Coming Out of the Spice Cabinet
I used to hate mustard when I was little.
Well, maybe I didn’t hate mustard, I think it’s more that I hated that I wanted to love ketchup, but mustard would call to me like the Tell Tale Heart every damn place I went.
It’s not mustard’s fault. It was me the whole time, and I didn’t even know it. I hated that mustard was an option in my world. It made things complicated and confusing, which made me frustrated and angry. I mean, ketchup is the end of the story when it comes to condiment options, clearly. Right?
But things change with time, as they do. The heady fumes of the rules you were given while growing up lose their potency after a while, don't they? The things we think we know about ourselves, and more importantly, the assumptions we make about others can start to realign if we let them.
Some of us know immediately who we are and exactly what kind of jam we want on our scones. Some of us think we know, and we keep trying jam after jam, until we find out that it was honey we wanted all along.
Condiments are so simple, and so confusing. Like those stupid freaking Chinese puzzles people put on their wine bottles as a party gift (looking at you, McGraths).
When I was younger, I’d get so frustrated that the ketchup I thought I was destined to love felt so wrong. It was like crossing your arms the wrong way: you *can* do it, but, why? It’s really uncomfortable.
Then one day I woke up, and saw mustard in a way I hadn’t before - probably on a piece of cheese, if I know myself at all - and it made me ask some questions: Do I like this? Is it a phase? Am I just bored? Is this because I watched The L Word that one time by accident? Am I going to have to dress differently? Do I like ketchup AND mustard? Who shot J.R.?
When I say that tastes can change, I mean it. But also what I mean is, I probably liked mustard the whole time, and either didn’t know it, or didn’t want to admit it.
(Read: the latter.)
And to say I’m stubborn is an understatement of comical proportions. That’s like saying Hitler was partial to blonds.
I think people always assumed that I was really into mustard, probably because I watched a lot of cooking shows. But this was a big surprise to me, so you can just take that assumption back to wherever it came from and shove it. I feel weirdly defensive of that actually. No one gets to decide what I put on my hamburger but me.
I'm also oddly frustrated that in this day and age we still feel compelled to know what brand of tartar sauce someone will put out at a picnic. You can hear how ridiculous it sounds right? "She's coming to the party with....what??" Come on. We have more important things to do.
I can already guess that I’m going to get some questions, or maybe comments. I can hear them now:
“Does this mean I can’t make mustard jokes?”
“Are you going to be rubbing all your mustard loving in my face now?”
“I don’t care what you do behind closed doors, as long as I don’t have to see that you with mustard.”
“You just haven’t met the right ketchup.”
“Liking mustard is a choice.”
I don’t know much...and I mean that...I know very little for someone with such brittle bones, but let me promise something: I didn’t choose this.
Jesus. I really didn’t choose this. Who wants to be “the other”?
You don’t think I’d rather not have to write this? Who really wants to tell their family about how they choose to put on condiments? None of them had to sit me down to let me know that they’re rolling with pickle relish. No one cried when they came home for the first time with barbeque sauce.
I want to make something clear...crystal clear...clear as the award winning Linda-Carter-as-Wonder-Woman blue eyes in my face, clear: liking mustard is not a choice, it’s who I am.
Just like how I have dark hair and a weirdly good musical ear.
The choice part is whether I hid this and lived a dangerously muted life, or whether I decided that being a human being - just like you - was worth a few potential raised eyebrows.
So yeah, pretty much the second I realized what kind of hot sauce I was going to put on my scrambled eggs, that was it. No looking back, and no regrets.
And the only reason I'm talking about this now is because I have an opportunity to inspire conversation.
That and I'm a little full of myself. At least I know who I am.
Ain’t nobody got time for wasting their life away because they’re afraid to be themselves. There just isn't enough life to live to spend part of it marinading in the wrong juice. That's not the best thing for me, anyway.
In fact, when push came to shove and I started hearing myself say, “Well, I’ll be ok with this if my sister/parents/cousins/best friends are ok with it,” that was my little Bat Signal that I haven’t been doing what’s best for me.
And at the end of the day, if I’m not ok, no one around me will be. Ask anyone who has been in a three county radius of me when I’m hungry.
So, no, I didn’t choose that mustard would be what I’d go for, but thank God I do.
I mean at the end of the day, whether it’s guacamole or Tostitos mild chunky salsa, does it really freaking matter? It’s all messy and sort of gross when you think about it.
Here’s the thing. You’ve known me for a while now. I’ve made you laugh. I hope I’ve even made you cry. Now, I need to make you think. I’m asking you to think.
I’m learning and growing and changing...that’s what all of the work I have been doing has been about. That’s what the work you’re doing in your life is about too. And this is the kind of work that not even a large DeFazio’s smoked mozzarella pizza can fix.
I don’t want or need your acceptance or validation. I don’t want your tolerance. I don’t want your judgment or assumptions. And I definitely don’t want your prayers, unless they’re about me winning the lottery.
I want your well wishes. I want you to wish me luck, because don’t we all need it when it comes to finding our way in this world of saucy decisions?
I want your questions, as long as they’re not ignorant. Think before you say things, and you won’t be sorry later...as my mother has said to me every day since I was in utero.
I want those questions because I’m here to tell you that I have questions too. I’m questioning a lot of things.
E.g. why did Rachel choose Bryan and not Peter in the Bachelorette??
You know what I don’t question though? Mustard.
Not even for a second. Mustard is great, as it turns out. And even if it is a little hard to open, it's worth the effort.
There are some questions I bet you’ll be asking:
- Yes, I have many mustards in my fridge.
- No, the mustard that you assume is going on my hotdog is actually not.
- Yes, it means you have to stop making derogatory jokes that put down and belittle people based on their preference of toppings. You should stop that anyway. It’s hurtful.
- No, you don’t have to worry that I will want to smear your dijon...ever. I don’t see you throwing yourself at every ketchup that crosses your path. I mean, except for that time you had half a bottle of Merlot at that wedding. We’ve all been there.
Other things of note:
Nothing’s different about me, other than I might be happier.
<Might...turns out mustards are complicated. #StillWorthIt>
Yes, I feel more comfortable here than I have since I can remember. And, yes that freaks me out. I'm not worried though. I know exactly what I want out of life, and I'm lucky enough to have the hutzpah to go get it now.
By the way, this isn’t the end of the conversation. I’ll be sorry if you don’t want to hear about my life with mustard, so you’re free to unsubscribe.
That’s what it would have to be, you'd have to unsubscribe from my life, unfortunately.
I know with out question what my worth is, and I deserve love and belonging in every part of my world.
I am fortunate enough to have a voice and <strangely> I do have an audience (if you will) who struggle with life just like I do, and I’m going to keep speaking with, to, and for them. Oxford commas and all.
I hope you’ll stick around. This is all new, and it’s hard, but sort of fascinating.
And I hope you share this with anyone who needs reminding that they can dip their pizza crust in ranch OR blue cheese...it's 2017 for Christ's sake.
Oh, one last thing...