Thursday, August 2, 2012

Oh! Tomato Man!

Sunday was a rare day, all mine.  On days like this, I usually go off to the flea market at 6:00 AM, treasure hunting for vintage costume jewelry or other curiosities.  I didn’t go flea-ing this Sunday because I am moving and haven’t yet figured out how to fit everything I own into a shoe box. Introducing one more object into the mix, great find or not, isn't the brightest of ideas.

So I went to my class at the community college, and ran a few leisurely errands. But by mid-afternoon my need to seek was so great that I found myself pulled, trance-like to the flea market grounds. I knew that all the vendors would be gone by that point. And I really wasn’t going to sniff around with hopes of finding an old brooch, slipped out of its box into the gravel or a fly-away antique photo, forgotten and left behind, honest - I wasn’t. But I was desperate for a discovery.  I set my sights on the antiques center on the complex knowing they would still be open. I just couldn’t get  my mind off the bins and bins of old postcards just sitting there in the air conditioned ambiance. 

Settling in, savoring the smell of mildew and history, I sat on a stool, while Sinatra sang from someplace, immortal. Ghosts of yesteryear, peered down approvingly from their ornate frames. The patina-ed furniture, welcomed like church pews.  I could hear other customers talking to the dealers about their furniture and jewelry purchases. “Can you do better? Is that a firm price? Is it oak, is it silver?" 

 I loved sitting there in collectible heaven, filing through the postcards.  There were thousands, mostly of the souvenir variety, not my favorite, which made the dig for art cards, all the more challenging.  After an hour and a half, yes an hour and a half, ( I left no card unturned )I narrowed my purchase down to seven – a select few Christmas postcards for a dollar each.  How much space can a postcard (or seven) take up anyway?

As I was leaving, I saw a dark-haired, burly man, an owner I guessed. He was eating a late lunch at the check-out counter  - a fresh Jersey beefsteak tomato (no doubt from the farm right down the road) served up in Tupperware bowl. He ate this neatly, merely this and nothing more.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” I told him as I was leaving the store. He looked up in complete understanding. (If you have ever eaten a Jersey tomato, warm from the vine, then you, no doubt, understand too). The man smiled as I opened the door. He looked so sweet, almost vulnerable, sitting there enjoying his "tomada".

The bell clanked behind me. I took a step or two onto the sidewalk, and walked, without warning, right into a wall of loneliness. I suddenly ached for company. I ached to cut up a tomato for a man.

I dropped my postcards and ran back into the store. I rushed behind the counter where he sat and knelt next to the big man with the tomato. I didn't hug him, I merely rested my head on his chest, listening to the heart beat of a real man.

Come on. (Did you really think I would drop my postcards?)

But as I felt the sidewalk beneath my feet again, and my legs continued to take me toward my car, I couldn’t help entertaining that scenario. What if I had run back in? I pictured the man’s startled expression, his paw automatically patting my back in comfort; he and the other workers stunned by the surprise violation of  his personal space. Who was this woman, resting her weary head on his chest, breathing in his imagined chivalry?

 I laughed at the thought of it, and laughing when you are alone does have a tendency to send off alarm bells of lunacy. I saw a couple of other treasure- hunters hesitate, assessing the degree of  danger that I posed; a fifty-something woman, alone and laughing quietly to herself with no Bluetooth discernible. But, I must have seemed harmless enough, because they cautiously continued on. So did I, enjoying my day alone, doing things that I enjoy.


  1. It sounds like a day of simple fun, the kind of day that matters so much when one is lonely. I've had more than a few of them through the years. You described it so well and your little fantasy is so understandable.

  2. oh I loved this...and I love your way of writing
    but anywhoo.....I think your intuition was on to something..something in that smile over the tomato...go back
    get to know mr burly
    I am glad that you have a new place to call your own for a while...doesn't matter the size...All you have is all you need...remember that one? Fill it with you, floor to ceiling...make it sanctuary
    boy, I like you more and more
    and get writing that book

  3. Hi Suz, well the shoebox, was literal. I meant fitting all I own into a shoebox and taking that with me to someone's house, all their own, who is kind enough to let me and my daughter reside. I cannot fill it floor to ceiling, not even a little bit, but I can put fresh flowers on the table... someday though, someday, that is something to work for.

    1. well......This I is part of the path....what looks like such only a buried stone in the ground that you step on once as you go forward......why he is doing this to his family...I can't imagine What kind of laws do you have there in New Jersey? I hope you have a lawyer who eats nails for breakfast.....that bastard....Now I am mad.
      write that damn book is your way out....
      you have the have a voice
      And God bless this someone who has opened their home and hearth and heart to you......
      and your daughter.....rise,girl,rise