On being indecisive

Do you think a tomato — in all of the history of all tomatoes, ever — has ever said to itself: “I dunno. Maybe I want to be a legume instead.”

Tomatoes don’t reconsider their existence. They don’t wish to be something other than themselves. The biggest existential crisis that tomatoes can have is one that people have imposed upon them. Is a tomato a fruit or is it a vegetable? I suppose that’s probably some heavy shit for a tomato to have to reconcile.

Consider these two tomatoes, talking to each other. This is an actual conversation that I heard at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market:

Tomato 1: Hey bro.
Tomato 2: What’s up?
Tomato 1: Are you a fruit or a vegetable?
Tomato 2: Dude! That is some heavy shit!

See? I bet you didn’t realize this, but it’s true: tomatoes find self-definition to be downright frightening.

But putting that aside, tomatoes are usually just content to be themselves. They grow into whatever shape and size they’re going to grow into. They get picked. They get cleaned and shipped and stored. Then they get murdered. Damn if there aren’t a dozen ways to kill a tomato, too. They’ve got it rough. Slice, stomp, smash, sauté…and eight other words that don’t start with S.

You don’t have to join me, but I’m going to take a moment to pray for the tomatoes. #JusticeforTomatoes

Shh. Still praying.


Now that my conscience is clear, I’ll proceed. You see, tomatoes have it easy. Sure, they get killed from time to time. And sometimes, they get called dirty words, like “heirloom” and “cherry”. I can’t relate to these epithets but I am sure that they are hurtful. But for the most part, the life of a tomato is pretty sweet.

Tomatoes aren’t indecisive. I know this because I worked on a tomato farm for a summer back when I was in high school. I watched them as they grew. There were no tomatoes that tried to switch vines. I never saw a Benjamin Button tomato, shrinking back to a small flower before disappearing altogether. Every tomato on that entire farm just went from being nothing to being a grown-ass tomato. That’s it.

And you know what? They fucking liked it.

Now, it’s not like I gave them all surveys and asked them how they felt about being tomatoes. Contrary to what you might think, a tomato cannot fill out a survey. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t tell that a tomato likes itself.

I mean, look at its color. Red?! Come on. The color red is the international symbol for self confidence.

Tomatoes are brimming with self-assurance. They’re content to hang out with a bunch of their brothers and sisters, sitting in a pile in the Trader Joe’s produce aisle. They could be on a vine, not on a vine, in a plastic container, in a can. It doesn’t matter. Tomatoes are super chill.

Decisiveness. That’s what makes the tomato chill. It never has to worry about its moods or feelings. It never has to think about its future. It knows that there’s a very high likelihood that it’s going to get murdered. The best case scenario is that it becomes a neglected tomato that no one ever picks. Then it can die of old age. I don’t find this to be a satisfying death, but then again, I am not a tomato.

Last week, I drove out to the desert to watch the Perseid meteor shower. I laid on the roof of my car and I got lost in my thoughts. I fell into a sort of transcendent state. I watched as shooting star by shooting star passed through the early morning sky. My vision blurred. Time ceased to exist. It was all very romantic.

When I snapped out of it, there was a tomato sitting next to me.

Me: Hey, what are you doing here?
Tomato: I was going to ask you the same question.

That’s some deep shit right there. There’s many layers to it. I want to say that it’s kind of like an onion but I don’t want to start mixing metaphors here.

Tomatoes don’t want to be legumes. I know this. The tomatoes know this. Even the legumes know this. Tomatoes are happy being who they are. There’s nothing wrong with being who you are. There’s nothing wrong with any of this.

(Well, except the fact that a talking tomato followed me to the desert)

There is no cure for human indecision. And according to some researchers, personal decision making is the leading cause of premature death.

So maybe we can learn from the tomatoes. As of this writing, there are no confirmed cases of a tomato that made a decision that led to its death. This is the reassurance that we need. We should all be glad that there isn’t yet another natural predator waiting to take the innocent lives of our red little friends. We need them as much as they need us.