Beaver Cleaver Didn’t Eat His Tomato

When my kids were young we caught a few episodes of the vintage sitcom, Leave It To Beaver — a mid-century whitewashed idealization of American family life. During one episode June Cleaver, examining the contents of Beaver’s lunchbox at the end of a school day, lamented, “Beaver, you didn’t eat your tomato,” whereby she held up one whole — as in, fully intact — tomato. This was an, Ah Beaver-boys will be boys moment. There was no laugh track. (I know because I waited for it.) Apparently, in 1958 — like today — it was normal for children to reject vegetables and normal for mothers (I do recognize fathers as caregivers) to be dismayed and disturbed by the fact.

And it was also normal (or not outlandish) to expect that a child should sit among their peers and quietly, without notice, bite into a whole — yes, fully intact — tomato.

Not only would my children not have sunk their gappy little teeth into a tomato, but they would have been mortified to have been discovered with one on their person. — And as it turns out all intact produce is suspect.

Me to 13 yr old son: “Oh gawd we have so many apples and you guys aren’t eating them — can you take some to school?” Son responds with incredulity and…truth be told, some measure of hostility. Perhaps you're thinking, "He’s a 13-year-old boy….” True. BUT he is ordinarily good natured and respectful. So apparently this mention of sharing intact fruit was just inherently off pissing. Needless to say, no sharing would take place. The red apple icon signifying “school” will have to morph into a Tupperware container — faint slashes of red barely visible.

My teenage daughter says, “Sliced fruit is easier to eat…this has nothing to do with ‘a world gone mad,’ Mom,” but sliced fruit was ‘easier to eat’ in 1972 as well, yet we routinely toughed it out, pushing through peel and pith — but forgodsakes it’s not like we were sweating! My informal research reveals that the average American 5th grader today has never peeled an orange. Check it out. Ask a kid. It’s astonishing — unless, perhaps, you are young enough to not be surprised.

(Note: Peeled oranges taste/feel so much better. And I’m not even kidding.)

Here I could write about the entire gestalt of wholeness and nourishment, nostalgia for days gone by — including and especially the ones I never lived — and how I’m tired of worrying about the polar bears and how for now I need to be still, nourish my spirit and find the wholeness that abides in my heart (and also how June Cleaver was sweet to care — she was) but you know what? I’m tired of thinking about caring about slimy, whittled carrots and too tired and sad to talk about polar bears. And also I’m bored with myself and everything else too (which is, in part, due to the problem we have with light here in Portland, mid December) so I’m just going to leave it here. Below.

In summation, if you want to really stick it to The Man lob a heavy piece of fruit to your kid as they head for the door.

You radical you.

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