These Slugs are Bananas – 4th of July

4 Jul


This year, my 4th of July was so full of pure and innocent Americana excitement that it could put a Judy Blume novel to shame. So that’s where I’m drawing inspiration from from with this blog, Judy.

The weekend began like any good Blume book would: with a fun group of friends, a summer at a lake, and most importantly, a competition. So without further ado, I present to you:


T h e     S u m m e r     o f       t h e       M i g h t y       S l u g s

Chapter One: The Search for Slugs

The day before the 4th of July. Aka the 3rd of July.
My friends and I drove to my parents’ cottage at Findley Lake to soak up some sun, and since this is the year of never ending holidays (see Christmas) — this was going to be my never ending birthday.   My parents decided that since so many of my people (heart eyes) were going to be up at the lake this would also be my families time to celebrate my birthday! Fun!!  

Before we got there, there had been murmurings all over town about the annual boat decorating competition.  “Let’s sign up!” Patrick said last year. “It sounds so playful!” He had planted the seed.  This was going to be the first time we’d ever signed up for the prestigious competition

We found out that the 2018 theme was….drumroll please…. college sports teams!  (?!)  Uh oh.  “So, that’s different than regular sports teams?” – Helen.  

Before the big day my mom and I spent hours scouring the Internet for the most original team we could find. We wanted to think of the perfect mascot to TOTALLY DESTROY the competition (but, like…in a really sweet and innocent way).   Should we channel the Syracuse mascot, the Otto the Orange? No, too east. How about the Ragin’ Cajuns? Seeing as though we’d have to dress up for the competition, we looked at something slightly less racist. We found the perfect team: The UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs (we’re fans for life). Not only was this the most (respectfully) hilarious mascot I’ve ever heard of but we could easily all dress in yellow, it was like a furry without the fur, and the mascot’s name is legitimately Sammy. So that settled it. We were on our way to complete world domination!  I mean…winning the Findley Lake boat competition!



Chapter Two: Birthday Banana Slug Bonanza

Like I said before, it was the perfect time to celebrate my birthday (never-ending) since so many people I loved were in the same place at once. And because my parents are creative and absolute gems, they held true to the theme when picking out my birthday cookie cake.

“Can you decorate it with banana slugs?” My parents asked the cake decorator who just stared at them in return. Had no one ever asked them for slug decorations? Not even kids who are into bugs when they’re in 3rd grade?

“Well, what about if  you just decorate it like a butterfly without the wings?” My parents explained. The decorator was on board with this strange request. AND IT WAS PERFECT!  My parents surprised me with the ABSOLUTE cutest cookies with banana slugs on them, and they. were. DELICIOUS!!!



Banana slug birthday cookies — highly recommended!


So we put some candles in the cookies, I closed my eyes with all my might, made a very special birthday wish — I think you know what it was  (if you guessed it was to win the boat decorating competition, you were right.).  And when Brit got me some “lucky me, lucky you” shoes as a birthday gift (thank you, I love them), I couldn’t help but take it as a sign and wonder… will I get what I wished for?



Wishing on Sammy the slug to do Sammi a solid and win us this competition.



The best bananas are the ones shaped like slugs… made of frosting… on cookies…


Chapter Three: The Banana Slug Way (aka mostly Katie)

When the first of the guests arrived, we kicked off the decorating process by spending time blowing up hundreds of thousands of yellow balloons! We hadn’t realized how much huffing and puffing Patrick had done until he left (thank you!).


Give those crazy kids a yellow balloon, please.



50 balloons going on 500


While I was turning blue by blowing up an obscene amount of yellow balloons, Katie switched jobs and made the most adorable signs in town. They were made with such care and thought, everyone in the banana slug brigade was impressed. If there had been an internal decorating competition for the decorating competition, Katie definitely would’ve won the title of the Banana Slug’s REAL MVP, thank you!!


Adorable! Look at that basketball, the slugs know sports!



Photobombed by the cutest slug you’ll ever see.



Someone call pest control! We have a slug infestation in the living room!


Chapter Four: Slugs Thrive in the Rain

It was the day of the boat competition. The morning was a flurry of activity. We set up for the competition, and while I ran to the firehall to grab us some chicken for lunch, the rest of the crew headed to the duck race, in which we each had $1,000 riding on our prize-winning duck. Just kidding. But really, there was a lot at stake. Just kidding. But in a Judy Blume novel, our reputation definitely would’ve depended on it which would have been bad because every single one of us had a duck in the competition and every single one of us lost.  We hoped this wasn’t foreshadowing.


No need to call PETA, folks, these are not real ducks.


That afternoon, a dark cloud settled over Lake Findley. Literally. It started raining. So Team Show on the Road (a section of Banana Slug Brigade consisting of Molly and I) headed out to the docks to see what that would mean for the boat decorating competition. We brought a banana slug cookie with us for luck and for sustenance (bananas are fruit). When we reached the tent, the judges told us that the competition was not cancelled, but only pushed back a couple of hours. “Boats-poned” as we started to say. We went back to the house to see if there was any damage done to the signs and decorations we had already put up. Some of them were a little wet, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. After all, slugs thrive in rain!!



Straight up sluggin’.


And so once the sun finally came out again over beautiful Findley Lake, we headed to our boat to cheer, scream, clap, and show the judges what the banana slug spirit was all about. We had so much fun, and I had a blast getting to know and bonding with Molly’s boyfriend. He was the first to use the new stove in our house! Life was like salt — we put it on everything.


Living that slug life.



Can’t spell SLIME without SMILE… ok yeah, you can. But you use the same letters.

We laughed, we chanted, and we used Gwen Stefani’s song,
Hollaback Girl, to make sure everyone knew we were B-A-N-A-N-A-S. (If you don’t use that song to spell bananas every time, you’re lying.)



Happy slugs.


As we drove around the second half of the 5-mile lake, we had trouble chanting, screaming, and getting up the hype. Banana slugs must go into hibernation when they reach the second half of the lake. But thank goodness we had already been judged because some of balloons were popping in the heat.  It was that first time we had passed the judges that they had made their decision, inspecting the boats. We had eyed-up the competition. We were mostly worried about a beauty school swim team made up of mature women, which was a crowd favorite. If this were in true Blume fashion, they would’ve been our lifelong rivals and hurled schoolyard insults at us or given us the stink eye. But they didn’t, in fact, they seemed nice. We kept our eye on another boat, too. The one that chose Penn State as their college team. “They’re a shoo-in. Of course the crowd is going to choose Penn State!” my mom lamented.

“Don’t give up just yet!” said Brit with a huge grin. “I have one last trick up my sleeve.” And with that, she brought out some bananas with drawn-on faces.

“For the judges.” She said. And so the banana slug brigade threw out the bananas to the judges — making sure none landed in the lake — as something sweet to remember us by.



Bribing the judges with nutrition.


Chapter Five: And the Winner Is…

A quiet hush descended upon the competitors. We watched the judges in silence as they took the megaphone to announce the winners. 

“And the winner is….” The announcer began.

We bit our nails in suspense.


*******The whole population of Findley Lake erupted in boisterous cheers. It was louder than a Penn State football stadium! Everyone came to congratulate us because they knew how hard Katie worked on the amazing posters, which, for sure got us the win. That, and the epic balloons everywhere and the bananas we threw at the judges.

“I always knew you could do it.” Said some guy who we had never met before.

“You’re my heroes!” Said a kid who swam up to our boat out of nowhere.

We were presented with the trophy, and I thanked Sammy the Slug who had undoubtedly heard my birthday wish.*******


*******Section may be a dramatized version of real events.*******



Captured: Brit’s love affair with the trophy.



“Slow & steady wins the race” was never a phrase about turtles.. It was clearly about banana slugs!!


The only thing we (or rather Katie) lost were a few Instagram followers due to the wild stories she was posting out of context. Molly was on epic cleanup (thank you!) And seperatly, Colleen orchestrated a very helpful family talk. With that HUGE win in our pockets, we settled in to enjoy the rest of the evening. We watched the 4th of July fireworks from the boat with smiles on our faces.

“The fireworks are good, but the trophy is better.” My mom said as she patted me on the back.

And when the judges announced the theme for next year, most people got excited. The theme? Favorite band.  Will the banana slugs be back again to rock the boat?!


Winning isn’t everything (but it sure feels good!)


Sammi the slug

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