As I hurried to make the Metro-North train, a well-dressed older gentleman stopped me outside the secret entrance to the Oyster Bar. (I know this because I use the bathrooms in the Oyster Bar when the public ones in Grand Central Station are too crowded, and I use the secret entrance which leads directly to the back of the Oyster Bar where the bathrooms are located.) “Miss!” he said, pointing to the banana I had just bought to alleviate the stomachache I had just gotten from the Excedrin I had just taken to combat the pounding headache I had not shaken even after the two espresso shots I had just pounded.

“Yes?” I said, putting the banana in my satchel. This banana cost me $0.59 in Grand Central Station and I was feeling huffy about this. It would have been $0.25 in a bodega. I hate how Grand Central and Penn Stations are like other countries, with their own economies (with a 2-to-1 exchange rate to the rest-of-New-York-dollar) and their own populations (of commuting suburbanites). The Voice costs $1.25 in these train stations, proving that they, much like the United Nations, are not actually a New York City territory.

The man leaned toward me. “The secret to bananas is never to put them in the refrigerator,” he said conspiratorially. “Did you know that, young lady?”

“You know,” I said. “I did know that. But thanks! Thanks very much.”

I’ve noticed that as people get older, they seem to distill down to a few basic but potent insights that they repeat more and more, as if trying to transmit their most essential knowledge as clearly as possible in the dwindling time they have left on this planet. Either that or they can’t remember anything else. Sometimes I feel entropic, as if my life and my very being are spreading ever further through time and space, as if one day I will meet my end in an explosion that will give off whatever comparatively paltry light the combustion of a human being can generate. But old people make me think that there is an opposite and equal force in the aging process, a kind of centripital spiral, a gravity. Maybe as parts of us fly off or are burned up in the spectacular joys and failures of our fading youth, some increasingly inward force is working to bind what remains into the individual nugget of the truth and wisdom that is the jewel produced by our journeys through this particular lifetime.

And so, because it seemed very important to this man outside the Oyster Bar today, I repeat:

The secret to bananas is never to put them in the refrigerator.

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