The other day I was thinking about a book I read when I was in my early teens. It was about four kids living with their father (I think he was widowed).
When the kids got bored inside, they would play various games. One game was a variation on Twenty Questions that only involved identifying people. One of the characteristics was which vegetable the person most resembled.
I thought it would be interesting to turn the idea around and give the vegetables human characteristics. So let’s join the Tomato sisters, Roma and Cherry, at a cocktail party.
Cherry is indignant. “I can’t believe I had to beg for an invitation to this party. They said it was vegetable only, and we’re fruits. I mean seriously, who knows we’re fruit except humans who remember their first biology class and these snobby Corn people. And they are so crass.
Look at Mrs. Corn. She thinks she’s being sophisticated with her husk peeled down like that. It looks like she wants to show as much kernel as she can without giving away the whole ear. And her husband is in the soaking pool with all those young corn plants.”
Roma giggles. “Look over there at the Cabbages. I don’t understand why Red ever married into the Green family. They are so boring. And she lets him go alone into Cole Slaws with the Carrots. Cherry adds, “Of course she does. He’s so dull she doesn’t have to worry about any of the Carrots being interested in him.”
Roma smirks. “I bet she doesn’t know he still goes to the Kraut Crock with the Spices. I hear he even gets a little pickled sometimes. I can’t believe she doesn’t smell it on him. Cherry says, “Well, it’s not like she has anywhere to go. Her family disowned her when she married into the Green side of the family. They’d turn her into real slaw if she went near them.”
The girls look around. A couple of the Broccolis come up. “Hi girls,” says Ben, the taller of the two. “How’d you like to get out of this place and have some real fun?” The sisters look at each other, and Cherry asks, “What do you have in mind?” Ben replies, “Well, we thought you might want to watch us work out. You know how healthy we are. Then maybe we could go back to our place and we could show you our muscles.”
The girls giggle and refuse. “Can you believe how full of himself he is? He was such a nice guy before they started writing about his family in those health magazines. I hear the whole bunch of them have turned into snobs.”
Roma says, ”It’s so crowded in this room. Let’s see what else is going on.” She opens a door and gasps as she quickly closes it.
“What? What’d you see?” asks Cherry, alarmed. Roma pulls her down the hall and whispers, “You wouldn’t believe what they’re doing in there!”
“What?” Cherry is getting frustrated.
“The green Peppers are having the red and yellow Pepper girls rub dressing all over their bodies and then licking it off of them. You’d think the Corns wouldn’t allow that type of behavior in their house.”
Cherry suggests they go outside for some fresh air. In the yard, they find the Onions talking to the Leeks. The Leeks seem to be upset about something.
“We know that you just took in those young Green Onions because they didn’t have anywhere to go, but they’re taking over the neighborhood. You can see how quickly they set down roots and spread. Could you talk to them about moving toward suburbs rather than taking more room from us?”
Mrs. Onion sighs. “We have tried to talk to them. They were so sweet when they we younger, but now that they’re older and stronger we can barely get near them. We may end up moving near our children up on the north side.”
They continue to talk as the sisters notice a group of Lettuce watching them and whispering. Cherry looks nervous and says to Roma, “Do they look familiar to you?”
Roma answers, “How would I know? All the Lettuces look the same to me.” As she finishes speaking, the Head Lettuce says, “That’s them. I know it is. They snuck into the party at the Mushrooms, pretending to be veggies. Then they went to all their fruit friends and told stories about us.”
The Lettuce spread out and start moving toward the Tomatoes. The girls see them and run for the gate. The Lettuce is right behind when the gate opens. A Pineapple is standing in the opening, holding a hot vinaigrette.
The lettuce backs off, not wanting to wilt.
The girls run out the gate. The Pineapple glares at them. “Your mother sent me out for you. You’re lucky I got there when I did. You’ll be spending some time in the bed thinking about your behavior when we get back.”