Jon de Vos: If it’s bad, it’ll only get worse
February 15, 2008
It was such a sad moment, like it always is when we suffer the loss of a longtime companion.
Despite the technology that went into prolonging his life, despite the best science behind the lifesaving pumps and compressors humming in the background, the Mayonnaise expired just after midnight last night.
The loss of “Mayo,” as his friends knew him, wasn’t unexpected. Try as they might, no one could count the salads and hamburgers he’d helped, but lately he’d been complaining about a “hollow, empty feeling, like he was all used up,” friends said.
He passed quietly in his darkened room, surrounded by fellow condiments, relishing their own memories of appetizers and parties with friends and loved ones. Many of them quietly expressed surprise because it was generally agreed they all felt that the Apple Butter would go first. The Polish Mustard gave the eulogy, praising Mayo for his ease in complementing Italian Mafia types like the Prosciuttos and the Capicolas.
A Deviled Egg wiped a tear from its yolk and said, “When Mayo died, it felt like something died inside of me, too.”
Everyone there doubtlessly reflected on their own time left in this earthly Kelvinator, built-in double-wide. Several mourners reflected on the question of whether one’s life was made better by knowing the exact moment of one’s death.
“It’s predestination; it’s creepy, almost like God stamped a date on our butts,” said the Ham.
“When I go,” the Peanut Butter said, “I hope it’s smooth.”
The Salmon Mousse muttered vengefully, “When I go, I’m gonna take a bunch of people with me.”
The Olive Oil was sobbing inconsolably, “I can’t stand the thought of expiring a virgin.”
My brother-in-law prides himself on his frugality, such an ugly word and a virtue of questionable merit in my mind.
“Frugal” is an excuse not to throw anything away, even things that should be. Take his bottle of catsup, for instance. Even the most polite of casual observers are apt to remark, “Say, how about that. Brown catsup? Never seen such a thing. No, no, I couldn’t possibly stay for lunch.” Then they mutter under their breath, “I don’t think my health insurance is up for that challenge.”
Expiration dates are mere suggestions to him. I’ve seen him boldly dare himself to eat something so old as to have lost its basic identity. Something that would trigger projectile solutions to gastric distress in me, doesn’t phase him in the least.
I figure, if the manufacturer of the food has gone out of its way to warn the public about dead food, why would anyone not pay attention?
To me, there exists a vast difference between “good” and “bad.” Not in the ethical sense, more like in the sense of milk. Good milk. Bad milk. Like a switch on a wall, there’s a moment when good milk goes bad. If you think about it, though, “bad” is a woefully inadequate word to describe milk that has gone a couple of weeks past the day it died. And, as bad as that is, that’s as good as it’s going to be. Milk, eggs, bread, almost anything you can think of has its glory days and when they’re in the rear view mirror, there’s not much you can do about it.
Drink your milk, grow up strong, but always check the date.
If you routinely ignore expiration dates, you’re playing with fire. To break yourself of the habit, try saying the word “frugal” rapidly, over and over, until it loses its meaning.
When it does, don’t try to find it.
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