Judy’s Tales: The Ketchup Incident

I wrote a speech at my mom’s memorial service about all of the adventures and good times she had throughout her life. At the end of the speech, I mentioned something about ketchup:

I canโ€™t wait for the day to come where Iโ€™ll find peace in a photo, find comfort in her belongings and be able to laugh at an empty ketchup bottle on a restaurant table.

As my uncle Marty read that final line, the packed room let out a chuckle, as most people knew exactly what I was referencing.

I’ve mentioned before about how picky of an eater my mother was. Not only was she particular about what she ate, but she was also ridiculous about where she ate, how things were prepared and who could have potentially tampered with her food prior to arrival. She was the mom version of Sheldon Cooper. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The universe loved to fuck with her too. If a hair dropped onto a plate back in the kitchen of a restaurant, you can guarantee it ended up on her plate. If someone was serving cake at a birthday party, they’d lick their finger just as they were handing my mom her piece. If there was a fly in a restaurant, it would be buzzing beside our table (with a few dead ones along the windowsill too).

All of those things would send my mom into a tizzy, having her either make us leave, or politely decline to eat, sending us into a rage of fury. “You’re being ridiculous, mom!” “Just close your eyes and pretend the hair was never there, Judy!” we’d all exclaim. But once my mom was disgusted, there was no changing her mind.

But the one thing that was the most terrifying, detested, wretched, despicable, gut-wrenching, and offensive of all was when my mom caught a glimpse of an almost empty, crust-rimmed ketchup bottle on a restaurant table.

Empty Bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup - Oct 2011I can’t remember exactly when it started. I do know it was way before glass ketchup bottles were replaced with the squeeze bottle version. My mom had witnessed a guy stick his butter knife into the bottle to help aid the flow of the ketchup. He then proceeded to lick his butter knife, place it into the bottle once again to retrieve more ketchup, resulting in my mother wincing in absolute horror and making her forever ask for full bottles of ketchup from that day on.

When she learned that some restaurants refill bottles as they get low, she began asking for NEW bottles of ketchup and demanded to open them herself so she can hear that heavenly pop of a new cap twisting off. Even as establishments moved away from glass bottles and into plastic squeeze bottles, the mental damage had been done, and if a used bottle was in my mom’s view, she’d ask the waiter for a new one. She would never demand a fresh bottle, it would be more like a request backed with giggles and a singsong voice charming even the most ornery of waiters to abide by her insane request with a smile.

As more and more ketchup incidences occurred, eventually we (her family and even friends!) would be the ones to start asking the waiters for a new bottle as we saw needed. Even before they’d take our drink orders we’d say “save time and confusion and just bring us a new bottle of ketchup, trust us”. My mom would laugh and laugh and laugh giving us this deer in headlights look (see pic below) that I swear I have started giving people myself!

Miss you so much mom. Hoping you’re surrounded by nothing but fresh and sparkling new ketchup bottles in the afterlife! ๐Ÿ™‚