Friday, September 25, 2009

The tragedy of the Nipsey Russell

As mentioned previously, the Indiana State Fair had as its theme the “Year of the Tomato” – and naturally, this made the fair the equivalent of Mecca for me. You see, I’m not sure how many of you know this, but being that I’m multi-talented, I’m known far and wide as not only Tasha the TriathlonGoddess, but also Tasha the TomatoVixen. I think there are other nicknames too, but we won’t get into that now.

Suffice it to say, I was in my element. Checking out the tomatoes that were planted all over the place, critiquing the entries for the Canstruction contest, scoffing at the tomatoes entered for judging.

At the same time, I had told Stan about the tomato-tasting contest I was planning to enter at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba later that week. Mickey found out about the contest last year, and was so irate at the fact that the girl who won brought a farmers’ market tomato (!), that she convinced the rest of us Tomatoettes to enter this year. Sadly, my own tomatoes were a bit lackluster, but I was hoping to enter something in the “Celebrity Look-alike” category. But what to enter? Decisions, decisions. I told Stan to be on the lookout for a likely prospect, as my opinion was that the best-tasting and biggest tomatoes for the contest should come from one’s own garden, but the other categories were a free-for-all.

So there we were, strolling the grounds, when we came upon the section where they were actually growing stuff, in a hothouse and outside. This is what’s so great about the Indiana state fair – unlike at Wisconsin’s, where basically all you get are a lot of opportunities to buy a ShamWow, here they have actual crafts, a settlers’ village, old farm equipment, etc. I’m looking at the tomato plants inside the hothouse, mentally comparing them to my own specimens at home, when suddenly I hear Stan’s voice yelling to me from outside, rather urgently, where he’s looking at the rows of plants.

Stan, pointing at something within the plants: Tasha, come quick! NOW! You have to see this!
Me, walking over: What’s u.....oh my god. Oh. My. God. that what I think it is?
Stan, awed: You see it too then.
Me: Well, it’s obvious! I mean hello, what am I, blind?

We both gaze in silence and wonder at what we see before us, nestled carefully within the jungle of tomato plants. It must have gone unnoticed so long due to the leaf cover – what other explanation could there be? Yes folks, it’s a tomato that looks exactly – EXACTLY – like Nipsey Russell. It’s startling, in fact, the resemblance. Who would have thought?

Me: I should take it with me, for the Celebrity tomato contest. I mean, there are billions of tomatoes out here – they won’t miss one.
Stan, solemnly: I think you have to. It would be a shame to come across something like this and not share it with the world.
Me: So true.

So I carefully pick the Nipsey Russell and coddle him through the ensuing monsoons until we go back to the car and the hotel, where he’s gently placed on top of the mini-frig. Then, as we’re watching Letterman, the next miracle occurs. You see, Letterman is doing clips of past guests or stars or something, I’m not sure – I just know that the next thing you know, he’s showing a clip of Nipsey Russell! Yes, I swear this is true. It seemed a true sign from the heavens that this was all meant to be.

The next day, the electronic devices get shunted aside so that Nipsey can travel safely and securely in the car – no sense taking foolish chances at this point. And with the contest looming ahead for that Saturday, I get feverishly to work coming up with a poem that will showcase Nipsey to his advantage – since we all know that Nipsey was known for not just game show appearances but also fine poetry:

The opposite of 'pro' is 'con'
This fact is clearly seen
But if 'progress' means move forward
What does 'Congress' mean?

And so on. I show up at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba that Saturday, Nipsey carefully transported, hopes high among his fans. I check out the competition in the Celebrity category – puh, nothing to speak of. One woman has thrown what looks like a Brillo pad on a tomato and is calling it Julia Child. Please. Could we be any more unoriginal? The bitch who won last year with her farmers’ market tomatoes is back, but luckily she doesn’t win for tastiest, though she does win for biggest. Then, the celebrity judging. I sit with anticipation, waiting to hear my name called. We start a chant: “Nipsey, Nipsey....”

But....what’s this? JULIA CHILD wins??? Oh, the humanity! Apparently arts and crafts are more highly valued than is the idea of true celebrity look-alike-edness. Plus I think the judge had to go with the easy choice rather than the more complex one –such is the nature of such things. Thus thwarted, Nipsey and I leave, with me already thinking about what to enter next year. Not sure yet, but I’m pretty sure a diorama will be involved. Oh yes.

The excellent codicil to all this is that the week after the contest, one of the judges was talking about it on his talk show – Lou Manfredini and his show on WGN radio. And Stan is listening to this as he’s driving, when suddenly he hears Lou mention.......not the best-tasting tomato, or the biggest, or the ugliest, no....but rather the Nipsey Russell! He calls me to tell me this immediately, and I’m now happy, basking in the glory of Nipsey getting the recognition he deserves, albeit a week later, thus lessening the tragedy of his not winning the actual contest. Next year though....

1 comment:

t-odd said...

You were fricking robbed! Robbed I say! It's all Chicago politics - graft and bribery. I demand a recount - and all that other stuff.

I miss Nipsey Russell. He was one of the best - the best game show celebrities of the seventies and early eighties.