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“Pass the ketchup,” she said softly.

Well, does she also want the mustard? Should I pass the mustard, too?

Is this one of those rules of civility where if somebody asks for salt you also always have to pass the pepper to keep those two together on the table, so that when the next person goes searching for salt and/or pepper they will be saved valuable moments scouring and surveying the cluttered table because you, a civil and learned adult, knew what you were doing?

Is mustard even the corollary to ketchup?

Does ketchup have a yin to its yang? If it is mustard what kind of mustard? Yellow mustard has somehow become the standard American mustard, but it is not mustard at all. In actuality, yellow mustard is really a variety of ketchup made with yellow food coloring. It is bland as all get-out, too. The fact that dijon or spicy brown is not our primary mustard is one of the many reasons we are faltering economically.

Perhaps a more important question: should we really still be eating ketchup?

We are adults now. I use words like corollary and just finished listening to an excellent podcast on the Balkans. Maybe eating ketchup is one of the last vestiges of adolescence I have yet to eradicate from my life. A condiment arrested development.

My hair is gone, I shouldn’t be eating ketchup anymore. Come 2020, no more ketchup for me.

Or, do I simply graduate from the everyday variety of ketchup to an organic catsup?

The answer is clearly no, because anybody who says or eats catsup and isn’t C. Montgomery Burns—last seen in the back of a Rolls Royce en route to a private airport and the ever-shrinking Amazon rainforest to oversee the capture rare birds—should be made to stand in the nearest town square or traffic circle/roundabout on the next Sunday and read a letter of apology for being a weirdo.

Maybe it is still acceptable for me to eat ketchup, but only with french fries and only after first applying malt vinegar and Old Bay seasoning. Using ketchup as just a third of a trident of flavor in which the whole is vastly superior than the sum of its parts should be fine.

More importantly, is it safe to keep ketchup out on the table for this long?

We’ve been eating for 15 minutes and she put it on the table like 20 minutes before we sat down. Shouldn’t it be back in the fridge already? Then again, some people always keep ketchup at room temperature in their cabinet. Or cupboard, because evidently some people talk like they were literally raised by Mother Goose.

Ready for this hot take on the temperature of ketchup?

Ketchup is best eaten cold and out of the large squeeze bottle, not the glass container. I only ever see those glass bottles at diners, though, never in the wild at somebody’s house. Probably because it is too hard to get it out of that glass bottle. Some people stick the knife up there, other people hit the 57 on the label, other people hopelessly hammer away at the bottom like a caveman trying to make fire.

There really is no right way to extract ketchup from the glass bottle. I bet the only reason Big Ketchup still sells it in that glass bottle is so they can continue to assert their dominance over adults by making them look totally foolish trying to slather their food in this condiment made for children.

Or do you think Big Ketchup knows you will end up hammering out twice—or sometimes even three times!—as much ketchup as you need to make you go through their product at an even faster rate? Devious bastards. That’s how they get you.

“Nevermind, I got it,” she said.

Well, I wonder what she means by that?

Ben Krimmel

A Baltimore-born writer who has come to realize the best time to eat lunch is 12:37 p.m.

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