The Adventures of Tom in Veggieland

I've always liked vegetables just fine.  I wasn't a kid whose mom had to threaten or bribe to get me to eat them.  Spinach, broccoli, peas–all perfectly acceptable to me.  I wasn't a fan of raw tomatoes, which worked out well, because my dad is allergic to them. 

Or so he says–my brother and I think it's a ruse to avoid eating the infernal things.

I'm okay with fruit as well, except for cantaloupe.  Even the smell of cantaloupe makes me gag. 

All that said, I'd never be able to become a vegetarian.  I like, for example, country fried steak.

"But Tom! Do you know how horrible that is for you?"

Yes, I do.  It's a piece of cheap beef, breaded and fried, then drenched with gravy.  It's appallingly full of fat,

cholesterol, and Lord knows what else.  I didn't say I ate it every day, but gosh, it's good sometimes.

Amazingly, at most diners around here, you can get country fried steak and eggs for breakfast.  You'd think somebody would've banned it by now, but it's still on the menu.  Doll Baby and I had brunch Saturday, and it was right there.  I didn't get it, of course–I chose the far more nutritionally sound Italian sausage skillet with eggs–but my right to choose fried meat and eggs was intact.

My friend, Jill, had surgery last week, and I offered to go to the store for her while she recovered.  Believe me, I know how crappy you can feel when you're just out of the hospital.  A few times, friends brought me supplies, and it was really a tremendous help.  Jill is a vegetarian.  She's not militantly anti-meat–she took me out for a nice steak dinner before my Christmastide bout with spattergroit–but she chooses not to eat meat for health benefits.  I offered to buy her groceries, and she accepted, saying she wanted to lay-in some fruit supplies.  God bless her.  Excellent. 

A couple weeks before, I was driving home down 54th Ave N–ironically, with a take-out container of country fried steak and eggs beside me–and I noticed a cute little produce market.  I relayed this knowledge to Jill, and she said it would be lovely if I'd go there for her.

It was a lovely, 87-degree steambath of a day, and I set out in the noontime heat for this little oasis of greenness.  There were beautiful Easter lilies on sale out front–a tranquil, welcoming site.  I pulled into the small parking lot. 

I should've run.

The produce market is basically a big roof, underneath which are aisles of tables and displays full of nature's bounty.  I figured I'd select some nice vegetables for myself while I reconnoitered the joint, take those out to my truck, then call Jill for her order. 

There were some lovely giant sweet onions on sale, so I grabbed two of those.  Some yellow squash.  Good.  A seedless watermelon.  Excellent–that would be tasty on a hot day.  Then I spotted a sign proclaiming a special sale on silver queen corn.  Yum.   I love corn on the cob, so I–wait, what the hell?

I've bought fresh corn on the cob plenty of times.  It comes in a green styrofoam tray, covered with plastic wrap.  You can see the lovely rows of yellow niblets, all orderly and awaiting a soak in boiling water.  This corn wasn't like I buy in the store.  It was uncircumcised.  Who knew what weevils and worms and spiders could be hiding beneath the husk? And I wasn't crazy about the hair sticking out the top of each ear.  In silhouette, it would look like Bert from Sesame Street.


I selected four ears anyway, figuring I'd boil away the weevils or spiders or ambiguously gay Muppet.  I was getting tired of holding the watermelon by now, so I wandered up to the cashier counter.  The cashier was named Samantha, according to her nametag, and she was a healthy, makeup free, honeysuckle-scented young girl of maybe 21.  Samantha looked down at my selections.  She looked back up at me.  She looked anxious, then pressed a button underneath the counter.  A "moo" sounded over a hidden speaker, and an elderly woman with a face like Ernest Borgnine threw down her grapefruit and rushed over.

"What is it, Sam?"
"Agnes, I think he's a MEAT-EATER! I can smell it oozing through his pores!"

Agnes gasped, then looked up at me, sniffing appraisingly. 

"Is it true, son? Are you a flesh-eater?"

Before I could answer, Agnes had grabbed my hand and jabbed it with her pocketknife.  Samantha was ready with a test slide.  She caught a drop of my blood, then popped it into a small handheld computer device.  It beeped twice, whirred, then buzzed.

Agnes snapped her dirty leathery fingers, and two giant red-faced gents in overalls walked in from a back room. 

She turned to me.  "We  don't want no trouble, son.  Just go.  We don't cotton to no flesh-eaters here.  You're not welcome."
"Can I at least take my corn?"
"Hell, no! You'd probably serve it on the same plate as MEAT!"

Samantha gasped. 

"Look, I'm sorry! I didn't know.  I'm here for my vegetarian friend, Jill.  She just–"
"Jill Donleavy? Pretty brown-eyed girl, drives a blue Explorer?"
"You know her?"
"She's one of us.  Sam? Call Jill, and see if this guy's really her friend."

Thank God, Jill vouched for me.  I was allowed to buy lots of fruit for Jill, plus they let me keep my onions and my uncircumcised Bert corn.  The watermelon and squash had to go back. 

I delivered Jill''s fruit, and we both avoided the subject.  As I was leaving, she told me, "Next time you go, remind me to get you a visitor's pass from headquarters."
"Headquarters? There's a vegetarian headquarters? Where?"
"Plant City."

Of course.

Later that night, she was having some pain, and I offered to take her some Motrin.  I ran into the 7-Eleven, grabbed an overpriced bottle of Motrin and a Diet Mountain Dew.  As I stood waiting at the counter, perusing the latest tabloid headlines, I suddenly caught a gentle whiff of honeysuckle.  I turned to my right, and there was Samantha, with a Mega Big Gulp Dr Pepper and two Oscar Meyer hotdogs smothered in chili and cheese.  She blushed, beads of sweat bursting out on her brow.

"They're, um, for somebody else?"

I smiled at her and shook my head.

"Okay.  Come back Monday between noon and one.  Agnes will be at lunch, and I'll let you have your watermelon and squash. Okay?"

I winked, and made the universal "I'm zipping my mouth" gesture.  I took my Motrin and beverage and hit the door.

"Oh, and mister?"

I turned around and looked at Samantha, a delicate smear of chili on one youthful rosy cheek.

"Could you sneak me in a couple BK Double-Stacks when you come? There's nothing to eat around there."

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9 Responses to “The Adventures of Tom in Veggieland”

  1. Brilliant!Sounds like a scene out of some preposterous American soap. You couldn't write a scene better than that! Make me guffaw my cuppa.I would not have believed that if you hadn't written it. Love it!

  2. They should have that instead of "this is good": "Made me guffaw my cuppa." You rock, Kelly. 😉

  3. LMAO!!!Oh my gawd. Uncircumcized Bert corn. Crazy vegetarians! Lol!!!Wow, scary, but hilarious stuff, Tom!

  4. You need to ask her how she disguises her meat-pores. Granny Borgnine's puppeteer spotted you right off. What's Samantha's secret, I wonder, that keeps her from being found out?I loved raw potatoes as a kid. They're terrible for you, though. Taters need to be cooked to be safe.Funny post, Tom.

  5. Maybe it's the honeysuckle perfume. Perhaps, too, I just smelled of fresh bacon egg & cheese biscuit. I wasn't into raw potatoes, though. Fried with ketchup or brown gravy? Mashed? Hash browned? Chips? Sticks? Knish? Latkes? Boiled and diced with mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, and a dollop of mustard? All delish. If you're into potato sashimi, Kirk, that's just fine with me. 😉

  6. I forgot to mention that chicken fried steak is da bomb and that photo makes me want some right now.I don't touch the tater sashimi anymore. Too old to live on the edge anymore.

  7. [isto é bom]

  8. hehe.

  9. I love this story! I can't pick just one favorite line. =) Hilarious.

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