Joco Opinion

Denise Snodell: Love in the condiment aisle

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“This is NOT mayonnaise. What were you thinking?”

I was shocked at my sudden rage. Most of it I kept inside, but I think my husband caught the daggers shooting straight from my eyes. It was a weird moment. I’m still trying to figure it out.

The man I married skews toward the hyper spectrum. He always has to be busy. Accomplishing. Pacing around. Knocking down the to-do list. This is good. I admire his energy and lack of an off button. His professional life, which is demanding and often dramatic, never wears him down. Even on weekends he has to fix things, plan things, or run to and fro on errands. The latter is what started the trouble.

That particular Saturday morning of mayo rage, I was home working on a “creative” project. I felt exhausted, thanks to yet another insomnia kick, but I had a deadline. So Busy Man popped into my home office. He asked if I needed anything from the store. I did. Mayonnaise.

What a weird request, coming from me, a person who puts mayo and raw chicken at the top of her fear list. I rarely reach for the stuff, but the previous day I had been craving tuna melts. This is all mundane and embarrassing to admit here, yet it’s the truth. Brace yourself for one more dull detail: I absolutely must make tuna salad with a little mayonnaise.

But there was a lingering problem. The jar we had in the fridge was three weeks past its “Use By” date. This was not acceptable for me, Germ Cop. I firmly believe “Use By” dates, which are direr than “Sell by” dates, are still not good enough. We need expiration stamps offering the exact hour and minute of food-borne illness danger: Expires March 1, 2016, 3:17 p.m. central, per atomic clock. This is a dream of mine.

So maybe, in addition to sleep deprivation, I was mad at myself for keeping a Hellman’s time bomb on the refrigerator door shelf for an entire 21 days. The point is, all I wanted was a lousy jar of mayonnaise to restore the balance in my life. And what does my husband return with? I’ll tell you what: Miracle Whip.

When he so sweetly asked if I needed anything from the retail world, I almost said, “Don’t get Miracle Whip.” But in that sweeping nanosecond of thought, I concluded surely he wouldn’t do that. A man of such wisdom. Come on.

Well, he did do it. And the conversation continued something like this:

“Don’t you know the difference between Miracle Whip and mayonnaise? Are you from another planet?”

He replied, “What. It’s the same thing. Look at it. White stuff in a jar. For sandwiches. It was right next to the Hellman’s.” He had this maddening “no big deal” air about him.

I read the ingredients with fury, “It’s NOT the same thing. There’s high fructose corn syrup in this jar! It has a PARAGRAPH of ingredients!” I was kind of screechy.

My husband was flummoxed. He was unaware there was such a thing as Not Mayonnaise. But he was even more baffled at my flailing arms, my jogging around the kitchen island.

It was time for me to convey my feelings. “Imagine if you had asked me to stop by O’Reilly Auto Parts to pick up motor oil, but instead I returned with transmission fluid. Because what the heck, it’s just liquid stuff you put in an engine. Same gray plastic bottle with that manly foil label.”

I managed to whip up my own miracle with an automotive metaphor. He instantly understood my ridiculous, picky condiment wrath. The rest of the weekend went well.

Love thrives on communication. Getting enough sleep helps, too. Happy Valentine’s Day.   

Denise Snodell writes alternate weeks. Reach her at On Twitter: @DeniseSnodell