I know I’ve been acting strangely and that you might be worried, but there’s no reason to be alarmed. This happens every year—the heat of August sets in and like a bear waking from hibernation, my ravenous appetite for tomatoes reemerges. It’s all I can talk about, all I can think about, all I can eat.

And don’t get me started on the color. I mean look at that red!

If you had asked me three months ago if I cared about tomatoes, I would have firmly answered that I don’t care one bit for those nasty reds, that they mean less than nothing to me. I would have dismissed them as just another veggie, another part of the healthy diet that I begrudgingly adhere to. I may have dismissively called them “tomat-nos.”

But now that tomatoes are ripe and in season? Well, let’s just say, I’m shouting “tomat-oh yeah!”

In late summer, I eat only tomatoes. I slice them on bread, or toss them with pasta under a bit of olive oil, or snack on them quartered with a pinch of salt. I don’t hide them in salads, like they're shameful, or mash them up into sauces or soups, like a coward. Anything that gets between me and the tomat’ is a distraction.

Does it take a toll on my health? Yes. My doctor considers me malnourished and I cannot, in a technical sense, pee. But thankfully tomato season is only a month or two so there’s plenty of time for my GI tract to recover and my face to lose its sickly red flush.

In grocery stores, I’m no longer calm and calculated; I’m a fiend. I barrel past shoppers, straight to the produce aisle so I can caress my beloved fruits—tomatoes are fruit, a fact I now insist on sharing—lewdly moaning and filling my arms with these gorgeous, vine-ripened beauties.

Bizarre behavior, I know. But this is me during tomato season.

Most of the year I eat normally, just like the mild-mannered CPA, dad, and pick-up basketball player that I am. But once the tomatoes ripen on the vine of solanum lycopersicum, I lose myself. Sit me in front of some late-summer San Marzanos, or juicy Beefsteaks, or succulent Cherries, and I’ll shake my head incredulously like I’ve seen proof of the divine. I’ll laugh like a man who has finally understood the cosmic joke of it all. I’ll weep like I’ve been reunited with my child who fell down a well—which did happen and wasn't nearly as satisfying as a ripe tomato.

During T.S., the hunt for ‘toes consumes a third or more of my day. I’m up near dawn, mapping all the tomato sellers in a 25-mile radius, along with their estimated restock times so I can get my pick of the freshest specimens.

I buy more than I can eat, more than my fridge can hold, but have you seen these divine nightshades? So ripe! Not too waxy! Soft but with a firm mouth feel!

Unfortunately, other parts of my life suffer during Tom’ Time. My family knows that come mid-July, my mind can only focus on these deep-red yummies. I try to anticipate in the early summer, making sure I’m seeing friends, spending the weekends with my kids, and scheduling date nights. Because when toma’ seas’ rolls around, my only communication will be texting pictures of tomatoes, or leaving long, stream-of-consciousness voice mails describing my latest haul, or asking for help with my kids while I drive to a Publix 90 minutes away based on a rumor about a batch of nearly-ripe Romas.

It’s extreme but what else am I supposed to do? Buy tomatoes next month? When they’re out of season and so dry and mealy that I wouldn’t even feed them to my dog?

I’m sorry for what I’ve turned into. Soon I’ll be out of this fugue state, but for now, I need a little patience and a little room in your fridge to store these two totes filled with gorgeous pear tomatoes. Please, look at them, they're so ripe, they might go bad.

I mean look at this color!


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