We were at the check-out of an apple orchard near Charlottesville with our bags of Pink Ladies and Pippins, when I spied the crate filled with apple-shaped ketchup dispensers.
What the heck, we agreed. We’re never going to find the tomato, so we might as well buy one. Buy two, I said, I’ll give one to Mom.
Throughout my childhood a plastic tomato ketchup dispenser was a fixture on our kitchen table. What happened to it is a mystery for the ages; nobody will admit to throwing it away or remembering how it disappeared. But disappear it did and for some reason, I felt the need to have one at this stage of my life. Why is anybody’s guess…some connection with my childhood as exemplified by a kitschy 1960s plastic tomato? Evidently.
But one must have standards with these things and the cheap knock-offs on eBay simply will not do. I want the real McCoy, if possible. And so whenever we would pop into an antiques mall, one of us would head over to the kitchenware booths and give a futile look-see.
We left the mountainside orchard with our ersatz dispensers and headed home on unfamiliar country roads when the sign for an antiques mall just ahead appeared. You can guess what’s coming, right?
Yup, not an hour after officially giving up the years-long quest, there it was – just sitting there smugly next to a stack of pink Depression glass plates. The tomato ketchup dispenser.
Isn’t it always the way?
After composing myself, I headed over to the book stacks where my charmed day continued. Nestled in the dusty shelves I found a treasure; a marvelous and musty P.G. (Plum) Wodehouse anthology published in 1932 with foreword by Ogden Nash. To say I pounced eagerly upon it would be an understatement as no other writer has ever caused me to howl with laughter in the privacy of my living room quite like dear old Plum.
The introduction to Section One (JEEVES) reads as follows:
Presenting once more Jeeves, the one and only gentleman’s gentleman; and Bertie Wooster, his gilded charge; together with several ingenious stratagems employed by Jeeves on those occasions when Aunt was calling to Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps.
I don’t which makes me happier….the tomato or the prospect of many hours looming ahead in the Wonderful World of Wodehouse. I think Door # 2.
Sorry, tomato. Plum wins this one.