I’ve known my friends Matthew and Maggie for, let’s see… 13 years now? All three of us went to the University of Michigan together, where Matthew and I were in the same department, and he and Maggie were dating back then. Now they’re married, and a few years ago, they bought an adorable house in Silver Lake, about 15 minutes away from me in Los Angeles.
I always have fun with Matthew and Maggie – a few months ago, we went to a firing range and shot some pistols. It was a big deal for me – my reward for losing 150 pounds, and TOOT TOOT TOOT TOOT… That’s me tooting my own horn, because it turns out I’m a pretty good shot. You can see my target and read about our day here.
Back in college, Matthew worked at a party store a block from the building where 80% of our classes were. I don’t mean party store like where you buy balloons, streamers, and pinatas – in Michigan, a party store is a liquor store, and the counter up front at Matthew’s party store had rows and rows of bins of candy – individual fun-size Snickers, Tootsie Rolls, peanut butter cups, and Laffy Taffy, all for 5 or 10 cents apiece. I would go in when Matthew was working, often multiple times a week, spend a dollar on an Icee or a Diet Coke, and just shoot the shit for a while, the whole time eating candy – lots and lots of candy. Matthew didn’t charge me for any of it, and I would leave with my pockets full so I had candy to munch on while walking home or wherever.
A few days ago, more than a decade later, Matthew emailed me to offer me more free food, although, this time around, it was of a much more healthy variety:
We have a ton of tomatoes. You should stop by and pick a few.
Uh, you don’t have to ask me twice! A few more emails were exchanged with Matthew and Maggie, and on Saturday afternoon I headed over to their house. Neither Matthew or Maggie were around – but they were cool with me stopping by and raiding their garden. Maggie had said, in another email, that the tomatoes were “out of control” and that “we just feel guilty that we can’t eat them all” but I didn’t know what to expect until I stepped into their yard. The tomatoes were out of control. They were everywhere, and they looked great:
One plant was so overloaded with tomatoes that the vines drooped down over the edge of the planter, all the way to the ground:
As I stood there, my entire field of vision filled with tomatoes, a dilemma formed in my head. How many tomatoes should I take? Matthew and Maggie were very kind to share their bounty, and made clear that there were more tomatoes than they could handle, but what’s an appropriate amount to me to relieve them of?
I often turn to humor when in a moral quandary like this one, so my first gut instinct was to chop down the plants altogether, so when they came home, they’d see a barren planter and maybe a note that said “thanks for the tomatoes!” with a smiley face. I think that’d be hilarious! Alas, that’s not something I’ve ever actually do, so I returned to the issue at hand.
I ended up being rational, and came up with three notions that I thought would be helpful to remember:
- I like tomatoes.
- I’m going out of town on Thursday for 6 days, so I’ll need a plan for the tomatoes I do take. (You’ll hear more about the trip in upcoming posts, don’t you worry)
- Naturally, I had just bought 2 big tomatoes at Whole Foods a day before I got Matthew’s email, but one of them I’ve already eaten.
Then I started picking. These tomatoes were ready to go – some practically fell off the vine when I touched them. Once I started picking it was hard to stop, and soon, I had these in my clutches:
Nine tomatoes, with the largest one (top left corner) about the size of a tennis ball. That seems like a respectable number, right? Not quite double-digits.
I looked again at the tomato plants, and realized it didn’t really look like I had even made a dent. And I also noticed that there were plenty more tomatoes that were up-and-coming:
OH! Matthew and Maggie also each mentioned, in separate emails, that they had plenty of sage and oregano too, and I could help myself to some herbs as well – but when I got there, in their yard, I couldn’t remember what sage and oregano looked like – they’re not herbs I buy fresh very often. I felt dumb, but I would have felt more dumb if I taken some leaves off a plant and tried to cook with them, only to realize they weren’t herbs at all!
I do have a plan for what I’m going to do with these tomatoes… and if I get my rear in gear today, it may even be the topic of tomorrow’s post!
Thank you, Matthew and Maggie, for the lovely tomatoes! Who needs a supermarket with you two supplying tomatoes, Tavi supplying grapefruit and tangerines, and Robert supplying kumquats? Seriously, all my other friends need to step up and plant gardens or get fruit trees, because getting fresh produce right off the tree (or vine) is completely awesome in every way.
Keep it up, David!