[The modern age] knows nothing about isolation and nothing about silence. In our quietest and loneliest hour the automatic ice-maker in the refrigerator will cluck and drop an ice cube, the automatic dishwasher will sigh through its changes, a plane will drone over, the nearest freeway will vibrate the air. Red and white lights will pass in the sky, lights will shine along highways and glance off windows. There is always a radio that can be turned to some all-night station, or a television set to turn artificial moonlight into the flickering images of the late show. We can put on a turntable whatever consolation we most respond to, Mozart or Copland or the Grateful Dead.
Mrs. Russell made us both sit down with a glass of milk. "And I have a special treat for you, " she said. I'm not lying. She really said that. I held my breath because of the last special treat at the Daughertys', but it didn't help, because when Mrs. Russell came back, she came back with a loaf of banana bread. Banana bread! And James said, "How about we have some jam with that?" and Mrs. Russell said, "Jam? Then you wouldn't be able to taste the bananas, " and James said, "Ma, I hate bananas, " and she said, "But I'm sure that Doug enjoys them, " and I said, "I think I'm still full from lunch, so the milk's fine, " and then Mrs. Russell picked up the plate with the banana bread on it, and you might not believe this, but she started to laugh and laugh a d laugh, until Mr. Russell came out to the kitchen to see what was so funny and she showed him the banana bread and he said, "I hate bananas, " and we all started to laugh until Mrs. Russell said, "I hate bananas too, " and you can imagine us all laughing until we were crying and finally Mrs. Russell took the banana bread outside to break it up for the birds-"Let's hope they like bananas"-and then I showed Mr. Russell Aaron Copland's Autobiography: Manuscript Edition, and he stopped laughing.
Gary D. Schmidt