Spent the whole day catching up--reading due-tomorrow library magazines and bouncing around to all the wonderful blogs I've been forced to neglect during the work week. All the catching up led my brain to ketchup, because that's the way my brain works.
At our house growing up, we sometimes put ketchup on our bologna sandwiches--or at least I did. I must not have been the only one because I never once thought it was weird until the summer I turned 11.
A group of my mother's extended family was over at my Aunt Mae's house for haying. The adults and the older kids helped out in the field; I was consigned to the house to keep an eye on the younger kids and to make sandwiches for the hungry workers to eat when they came in for lunch.
Mae showed me a stack of lunch meat and cheese and when I asked what else to put on the sandwiches, meaning condiments, she said just do an equal number of all "three things." So ten or fifteen sandwiches with mayonnaise.* Ten with mustard. Ten with ketchup. No problem, right?
Big problem. The look on Mae's face when she saw a stack of sandwiches smeared with ketchup is pretty much the look I would have today if faced with a stack of sandwiches smeared with ketchup, having long since outgrown my taste for ketchup-covered processed meat (hot dogs being the obvious exception). At the time, though, I was devastated and completely confused. What was I supposed to use, if not ketchup?
Mae said something pretty nasty, the specific content of which I can't remember, and my mother stepped in and led me safely away. A few of the adults gamely selected ketchup sandwiches, probably out of sympathy as much as anything.
My mother then went back and told Mae she should've been more specific and asked what the third condiment was supposed to be, if not ketchup. And the answer was butter. Butter? Really?
That was not the first time I felt like an alien in the bosom of my mother's family. And it would not be the last. Eventually, though, much like I outgrew my taste for ketchup-covered bologna, I outgrew my desire to fit in with that particular group of folks.
*We did not use mayonnaise in our house. My mother bought knock-off Miracle Whip, but she was really the only one who used it--and she used it on peanut butter sandwiches.