? Wrong. Very wrong. I was constantly having to correct myself from saying "our" house, or "we", or anything involving my definitely not live-in boyfriend who I definitely never had sex with until we were married. To the staff who began to become a bit concerned with my mental health after referring to myself (and possible voices in my head) as "us" numerous times, I am very sorry. I'm not psychotic, just a lying whore.
Okay but now you're thinking that surely once I learned to only speak about myself as if my boyfriend didn't exist it would be pretty easy to hide my cohabiting, right? Well, this became ESPECIALLY tricky when I was transferred full time to work at the brand new banana school in my town... which happened to be located directly across the street from my home. Like, my front door was visible from the school. Like, anyone could see who was coming and going from my home at any time should they quite literally glance over. Such as the man I was not supposed to be living with or sleeping with, who was living and sleeping there. I lived a two minute walk from my workplace but I would drive to the school and home, taking the longest way possible, so as not to lead anyone to believe that the sinful building across from the school was my home. This worked, of course, until a month into the school year when every single child I had met came trick or treating to my house, pointing out that my home was just so darn visible from the school. Excellent.
Now my husband began to have to be picked up and dropped off in the back alley when he caught the carpool to work; he couldn't even mow the front lawn or shovel the walk, and if he did, we were coming up with our alibi all evening for what I would say at work the next day. You know, just how to casually mention that my boyfriend came for a friendly hang out session and offered to shovel the walk before he left without any sex.
Now I know what you're finally thinking: there's no way the school would ever notice or care enough to notice. But that's where you are wrong again, my friend. The banana school was just as sneaky and undercover as me because they did not want people signing these contracts for a sweet job and not following the rules. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I DID, REMEMBER?! I was playing a dangerous banana game with dangerous bananas. They once literally tracked a suspected cohabiting staff member's IP address on their work laptop to an address different than theirs and caught them staying at their partner's house and told the staff to get married or lose their job. And yes, they can do that, because that staff member just so happened to sign the sweet, sweet contract that said they are a banana through and through and would live like a banana!
I even knew a staff member who showed up for the Monday morning staff meeting and announced their elopement over the weekend-- when I leaned over to a fellow staff member and said I didn't know they were engaged, their response was, "They weren't, but they were caught living with their partner last Thursday." I began realizing that I was definitely not the only bad banana, but it was pretty hard to figure out who the other ones were without giving yourself away and ending up married or fired. So to the staff who got caught and were forced into hasty marriage just so you could freely bang, pick up your boyfriend's dirty socks, have your lawn mowed and keep your job... I'm very sorry. I wish I could have shared my secrets and tactics with you. I wish we knew the secret bad banana handshake.
I think you can see now that the bananas were not playing games. And neither were we. And by we I mean... me. So I was forced to be a big fat lying fake banana! Right? I mean, I had a duty to help the lovely children and families, just as I was trained to do. I had a passion for the wellbeing of people in the school community. I wanted to do this job so badly and every day I spent in those schools my passion grew larger and larger... I just also really had a passion for premarital sex and cohabitation... and being paid and having good dental benefits.
Back at the banana contract reading, Mary went on to explain all of the other banana things I needed to be doing, especially in regards to sharing my banana experiences with staff, students, and families, and attending weekly banana meetings outside of school. I'll just get these apologies out in point form.
- I'm sorry to my administrative staff who asked me about my weekly banana meeting attendance and I lied and said I went to banana meetings in my old home town every week and got away with it because they still by some fluke had me in the banana meeting directory from about 13 years prior. The picture was still of me at 9 years old. It's fine.
- I'm sorry about the time when the whole banana school district got together to celebrate being bananas and I said that the song we sang denouncing bad bananas was "kind of a bop"
-I'm sorry that every time it was my turn to choose and lead the banana poems at the Monday staff meetings I would say I had explosive diarrhea and not do it. I'm also sorry that when I was finally forced to quite literally stay even if I pooped my pants, I sort of just read some really weird doctored version of "What if Fruit was one of us" by Joan Osborne really fast.
-I'm sorry I messed up the words to so many banana poems because I remembered them how they were when I went to banana school and wasn't up to date on the new ones even though I was supposedly attending weekly banana meetings.
-I'm sorry that when the 14-year-old boy crying in my office that he was scared the king banana would not love him because he was gay, I told him that king banana loves everyone no matter what, and then popped popcorn and watched an episode of Drag Race with him. Actually, I'm not sorry about that one. I'm just sorry it was Season 7.
As the contract meeting came to a close, I took the pen in my hand to sign on that banana line, and I saw my entire career at the banana school district flash before my eyes: lies, deception, betrayal, a possible firing situation where I screamed that someone can't handle the truth. I also thought about the kids and parents I might help, the safe space I could provide for kids and parents, the friendships I could form, the possibility of being someone's reason to come to school, or even just a reason to smile.
So I signed. I lied. I was a fraudulent, bad banana. I confess. But I was also all of the things I dreamed of being. I don't regret a single second of my undercover days. I met some amazing kids and parents and I was damn good at my job, banana or not. I didn't get to storm out and yell that no one could handle the truth but if any of the banana school staff see this, they really may not be able to.