We entered the red, squishy battleground of the Texas Tomato Battle in Dallas, TX this weekend. What we saw will stay with us forever (just like the tomato juice in our hair).
By Danny Gallagher
I stand before the field of battle in the brightest clothes I could find. My full body Spandex suit was at the cleaners, which should have at least earned me a courtesy discount for not wearing it in public with my generous frame. Also, I’m clearly not looking forward to being covered in tomato gook on the first cool summer day Texas has had since the Battle of the Alamo.
The crowd starts to pour in and the smell of tomatoes roasting on the blacktop hits our noses. I haven’t experienced such a conflicting level of excitement and disgust since my last bachelor party.
People get in some practice shots by bringing their own tomatoes and hitting them with their friends before they opened the gates. It sounds dumb and childish but then again, these people paid to throw tomatoes at each other.
One of the early tomato throwers has his arsenal stolen when he’s not looking and gets hit with his own secret stash. He refuses to be photographed.
The costume showcase starts. This picture shows the true winner: America.
“The Rotten Tomatoes” win my personal pick for “Best in Show.” I don’t know if the dumbass behind them was in costume or just showed up in his work clothes from the 80s dance club where he works, but his photobombing immediately wins my award for “Douchiest in Show”.
A woman dressed as “Bloody Mary” revs up the crowd. I pray she’s named that because she’s called Mary and not the other way around.
A crowd starts to form around the battle gates and it’s clear they’re anxious to get started. It’s like being in the crowd scene in “Spartacus” when the gladiators take down the giant gate to their training facility, except the crowd is considerably more bloodthirsty.
The gates open and produce hell is unleashed. Giant, wet tomatoes slap into me. It feels like I’m being punched all over by a freshly washed baby (trust me…and don’t ask any further questions).
The poor woman right in front of me takes a whole tomato to the head. I’m immediately convinced this awesome, once-in a lifetime shot will win me the Pulitzer some day.
I realize my camera lens is starting to collect a thin layer of dried V-8 juice. Saliva, as usual, does nothing but exacerbate the problem.
A very nice person tries to clean off my lens for me and instead just spreads the juice around. I never thought I would ever describe a personal experience that way about another man.
My sunglasses fall off and a big chunk of tomato husk falls right in my eye.
With my guard temporarily down, a whole tomato lands right in my, well, tomatoes. Fortunately, the face I’m already making from my eye pain adequately expresses this new, also terrible pain.
Some guy in a G-string starts yelling “TV is here!” I turn around see a camera and a boom mic, thinking it’s a local news crew. It turns out to be the crew from the relationship-gone-wrong reality show “Cheaters,” who tracked some good-for-nothing boyfriend and his hot mistress to the “Tomato Battle”. The crowd pelts the crew, the cheating couple and the host with tomatoes. Really, this is the reaction everyone should have when they see the “Cheaters” crew in person, whether they’re in a “Tomato Battle” or not.
The battle is winding down. The pile of whole tomatoes is reduced to a big red slushie that people are just throwing on each other. I seize the opportunity to jump in the drink line and grab a beer and some ice. The beer is to help cope with the heat. The ice is to cool down the still throbbing pain in my “tomatoes.”
Apparently, these two ladies went into the battle with white tops.
A very fit competitor poses to a gaggle of hoots and hollers on top of a garbage can, sporting a tattoo that may or may not have originally been the name of an ex-boyfriend named “BRAD."
Perhaps the nicest moment of the day was watching one of the security guards clean off some of the participants’ glasses with a rag from his back pocket. I offered to buy him a beer for being so nice but he declined. It’s the only time I wished security guards at outdoor concerts were allowed to drink on the job.
Can you spot the difference between this and my “before” shot, besides the fact that I’m a giant cherry red tomato (in both shape and color) with legs? I’ve also got a huge grin on my face. It’s because I realize this is the only time I’ll ever get to talk to attractive females in tube tops covered in tomato sauce without having to pay them. Which is why I’ve already bought my tickets for next year.