I dunno about you, but I need a break from the serious stuff.
Last night, I acquired two fresh, ripe tomatoes from a friend and put them on the back seat of the Red Barron (our Hybrid SUV). When we got home, there was only one tomato.
I wondered: Where is the other tomato?
I looked on the floor, under the seats, in the hatchback. Urban & I had gotten into a stupid fight (as if there is another kind) on the way home, so he was like, Jeeze, now what? My reply: Well, SOMEBODY has to take care of things around here! At least ONE of us cares about the missing tomato! He gave me a long look, but said nothing and went into the house, because, really…there's no response to that.
I got a flashlight & looked again. No tomato.
After awhile I gave up and followed Urban inside, where we made up, ate frozen pizza and Thai veggie dumpling for dinner and watched the first half-hour of “Southland Tales.” No one mentioned the tomato.
Before bed, I asked, a little shyly, if he got the tomato and just didn’t say anything, you know, to fuck with me. We were fighting. He gave that same long look (if you’re married, you know the one) and said no. We went to bed. I wondered about the tomato for awhile before I fell asleep. Where could it be?
At about 2pm today, I am in the kitchen making lunch when I suddenly remember the tomato. It’s a bright, sunny day so I head outside, open all the Barron’s doors, and conduct a visual inspection. I even check the glove compartment. No tomato.
Did the Barron eat it? I think not. That goddamn tomato is in here somewhere.
I plop onto the grass, wish I had a cigarette, and stare at the Barron sitting in the driveway, doors agape. He’s not giving up his secrets. After awhile, Sabbath (our barn cat) comes over to see what’s up. Sabbath is inexplicably fascinated by our vehicles, and relishes the opportunity to explore them. He peeks in the front seat and hops up. This gives me an idea. I shoo Sabbath out, and go get the dogs.
Dogs can smell stuff, right? They use them to find lost people in huge tracts of land and collapsed buildings, so I figure a tomato in a Lexus should be no problem.
Barnabas and Shiduri have been observing the drama from behind the fence, and are delighted to be included. They rush out of the gate, see the Barron’s open doors, and throw themselves in. After some pushing and shoving, which B-dog predictably loses, they flop down on the backseat and grin at me in anticipation. I tell them we’re not going anywhere, and try to explain about the tomato. They do not care. Just like their father.
I am on my own.
Although they disappointed me, I feel bad that the dogs are excited to go somewhere, so I hop barefoot into the Barron and cruise around the neighborhood. When the dogs are in the car, I drive carefully. (I used to say “I drive like an old lady,” but a couple of years ago I got totally obliterated IN THE CELICA, my I-will-blow-the-doors-off-your-jacked-up-customized-Honda-with-the-ridiculously-huge-spoiler-you-gel-haired-little-punk car, pulling out of a stoplight on HWY 7, by a tiny little old lady in an Audi TT. She was wearing an “I Love My Grandma!” sweatshirt. When we stopped at the next light, she looked over, smiled, and said: I hope someday you can get yourself a real sports car, kid. I learned respect the hard way.)
Anyway, with the pups in the car, I drive carefully, which is boring but gives me time to think. At the intersection of CR 10 & 123, I have a brilliant idea. My normally aggressive driving is just what I need to deal with the tomato situation.
I take the dogs home, usher them out of the car and into the house, grab my purse, and hop back in the Barron, still barefoot. This shouldn’t take long. About halfway down our long farm driveway, I hit the brakes.
I was only doing about 10 MPH, but figure that’s enough to roll that little tomato right out of its hidey hole. I crane around and look at the floor of the backseat. I don’t see it right away, so I hop out, open all the doors, etc., etc.
There is no sign of the tomato.
I get back in the car, turn left onto Harff Road, and, getting up a little more speed, try again. Get out, open doors, look for tomato. Repeat. I do this about four times, going a little faster every time—I’m not crazy (really) so I’m not doing more than 25-30 MPH.
That’s when the Sherriff pulls me over.
Sherriff: Ma’am are you ok? Have you been drinking?
Me: Uh…no. I’m ok and I have not been drinking.
Sherriff: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Me: I look crazy?
Sherriff: (gives me a long look. I resist the urge to ask if he’s married.) You have been driving somewhat erratically. I’ve been watching you get in and out of your vehicle. Is something wrong?
Me: So, yesterday I got two tomatoes from a friend…
I tell him the whole story. He starts laughing when I get to the part about the dogs. When I am done, he give me directions to the nearest veggie stand so I can go get myself another tomato. I really want to explain that I ALREADY HAVE A PERFECTLY GOOD TOMATO and if I don’t find it, it will ROT and STINK in my car. But, sanity prevails. I just thank him and head home. This tomato thing, and the fact that I am the only one who understands that the smell of rotting tomato is not cool, is starting to piss me off. The cop didn’t care. Urban didn’t care. Even my dogs, who can usually be relied upon for empathy, didn’t care. Fine! I give up!
The Barron lurches to a stop next to the house; I slam my door and stomp towards the front door, then realize I left my purse in the car. I stomp back, tug open the passenger side door…
…and there, sitting on the passenger side floor mat, is the tomato. Red, shiny and silent. Where were you, little tomato?
I may never know. But I’m glad you’re back.