This I Believe

Peter - Webster, New York
Entered on March 1, 2007

I believe in the power of tomato soup.

There’s nothing smellier than half putrid, middle school quality tomato soup. It’s even worse when it’s stuck to a nice cotton shirt and dripping from your hair. Thinking back, it was a pretty mean thing to do, throwing that soup at someone. Even though the color was the only thing it has in common to tomatoes, it was still edible, and what a waste it was of bad soup. I still don’t regret throwing the soup, even if it may have been cruel misuse of food; as it brought me face to face with my own problems.

There are big roadblocks in life, large imposing edifices that prevent a person from achieving happiness. For me, life was smooth sailing, or rather smooth driving, to keep with the road metaphor. Living in a nice little community on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas, I was pretty satisfied with life. The sun always shined, the pool was open year-round, the locals were welcoming and there were enough dirt patches to satisfy any child’s sense of imagination. Sadly, things always had a habit of changing, and my preteen years were definitely lacking in sunshine, both literally and figuratively.

As an indirect consequence of my happy upbringing, I was unprepared for dealing with new people in a new neighborhood. I had no idea how to make friends, and I was awfully naïve. Making friends was a simple matter of sitting in the middle of the sidewalk trying to get people’s attention, which never worked out as planned. Perhaps as a result of my own passiveness, I hit a roadblock in my life, an edifice that blocked my path.

I had a tendency to cling to people, even to people who ended up bullying me. In hindsight it was a pretty poor decision; I got picked on for a lot of minor details: my lack of fashion sense, my poor earlobe hygiene, and my frustrating tendency to forget my own shoes. Unable to build up the bravery to confront them, I built up my own edifice. My troubles, building upon themselves, grew as time passed on, until I could no longer contain my troubles. I don’t remember my motives, but I did just remember the results. My own edifice fell apart under the scalding power of lukewarm tomato soup.

All it took was one toss, and I caught a kid in a shower of red, his clothes ruined. All he could do was stare in shock! In one sweeping motion my edifice had fallen, and after that no one bothered me again, for seemingly any reason. I toyed with the idea that the tomato soup had been blessed or was filled with magic, but in truth it revealed how some of the greatest obstacles were blown away by the smallest of objects. The only thing that had stopped me from throwing the soup earlier was my own inhibition, my own passiveness. The pungent tomato soup had all the power in the world; I just lacked the will to utilize it.