Laura on Life

Yes, it's ketchup!

By Laura Snyder

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[July 06, 2011]  Dear Reader: This column is an excerpt from my book "Laura on Life: Corn Dogs and Dust Bunnies."


"Well," I thought to myself, "it's your own fault that you are driving back to the grocery store after just spending an hour and a half shopping."

I've spent the equivalent of the national debt in groceries, but I forgot the most important thing. There's no sense in even showing up at the house without this item. I remembered cookies and cat food. I remembered shaving cream. I remembered poster board for a school project. (Yes, I know that's not really considered groceries, but sometimes a girl's got to multitask.) I remembered everything a family of seven would need for two weeks, except the most important thing: ketchup -- a plastic squeeze bottle of ketchup.

I can't buy the glass-bottled type anymore because my family is not patient. If I buy the glass bottles, I can be assured that a brawl will occur at the dinner table because as someone is beating the tar out of the bottom of the bottle, trying to extract a small amount of ketchup, a great glob of it will eventually come flying out of the bottle into the plate of the person next to them. However, this usually is only a problem if the ketchup lands on food. No child at my house can eat food that has ketchup on it unless it's been gently dipped with painstaking precision into the ketchup by the "dippee." Blatantly dumping ketchup onto someone's else's "clean" food is clearly a serious transgression.

Anyway, if I don't bring home ketchup, I will have no end of problems. My son won't be able to eat a hot dog. My daughter can't eat tater tots. My 4-year-old won't be able to eat anything, because he thinks that ketchup is a throat lubricant and you have to have it in order to eat real food (especially vegetables). Without ketchup, they'll all starve!

I knew my family would have this kind of relationship with ketchup the day that my teenage son, who was maybe 6 at the time (I don't really know the correct age, but he couldn't read the word "ketchup" yet) decided to continually interrupt a conversation I was having with my husband.

"She said he was having an affair ..."

"Mom, is this ketchup?"

[to top of second column]

"... but he said that she was an old friend from ..."

"Mom, is this ketchup?"

"... somewhere -- I don't remember -- but ..."

"Mom, is this ketchup!?"

"... anyway, she didn't believe a word the lying ..."

"MOM! ..."

"Annoyed" would be a very mild word for what I was feeling at that time. I took the plastic jumbo bottle he was holding, slammed it on the table at mach speed and yelled like a lunatic, "YES, IT'S KETCHUP!!!!" as the contents of the brand-new jumbo bottle came spewing out the top like Mount Vesuvius. I hadn't noticed that he had taken the top off ... so sue me.

My son looked at me in shock, and I looked back just as a gob of ketchup ran down my nose and dripped into my lap. My husband, also covered with his fair share of the red tomatoey goop, wasn't sure if I was still mad, so he was trying to hold back a hiccup of uncontrollable laughter. It finally came out as a sort of closed-mouthed snort-spit, which sent more ketchup flying into my face. That was all it took. Rampant hilarity ensued.

After that event, ketchup was always at the table (my son has since learned how to spell it) and my mindless temper tantrum is always associated with the ketchup. It's almost as if they think I need to be reminded of "the time that mom lost her cool" so that it won't happen again. Of course it still does. I am the same person, after all. But at least they know better than to put a bottle of ketchup or some other highly volatile liquid in my hands when they are annoying me.


Laura Snyder may be reached at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com or check her website, www.lauraonlife.com, for more columns and info on her books.



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