The Childhood Tomato


Morgan Martinez-Gee



Childhood memories stick to us like the glue we used to make posters of cheetahs in elementary school. This article is one of those memories. Not of the posters, but of the trauma. 


For background information, I was an incredibly sensitive kid. I would cry when I was on a plane because I didn’t want to leave my family that I had only seen a handful of times in my life. I cried when two characters in a book I was reading kissed. I was not built for any type of insults that were going to be thrown at me throughout my life.

I was about 7-9 years old when I went to a Renaissance Fair. A renaissance fair was a big fair that was decked out with renaissance-type rides, booths, games, shops, and shows. There were also plenty of workers/actors that would act and talk like people of the time, also decked out in dresses, corsets, and black pants. 

One of these actors was a man with his head and hands sticking out of a wall with a tomato picture where his body would be. The whole idea of this booth was to throw tomatoes at this man while he would yell and insult you. Paired with a sensitive child, there was a recipe for disaster. 

I pulled on my mother’s sleeve, telling her I wanted to do this “game”. My mother warned me that he would make fun of me, but I blatantly ignored her. I walked up to the soon to be grave of my confidence, flower crown with fake purple flowers adorned, and was given my ammunition. The man peered through his tomato-smeared face and saw a small girl standing with a tomato in her hand. The tomato barreled through the air, plummeting to the ground 5 feet in front of me. And then he started yelling.

Now, I don’t remember everything that he said, but I do remember one thing he yelled. “Maybe if you eat more makeup, you’ll be pretty on the inside”. That single phrase made my face go pale and I knew I had to leave. However, I still had 3 more tomatoes to use. So, through my shaky breath and blurry vision. I mustered the strength to grab the next tomato and threw it as hard as I could. The fruit barely touched the board. It felt like a nightmare, so close to hitting, but the agony stopped it. The man behind the booth opened a gate and let me in closer.

Tomato man kept going, and tears threatened to flood my eyes like broken dams, yet I still had two red fruits left in my tiny hands. My brain was overloaded with panic, and throwing the tomato, it barely grazed his feet. I wanted to run, scream, anything but be forced to throw fruits for “sport”. So, in my tiny mind, I just hauled the tomato towards him and ran away, running to my mother’s arms. Tears ran out like geysers and I didn’t look back.


To this day, I still hate tomatoes, and whether this event is related or not is under investigation. Some childhood memories are wonderful, but some are as rotten as tomatoes.