The Adventures of Banana Boy


By Thea Gonzales

Cautiously, sophomore James Dume checked for the telltale red of security guard jackets around the south lobby before shrugging and pulling up the hood of his suit, becoming once again the flip side of his split personality: Banana Boy.

“I’m breaking the rules by wearing my hood,” Dume whispered conspiratorially, eyes still darting across the room as if any moment would bring with it a fleet of red heralded by the crackling of walkie-talkie noise.

While most sophomores spent their first semester concerned with trying to fit into the new year’s environment, Dume deviated from that trend every Thursday, dressing as a banana to save the school from its quotidian doldrums.

The Ordinary World

Other than having evil villain potential in his last name (Dr. DOOM), Dume rose from the troubled halls of Niles West as an unlikely hero. The potassic metamorphosis was sudden and poignant, but Dume maintains his identity as a regular guy: human for 4/5 of the school week and casual banana for the other 1/5.

After school, Dume enjoys playing soccer for funsies and attends sci-fi club on Thursdays to debate the existence of midi-chlorians and the like. In his free time, he plays video games in his room– not at all plan(tain)ning how to save the citizens of Niles West via the nutritional value of Vitamin B6.

The Call to Adventure

In the beginning of the year, Dume received destiny’s summon to heroism at a sci-fi club meeting one fateful Thursday. And thus Banana Boy was born out of a dare, with no hidden agenda or intended objective in mind.

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By Rachel Hernandez-Velarde

“There’s no real meaning to it; I just wear it for fun. It was actually a dare! In sci-fi club one day as a joke, I said that if one of the sponsors wore a dress, I’d wear a banana suit. Then everybody told me, ‘Oh you have to wear it now.’ I wasn’t actually going to, but they dared me to. I came to school one day and people actually liked it, so I thought, ‘You know, I might keep this going,'” Dume said.

Sophomore Orion L. Sommer has been friends with Dume since 6th grade in Lincoln Hall and still finds himself surprised by Dume’s “why not?” attitude.

“It all started when somebody dared him in sci-fi club; I just thought, ‘Okay, I’ll roll with it’– it was pretty funny. And then he showed up on that first day with the banana suit on and I just said, ‘What the heck? You actually did it. Oh my god, James,'” Sommer said.

Tests & Trials 

Digging the costume —  previously purchased at Spirit Halloween for $20 — out of his closet, Dume completed the dare and then took to wearing it every week: much to the delight and chagrin of many staff and student body members.

Oftentimes prejudged as someone just monkeying around, Dume has caught the attention of many a Negative Nelly and been misunderstood by security guards trying to keep the school safe.

“Some days as I’m leaving my classroom, there’s this one guy — I’m not sure what his name is — but he always gives me the stink eye as I’m passing him… some people hate it. A lot of people like it… After school, I took it off and a friend of mine took some stuff out of my bag and the suit and hid it around the school. My bus was leaving so I had to sprint around the school and try to find my stuff; I almost got kicked out because a security guard saw me running and thought I was just goofing off,” Dume said.

However, in his struggles as a banana, Dume found success as a human, making several new friends by dressing up.

Does the suit function as an a-peel-ing icebreaker for freshmen trying to get to know each other? Does Dume’s transformation include the traditional banana’s strange “banana hairs” feature?

The mystery still lives on.

The Return with a Gift

This may sound bananas, but Dume spurns the glitz and glam of showbiz as a botanical hero. As of the present, Dume insists upon living as a normal guy with an easy philosophy on joy and an unconventional method of sharing it.

Though he has never made eye contact for more than 2 seconds with some students, Dume has already inspired strangers throughout the school with his banana tradition — one that he hasn’t slipped from all year.

“I see him every Thursday on my way to 5th period lit. A lot of my friends think he’s weird, but it strangely brightens my day to see a kid with such tenacity to dress up as a banana every single week. It’s funny. It’s interesting. I’m pretty sure he lost a bet. But who cares? You do you, Banana Boy!” senior Jaqueline James said.

In a community of seemingly stress-based organisms with hormones raging and faces buried in cellphones, James Dume transforms into a hero every Thursday. Unceremoniously, he shows the importance of little things and their impact on a day.

And that is a simple kind of heroism: one that asks for nothing and one that Dume denies with an easygoing shrug of his banana shoulders.

“Some people have told me to stop, but I told them, ‘Do you. I’ll do me.’ Banana Boy still has a long road ahead of him,” he said.