SECOND BANANA SYNDROME
a comic who supports the leading comedian, often as a straight man, especially in burlesque or vaudeville.
any person who plays a secondary role or serves in a subsidiary capacity.
This is a very interesting blog for me to write, especially this week. But I have been thinking if not this week – when?
I’m writing it for several reasons; the first might be selfish, as I discover much about myself when I write, as well as often shooting the elephant in the room at the same time.
I was going to start out by saying, at the age of fifty-five I find myself for the very first time in the role of second banana. But that is not at all true. I have been second – make that fifth banana to my father my entire life. I come in at the bottom of a list of many children, most of whom are not even his own. So I have a deep, internal knowledge of second banana syndrome. I think in terms of my father we would have to qualify me as 100th banana, rotten banana, banana that was tossed out with the peels.
And I would venture to say many reading this have experienced the same thing. Who has not felt like second banana to a favored sibling, a coveted co-worker, a beloved spouse, an obnoxious dog, a brilliant cousin, a…oh god… it goes on and on.
Everyone in the world is second banana to someone at some point. I think that is why this is a universally relatable topic, and one that does dovetail nicely into Gratitude and Trust.
See in this little domain, the expanding world of G and T, no matter what I do, I will always be second banana to Paul.
I will go on record – Paul does not see me that way. But the rest of the world does. And how can they not? Paul is a world famous figure, made even more famous by his third Grammy win this week.
He has lived long enough and kept working at a high enough level to have reached legend status.
These are things I will never achieve. I’m too old and it would have happened by now.
Now I’m not saying that so people write in and blow smoke up my ass; Quite the opposite. I’m saying it to deflect it in one way. To acknowledge it publicly, so everyone knows that I know and have accepted it to be the case.
Aside from my paternal situation this is a new experience. In my work life I have for the most part been a single operator. While not having reached Paul’s level of success, I have had plenty of my own. I have been on national TV on my own, had my name plastered all over the press and billboards, had people even ask for my autograph, have had photographers yell my name and people ask me what I’m wearing. I have been a trending topic on Yahoo. I could keep going but it would start to sound like bragging or defending myself, none of which I want to do. Let’s leave it that I have tasted celebrity. Celebrity – light. And I would be lying to say I didn’t like it. I would be lying if there were not a part of me who thinks I have deserved more. I would be lying if I said I was not grateful that all the riches that have been bestowed upon me. I would be lying if I said I was not capable of being a spoiled brat sometimes. I would be lying if I said I did not do more than my lion’s share of work.
I would also be lying if I said I wasn’t’ deeply grateful that I am partnered with Paul Williams on this project.
There are days when I pinch myself to remind myself that this is real. On those days I think of the little girl who sat in the audience and listened to him sing and played all his records for decades, and now our names are linked forever on a book – soon to be published my Blue Rider Press in September: Even 2nd bananas self-promote.
I am grateful that his increasing celebrity builds this platform and thus our outreach and ability to help people grows more.
And there are my snarky days, my petulant days; the days when I yell at Paul for being more famous than me. I sometimes growl at him for getting more comments than I do. Sometimes I pout when he has to go do interviews and I stay back and write. Or when he won’t learn how to post blogs so I have to do it every night.
See, the life of a second banana is a complicated one, especially if the second banana is as fond of the first one as I am of him.
Yes, sure, there are days when I feel like more attention should be paid. Not for any reason other than I want it. And there are days when I feel like I don’t want to carry someone’s spear, even someone as unique and wonderful as Paul Williams.
I say all this because one of the most valuable things I have learned in therapy is, we are a revolving tray of emotions. My shrink calls it the Lazy Susan of feelings. One minute we might feel like the ketchup, all sugary and comfortable. Within minutes we can turn into mustard, tart and tangy, a jolt to the tongue.
We are forever wanting to limit our selves to one emotion or response, something we can rely on, something that stays fixed in time. But nothing stays fixed in time- emotions being at the top of the list.
And the wonderful thing is, on the days when I’m in my I’m not so happy with this second banana situation mood, an email will come in and someone will say, like they did today, “You both inspire me Daily”
And I am jolted back into the reality of what I am here to do.
I am reminded of our message to live each day in love and service.
Love and service knows no bananas. When you are helping people what difference does bananahood make?
Does my higher power pay attention to banana ratings? Or am I always top banana to him?
Banana status is all about ego. Ego, the very thing we work so hard to wrestle into submission.
Yes, I have an ego, we all do. Some days it jumps into the front seat and takes over the vehicle. But I try and shove into the back seat, or better yet the trunk.
And each day no matter what type of banana I may be I make every attempt to follow our affirmation to live our lives in gratitude and trust.
And I am deeply grateful that I was smart enough to lasso the great Paul Williams into doing this with me. I am grateful for his insight and his passion. I am grateful for his friendship and the little eyeglass cleaners he supplies me with all day. I am grateful for it all.
When I was 12 I wanted him to be my best friend. And now he is.
We are hopefully making a difference in some people’s lives and will continue to do so. We have fun doing it. That is a lot to be grateful for.
So who cares where I hang in the bunch?