One of my favorite movies ever is “The Jerk” with Steve Martin. I know. Such a sophisticate. Besides loving every moment of happy dopiness in the movie, I think it’s the ideal fact-finding medium. Say you’re talking with someone you just met… or-what the heck-someone you’ve known for years. Try this: ask him if he’s ever seen “The Jerk.” Chances are, instead of answering, he (or she) will simply shout out his (or her) favorite line. “He hates those cans. Stay away from the cans!” If you’re in a room full of people, chances are someone else will chime in with another line: “Dear family, guess what? Today I found out what my special purpose is for. Gosh what a good time I had. I wish the whole family could have been here with me.” Pretty soon someone from across the room will throw in: “I don’t need this stuff. I don’t need anything. And I don’t need you! I don’t need anything. Except this. This ashtray. That’s the only thing I need is this. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game…”
Eventually everyone is happily contributing a line. You learn a little more about each and every one of them, from the line they choose to quote from the movie. Plus, suddenly everyone is cheerful. Really, they are. Try it. Sure there’ll be someone there who’s never seen “The Jerk” or, worse yet, someone who has, but pretends he hasn’t. Careful, he’s gonna want to talk about the works of Ingmar Bergman or perhaps his favorite scene from “An Andalusion Dog” -which he’ll allude to in the French “Un Chien Anadalou.” (Which reminds me…should it not have been a tipoff when the first movie my first husband took me to see was “Children of Paradise?” Okay, off topic. I’m just saying…)
Jayzus. Speaking of off-topic, this post is not about “The Jerk” …it’s about my garden. Little by ever-so-slowly little, the tomatoes are ripening. True, some never got a chance to ripen, because, in their enthusiasm, Laura and my father would pluck an orange little beauty from its vine and present it to me with a suspiciously high level of joy. I would complain they’re not ripe and should be left on the vine until ripe. My father would insist a few days in a sunny windowsill is all it needs to ripen up. Umm…that’s the point of growing your own, Daddy. You can pluck it ripe, off the vine, and eat it at its peak. That’s when my father walks away shaking his head, mumbling in half English, half Spanish.
Finally, this week, I got to eat ripe tomatoes. Perfectly red, plump, sweet, tiny ripe tomatoes. Tomatoes that I grew with my own little hands. Okay, full disclosure: my own little hands and my dad’s hands. He’s been helping keep the garden watered since my leg broke. Oh, and Suzie’s little hands. She’s helped me too. Let me say that again. Perfectly red, plump, sweet, tiny, ripe tomatoes that Daddy and Sue and I grew with our own little hands. And yesterday I made brown rice and ground turkey with red peppers, onions, and–from my garden–crookneck squash and fresh herbs: thyme, basil and parsley. From my garden. That Sue and Daddy and I grew with our own six hands (two small, and four normal).
I think I’m gonna start calling it The Farm. Garden sounds so… amateur.
Right about now, I bet you’re telling yourself “I know we’ve only known each other for four weeks and three days. But to me it seems like nine weeks and five days. The first day seemed like a week. And the second day seemed like five days. And the third day seemed like a week again. And the fourth day seemed like eight days. But the fifth day you went to see your mother, and that seemed like just a day. But then you came back…”