I stand in front of a shelf at the supermarket looking at rows of cans with tomato paste, and cannot decide which one is the right kind for my tomato soup. How do I know the red can with a bramble of leafy vines is the thing for me? Is it real tomatoes? Do they come with a certificate of authenticity? Were the fruits laden with pesticides or organically grown: sung and read to before bedtime. Were there common grounds and family values? Hydrophonic, heirloom or homegrown. Do their genetic make-up agree with mine? Were they augmented tomatodos or finessed tomatodinos before the octopus turbine crushed and pasted them on the blender wall. And did they bleed natural red without color additives?
The information overload can make any tomato drop off the drooping vine.
It took me twenty some years to decide there in no tomato I know of worth the agony of my decision. Now, I pick my paste by default whenever a yellow sliding tag says: buy three get one free, which translates to: buy three pay for five. But a blind eye has saved my sanity before.
This spring, however, I feel decision–stricken again through my college-bound senior. I should be tomato wise, but if I am, it doesn’t show, because she looks at me with agony in her eyes saying, “How do I know I make a right choice.” I want to say, Honey, you never know, but instead I say, “You choose and learn your tomatoes. Make the best of your mistakes. It's all a learning curve.” I listen to my words incredulously. What I really want to say is that curves can throw you for a loop, or trick you in a U-turn, but who am I to sort out her tomatoes. Let her choose and crush her own. So, I’m saving my sage advice. All I’ll say is, “ Honey, just avoid Beefeaters, who wants a mad cow caged in a can.”