On this morning in August when I was 13, my mother sent us out pick
tomatoes. Back in April I'd have killed for a fresh tomato, but in August
they are no more rare or wonderful than rocks. So I picked up one and threw
it at a crab apple tree, where it made a good *splat*, and then threw a tomato
at my brother. He whipped one back at me. We ducked down by the vines,
heaving tomatoes at each other. My sister, who was a good person, said,
"You're going to get it." She bent over and kept on picking.
What a target! She was 17, a girl with big hips, and bending over,
she looked like the side of a barn.
I picked up a tomato so big it sat on the ground. It looked like it
had sat there a week. The underside was brown, small white worms lived in it,
and it was very juicy. I stood up and took aim, and went into the windup,
when my mother at the kitchen window called my name in a sharp voice. I had
to decide quickly. I decided.
A rotten Big Boy hitting the target is a memorable sound, like a fat
man doing a belly-flop. With a whoop and a yell the tomatoee came after
faster than I knew she could run, and grabbed my shirt and was about to brain
me when Mother called her name in a sharp voice. And my sister, who was a
good person, obeyed and let go -- and burst into tears. I guess she knew that
the pleasure of obedience is pretty thin compared with the pleasure of hearing
a rotten tomato hit someone in the rear end.
- -- Garrison Keillor, "Lake Wobegon Days"