I was the fourth of four boys, and I showed up late. I mentioned somewhere before in my ramblings that my brothers were 13, 14, and 15 when I was born, so in essence, I had a whole lot of authority figures, rather than partners in crime.
Fortunately, my cousin Eric visited on most weekends, and even came to live with us for a while. He and I were (and still are) only three months apart. We were more like brothers than anything else.
One lazy afternoon we were having fish sticks and french fries, and I was wrestling with the ketchup. You know, I still don’t understand why they put ketchup in those glass jars, by the way. I realize glass is so plentiful and all that, and even posted about it a few days ago. I also definitely agree with the benefits of using it like they do for pickles, and mayonnaise and severed heads and jelly. I would even submit it would be a good idea for ketchup, but WHY that shape? What a pain in the ass! You want some mayo or mustard, you can scoop it out with a spoon, or even just dunk whatever you’re eating into it. Not ketchup, no sir. Only thing you can get in there is a butter knife, which you have to do a dozen times to cover your bread or amass an adequate puddle to dip fries or what have you… Just doesn’t make any damn sense, says I.
So anyway, I was shaking that thing like a mad man, when my cousin hatched a plan. He’d seen on TV (which at our age meant: fact) that if you held the bottle by the neck in a tight fist, with your thumb over the cap (for obvious reasons) and swung it around like Pete Townshend doing a windmill the ketchup would loosen up, and flow freely. Centrifugal motion and what not, right? (Which I just learned isn’t Centrifical… Live and learn, eh?)
Well you know what? It worked. He handed me back the bottle and “blurp” I got my ketchup puddle. No mess, like you might have been expecting.
Something anyone who knows anything about young males age 10 to dead would know, when you do something stupid, and it works without adverse consequence, you do it again until it does. And we did.
Once again, he took the bottle, and once again, it went ’round and ’round. “Whoa!” I shouted, “Dude!” We cleaned the red stripe that marked the walls and floor with a sense of such urgency that you might have thought we were moving a body. We got it done quickly and perfectly. Walls and floor were clean again, and we wouldn’t get caught. Now we could commence the hysterics that follow such a thing.
Our kitchen was in a section of the house that was an addition. There was no basement below, and no second floor or attic above, so to run the electric for the lights, the landlord put in a dropped ceiling. It’s the kind of dropped ceiling you’d see in a college cafeteria, 2’x4′ rectangular foam pieces. Very light, very cheap… Very absorbent. We scrubbed the ketchup stripe out of that thing, or perhaps I should say, INTO that thing as best we could, and put it back up. It was like a bad comb over… We totally knew it was what it was, but just pretended not to.
Somehow, no one in any position of authority in my house ever saw it, and we lived there another three or four years. Just like CSI Grissom always says: “Nobody ever looks up”. …thank god.