I hate condiments...Unless…whipped cream, is whipped cream a condiment? (Not on a burger, of course!)
I had a great marathon chat with a dear friend this week. I love holiday time for many reasons…it’s great to catch up with friends and family who are near, but it also provides time to connect with dear ones who live far, far away.
My friend Caroline (not her real name…she’s okay with me sharing this sweet story in my blog but prefers a bit of anonymity) and I had the best long, languishing phone call this week. I wish we were closer, but distance doesn’t diminish affection and connection. She’s been a soul sister for decades…and I think we bonded over our mutual quirkiness. Oh, that and wicked humor. 😉
Thanksgiving put Caroline and her family on the road this year…a ten-hour trip by car with three children under ten, a dog, a cat and lizard. I still don’t understand why the pets (especially the lizard) needed to make the trip but asking about that was too much of a detour in our convo, so I’ll need to inquire another time. She had ‘an incident to share’ that she described as annoying…but to me? It was hilarious…prompting a reply of “And…so…what’s the problem?” Here’s the story…
Caroline learned a life-changing lesson about her middle child this week. Turns out, as of a few days ago, he will not eat burgers with condiments of any sort. No mustard, ketchup, pickles, and heaven forbid – no sneaky ‘secret sauce’. Her other kids? Happy as clams to eat what’s in front of them…not a picky bone in their bodies. Given the pandemic and the fact that her wild and crazy troupe hadn’t ‘road tripped’ in a long time…and because kids morph and change…she and her hubs had no idea their middle dude (who’s five) would refuse to eat a Hamburger Happy Meal if it was standard issue. Meaning? No condiments.
How did they discover the change in his palate? With a car full of cranky humans (not just the kids – she and the hubs were battling about navigation) and too many pit stops…logged exclusively for the dog who kept throwing up…she decided they’d do drive-thru food so they could log more miles. No stopping unless it was absolutely necessary (meaning – a human needed a rest stop, not the dog, so he could barf, sniff and meander). She was mad, her hubs was mad…trading snide comments about wayfinding and her sarcastic reminders to him that an overnight drive could’ve prevented some of the daytime madness.
Anywho…. back to the Happy Meal. Middle dude…the five-year-old…had a full-on freak-a-thon when he discovered his burger had all the saucey stuff on it that he now hates. Caroline tried to smooth things over as she removed the culprits…pickles are easy, but she knew that wouldn’t be enough so she wiped off the visible clods of ketchup and mustard and figured that would do the trick. No, no, no. Middle Dude was watching and wailed further when she handed back the ‘take two’ version because the bun still smelled like ketchup. He wanted a plain burger…no extra stuff…and wiping down the bun didn’t render it edible.
As Caroline continued the story (TL;DR – they turned around and drove back to McDonald’s to get a factory-issued plain burger for Middle Dude) she expected me to say she was a pushover or a mommy failure for giving in to her son. First? Who am I to judge? I laughed and told Caroline that parenting – especially on the road – is a survival-of-the-fittest endeavor. Do what works for you, I said, as long as someone’s driving safely. Second? I don’t think Caroline knew…remembered…or cared to remember…that I, too, despise condiments. Especially sloppy ketchup and mustard. (While we’re at it, I think salad dressing and mayo are abominations.) Yuck. I have no affinity for slightly tart and sour accoutrements to food. Unless, as I said, you count tangy whipped cream as a condiment. 😉
The best thing about catching up with friends is sharing our quirks. Our fears about possible parenting and relationship mistakes? Sure thing. Admitting to odd food preferences and picky-eater qualities? Again – sure thing. And occasionally, a sweet chat with an old friend conjures a memory worth sharing.
Caroline wondered if her Middle Dude would grow out of his pickiness about condiments. “No clue“, I said, adding that I never changed. I’ve hated condiments for decades and despite many miles of road trips in my vagabond upbringing, my sweet papa always knew a regular trip through a drive-thru was a no-go because it was easier to get “little Vic’s special order” if he went in, stretched his legs (his cover story) to be sure I’d get my plain, plain, plain burger.
Despite mom’s hateful looks in my direction, irritated that my dislike of condiments slowed us down, dad never needed to ask what I wanted from McDonald’s. He just accommodated me. I hadn’t thought about that for years until I talked with Caroline, and it was fun to share it with her…along with a reminder that the next time we spoke, I wanted a moment to talk to Middle Dude. He and I have a lot in common…you know, condiment-wise.
Saturday smiles…from me to you!