They found a new fossil critter, size of a dog, they say, a saber-toothed vegetarian dinosaur. They know it’s a vegetarian because it has good vegetable-grinding teeth in the upper jaw, and although they did not find the lower jaw, they expect it matched up. Otherwise, evolutionarily speaking, it wouldn’t make any sense at all. It would be like having the top teeth trying to prevent abortions while the bottom teeth cut off funding for the biggest provider of birth control. Totally nutty. The saber teeth are unusual in a plant-eater but not unknown; there are saber-toothed musk deer out there to this day, although they just look confused, like a stringy, wan kid with a death tattoo. This new fossil has really big saber teeth, so the theory is that they used them to fend off rival saber-toothed vegetarians. Or they grew them to impress the ladies. To my mind, this ignores the facts. The facts being that vegetables are wily and treacherous and any animal that can go in for the quick kill is money ahead.
Vegetables are sneaky. Many of them lurk underground. Some are openly cruciferous. Asparagus spears stand erect like a field of punji sticks. We’re always on our guard here. I try to stay away from the vegetables as much as possible until they are well and truly subdued, and that’s why I married a big strong man, so he can not only bring home the goods but dispatch them before they can do any harm. He stabs the potatoes before they go in the oven. He cuts little crosses in the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts, which not only softens them up but protects us from their vampire ways. Squashes are disemboweled and their guts strewn on the compost pile as a warning to others. Corn is sheared off, like everything else that grows on ears.
It’s a dangerous world out there, a world where you can, with all diligence, tie a tiny tomato plant to a stake in the spring; and then you turn your back on it and suddenly it’s a rampaging gang of a vine, sending out platoons right and left and threatening the landscape. They’re a menace, tomatoes. Last year we did not let our guard down and kept things under control, harvesting our first tomato in mid-October and our second just before Thanksgiving. It wasn’t easy. First we had to gin up the whole industrial revolution, suck out all the coal and oil and burn it all up, and rassle our entire climate to its knees. It took everything we had in the way of resources, ingenuity, short-sightedness and greed. We might have been better off going with the saber teeth.