Tag: tomato

Pardon My Poupon

With a jackhammer like motion, Bob ran a large knife from one end of a cutting board to the other.  Tiny brown and yellow pebbles bounced in all directions.

“There, see?” Bob said.

“You’re not so much cutting as crunching,” Woodruff replied.

“They are cut.”

“More like smashed.”

“Well this is impossible.”

“I told you so.”

Bob laid the knife on top of the sea of little seeds and threw up his hands.

“If you can’t cut the mustard, then how does anything actual cut the mustard?”

“Because it’s just an expression, Bob.”

“Expressions come from somewhere though,” Bob said.  “There has to be a way.”

“Well, we’ve tried yellow mustard, mustard paste, mustard plants, and now mustard seeds.”

“I still say I cut that mustard plant.”

“Right, but how is that different from cutting a stalk of broccoli?” Woodruff said.  “The expression is ‘doesn’t cut the mustard’.  There’s got to be something that sets mustard apart.”

“What about poupon?”

“What about it?”

“Grey Poupon is a mustard, we could cut that.”

“How’s Grey Poupon different than yellow mustard?”

“It’s classier.”

Woodruff shook his head and looked on his friend with derision and disbelief.

“How did we even start down this path?”

“We were discussing who would win in a fight between a Griffin and a Liger,” Bob said.  “While the answer is clearly a Griffin, you said that a Griffin is mythical while a Liger is real and therefore the Liger would win by default.”

“Which is true.”

“I said that a Buzzfeed poll had the Griffin winning fifty-three percent to forty-seven.  You said that in terms of social science a qualitative poll doesn’t cut the mustard due to sampling bias.”

“Oh right,” Woodruff said.  “Well it doesn’t.”

“So then, smart guy, how does one cut the mustard?”

“IT’S AN EXPRESSION!” Woodruff threw his hands in the air, as if he were signaling a successful field goal.

“Fine,” Bob said.  “No need to get upset.  Let’s just go.”

Woodruff and Bob left the cutting board in the back room and headed for the lobby.

“Thanks again, Hank.” Bob saluted the security guard seated behind the desk.

“Any time Bobby,” Hank replied and returned the salute.

“Tell Barb we said hello,” Woodruff added.

“Will do.  Give my best to Kenny.”

“You got it.”

Bob stepped into the triangular opening and gave the revolving door a push.  He stopped suddenly just as Woodruff’s compartment was enclosed by the wall.

“What if we freeze it?” Bob asked through the glass partition.

“What?” Woodruff said pushing against the stopped door.  “Move!”

Bob turned and pushed the door forward at a run.  The rate of speed for the door made it difficult for Woodruff to escape the roulette death trap and he was forced to keep pace with the circulating doorway.

“We could freeze the mustard and then cut it,” Bob said as he ran against the glass door as fast as he could.

“Okay, fine,” Woodruff said, struggling to keep up.  “That will work.  Can we stop this thing?  I wanna get off.”

The revolutions of the door slowed to a stop as Bob and Woodruff tumbled outside.  Woodruff fell on his back, looking up at the National Mustard Museum sign above the revolving door.  Bob stagger forward and took a seat on the top step, next to the fallen Woodruff.

“We can cut the mustard,” Bob said with a smile.

Woodruff closed his eyes and waited for his world to stop spinning.

“Why are you the way you are?”

“My mom says it’s because I was born under a blue moon.”

A red and yellow wienermobile drove up to the museum and parked in front of the steps.  Woodruff sat up and looked down at the hotdog-shaped vehicle.

“You hungry?”

“I could eat.”



They descended the steps and walked up to the side window of the oversize hotdog van.

“Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?”

The pimply faced young man in the van cocked his head sideways and stared back at Bob with his mouth agape.

“Ignore him,” Woodruff said.  “We’d like two hotdogs.”

“Did you really not get that reference?” Bob asked the young man with the hotdog-shaped hat.

“Uh, what reference?”

“Grey Poupon,” Bob said.  “You know, the commercial?”

“Um, the only thing I poop on is a toilet and that’s white.”

“Not poop on, poupon.”

“Really, just ignore him,” Woodruff said.  “It’s better for everyone.”

“Grey Poupon Dijon.”

“Who’s Deshawn?”

“Not who, what,” Bob said.  “It’s mustard.”

“Oh, um, yeah, we’ve got that,” the young man pulled out a bright yellow bottle with red letters.

“That’s yellow mustard.  Dijon is a spicy mustard.”

“This is all we’ve got.”

“He doesn’t even want spicy mustard.  He just likes to make obscure references.”

“How do you know I don’t want spicy mustard?”

“Well, do you?”

“No,” Bob answered timidly.  “But you didn’t know that.”

“Two hot dogs, please,” Woodruff said to the young man.  “Ketchup and mustard.”

“No ketchup for me.”

“You don’t want ketchup.”

“I don’t eat ketchup.”

“I’ve seen you eat ketchup.”

“I don’t eat ketchup anymore.”

“Since when?”

“Since I watched that documentary on the tomato industry, Our Big Red Shame,” Bob said.  “The way they tried those poor tomatoes is inhumane.”



“To a tomato?”

“You’re one of those heartless tomato eaters aren’t you?”

“So are you!”

“Not anymore.”

“You are telling me that you object to ketchup on the moral ground that tomatoes are treating inhumanely?”

“If it’s bruised or mooshy it just gets tossed aside like garbage.”

“If it’s ripe, it gets eaten.”

“I knew it!  Tomato eater!” Bob pointed an accusing finger at Woodruff.

“So you won’t eat a tomato in any form?”


“What about spaghetti?”

“I take my pasta with alfredo sauce.”


“Pesto is better.”

“You’re insane.”

“You can eat what you like, I’ll have my hotdog without cruelty sauce.”

The pimply faced young man handed over two hotdogs, one with ketchup and one without.  Woodruff licked at the ketchup on top of his hotdog and took a deliberating large bite while staring directly at Bob.


“How can you live with yourself?”

“Do you have any extra ketchup packets back there?” Woodruff asked the young man in the wienervan.

He handed over a couple of ketchup packets and Woodruff tore them open with his teeth.  Ketchup oozed out onto his chin and dripped onto his shirt.

“You’re an animal.”

“Do I have tomato blood on my face?”

“I’ve lost my appetite.”

Bob dropped his hotdog on the pavement and walked away.

“Where are you going?” Woodruff called.  “What’s to-ma-toe with you?”

Woodruff wiped the ketchup from his chin with a mischievous grin.  He licked his fingers and devoured the remains of his hotdog.  As the Wienermobile pulled away Woodruff bent down over Bob’s hotdog.  He glanced to either side and, when he was sure no one was looking, scooped up the discarded dog and brushed some dirt off the end.  Woodruff took a bite and jogged after Bob with a ketchupless hotdog in hand.

Time To Make The Violets

“Bob,” Woodruff said.

With focus and determination, Bob kept his eyes down on an array of colors that passed from right to left.  The hum of motors and mechanisms churned all around them.


Bob’s hands moved rapidly back and forth with tiny machine-like motions.


A loud whistle blew and the assembly line stopped moving.

“Break time!” a burly man with a five-o’clock shadow shouted from a small glass office.

Bob immediately halted and joined a line of workers heading for the break room.  Woodruff grabbed him by the arm and pulled Bob out of line.

“Did you not hear me?” Woodruff asked.  “I was calling your name.”

“Sorry, Woodruff,” Bob said.  “I was really in the zone back there.”

“No kidding,” Woodruff said.  “You’ve been going nonstop all shift.”

“Those crayons aren’t going to wrap themselves,” Bob said.

“About that…,” Woodruff began.  “How long are we going to do this?”

“You said you wanted to learn how to make crayons.”

“I said I wondered how crayons were made.”

“Tomato, Clamato.”


“Tomato, Clamato,” Bob replied.  “It’s an expression.”

“It’s really not,” Woodruff said.

“Look,” Bob said.  “Want or wonder, you now know how crayons are made.  Hashtag winning.”

Bob tapped his index and middle fingers against his other index and middle fingers.  He filed in the back of the line of workers and walked into the break room.  Woodruff strode beside him rubbing his forehead.

“Okay, but it’s been a week,” Woodruff said.

“Yeah, I know,” Bob said gleefully.  “It’s pay day!”

Bob drilled his index fingers into Woodruff’s ribs and playfully poked him in rapid succession.  Woodruff swatted Bob’s hands away.

“Stop it, Nitwit,” Woodruff objected.

“Why are you so upset?” Bob asked.  “This is the best job.”

“There!” Woodruff shouted.  “That’s why.  I asked an offhand question and now I’m a Quality Control Specialist at a crayon factory.”

“With hard work, and a little luck, you could be a Quality Control Supervisor in a couple years.”

“I’m not going to be a Quality Control Supervisor.”

“Well not with that attitude.”

Woodruff folded his arms and imagined rolling Bob up in a giant brown crayon wrapper.  His fantasy ended in tragedy as Crayon Bob melted all over the passenger seat of his Karmann Ghia.

“I should have cracked a window,” Woodruff sighed.

“What?” Bob asked.

“Nothing,” Woodruff said.  “Can we just go before it gets too hot?”

“But it’s Fred’s birthday and Janet has organized a surprise party after work,” Bob protested.

“Really?” Fred asked excitedly.  The bearded assembly line worker sat at a round table in the break room next to a skinny man in a hairnet and a scowling brunette lady who looked like Miss Gulch.

“Sorry Janet,” Bob apologized sheepishly to the scowling lady.

“Bob, is this how you want to spend your life?” Woodruff asked.

“Crayons are life,” Bob said and pointed to a colorful poster on the breakroom wall with the white inscription.

“That’s Crayola propaganda,” Woodruff said.

“Bob has a gift,” Fred said.

“A gift for ruining surprises,” Janet muttered.

“Get over it already, Janet,” Bob said.  “It’s ancient history.”

“I’ve never seen anybody work as fast and flawless as Bob,” Fred said.  “And I’ve been on the line for 37 years.”

“How old are you?” Woodruff gasped.

“Get a load of this,” Fred said.  He walked over to the kitchenette at the far end of the breakroom and picked up a stack of color swatches from the counter.  Fred held the swatches behind his back and moved to stand directly in front of Bob, like two gunfighters at the OK Corral.  Bob crouched down slightly and squinted his eyes.

“Ready?” Fred asked.

“I was born in a suitable state for an activity, action, or situation,” Bob replied.

One by one Fred began to flash swatch after swatch in front of Bob and quickly discard it on the breakroom floor.

“Blue-violet, Violet, Medium Violet, Royal Purple, Wisteria, Lavender, Vivid Purple, Maximum Purple, Purple Mountain’s Majesty, Fuchsia, Pink Flamingo, Brilliant Rose, Orchid, Plum, Medium Rose, Thistle, Mulberry, Red-Violet, Middle Purple, Magenta, Maximum Red Purple, Wild Strawberry, Cotton Candy, Pink Carnation, Violet-Red!” Bob breathlessly shouted as the last swatch fell to the floor.

The tiny breakroom erupted in applause as Bob doubled over from exhaustion.  Fred turned to Woodruff and threw both hands in the air.  “That’s the entire purple spectrum.”

“Okay, that was scary impressive,” Woodruff said.

“He can’t leave,” Fred said.  “He was born for this.”

Woodruff hung his head.  Bob was still panting for breath, with his hands on his knees.  Woodruff looked around the room at the crayon cult and grimaced.

“I can see that,” Woodruff said.

Bob stood up straight and looked at Woodruff with a big grin.

“I won’t stand in your way,” Woodruff said.  “But I can’t stay.”

“Did you mean to rhyme?” Bob asked.  “And is this because they wouldn’t let you play Silvia on the assembly floor?”

“No,” Woodruff said.  “And you leave Silvia out of this.”

“Don’t go,” Bob said.

“I have to,” Woodruff replied.  “They don’t have a Penny-farthing and you can’t get a decent pineapple falafel for miles.  I’ll never complete my list here.”

“I can’t change your mind?” Bob asked.

“I’m afraid not,” Woodruff said.

“So this is it,” Bob said glumly.

“I guess so,” Woodruff added with a frown.

“It was a heck of a run,” Bob said.

“It sure was,” Woodruff agreed.  He stuck his hand out toward Bob, who batted it to the side and embraced him in a big bear hug.  Woodruff reached up and put an arm around Bob while patting him on the back of his head with his free hand.  Janet grabbed a napkin from the center of the table and dabbed at the tears in her eyes.  Fred sniffled and wiped at his nose.  When the embrace was over, the two friends stepped back away from each other.  Woodruff forced a smile.

“Okay,” Woodruff said.

“Okay,” Bob replied.

Without another word, Woodruff turned and exited the breakroom.  The whistle blew and the factory burst to life as the machines began to chug and churn again.  Woodruff wiped a tear from his eye as he pushed open the heavy metal door under the exit sign.

As he walked across the factory parking lot, a parade of images danced through his mind.  He saw Bob flying through the air over a great white shark on a pair of water skis, then they were dancing with a herd of sloths to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, followed by the time they accidently broke Da Vinci’s prototype time machine in Milan.  Woodruff chuckled when he remembered the look on Da Vinci’s face when the inventor realized he was trapped in the 21st century.

“Priceless,” Woodruff grinned.

Woodruff pulled open the door to his cherry-red Karmann Ghia and slid into the driver’s seat.  When he turned on the car the voice of Celine Dion blared through the radio signing “All By Myself”.  Woodruff put his head on the steering wheel and sighed deeply.

Just then the passenger side door opened and Bob hopped in the car.

“Where to now?” Bob asked.

“What are you doing here?” a startled Woodruff asked.

“We just quit the crayon game.”

“I thought you were staying.”

“You said I couldn’t change your mind.”

“Well what was all that ‘heck of a run’ stuff?”

“A heck of a run at the crayon factory.”

“Then why did you hug me?”

“It felt like a hugging moment.”

“But you were born for the crayon business,” Woodruff said.  “You’re just going to give it up?”

“We’ve got your list to finish,” Bob said.  “Besides, I don’t want to stay in the crayon game too long and end up like Fred.  That guy can’t tell Goldenrod from Dandelion.  It’s embarrassing.”

“And Janet’s surprise birthday cake?”

“I’m pretty sure it was sodium-free.”


“Sodium’s the new gluten.”

“And pay day?”

“Bazinga,” Bob said as he flashed two envelopes.  “And Dennis said I was welcome back any time.”

“At least we have that as a fall back,” Woodruff said.

“Uh, Dennis said I was welcome back any time,” Bob clarified.

“Ouch,” Woodruff said as he put the car in gear and backed out of the parking spot.

“Maybe if you had taken that Hot Wax Safety Seminar more seriously…” Bob said.

“If finding rainbow colored burns amusing is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right,” Woodruff said.

“So what’s next?” Bob said.

“Well, we’re a half days’ drive from the Canadian border,” Woodruff said.  “You still have that bear bell?”

Bob produced a large brass bell from the backseat and rang it back and forth.  Woodruff grinned as he shifted into drive and burned rubbed out of the parking lot.