You’re seated alongside your ex-college-swimmer honey, the one with the perfect body, even if a wayward hair or two might sprout from those rosy, jutting nipples. The strains of “Hooch,” by the band Everything, blare, setting a scene of wistful desire. You’re wondering if she’s got the love, if she’s got the freshie-freshie … you know, the only sweetest thing in the world.
Are you aware that she’s about to tell you that she will:
A. Start seeing other people immediately, prompting you to assume that this has happened already?
B. Launch into a protracted explanation for the relationship-breaker — what she proclaims to be your homophobia, displayed in stark, “rather disturbing clarity,” when you told her over ice cream that you think “gay people are funny?”
C. Wish you the best in your future endeavors even though you’ll never again be respected by her liberal, suburban-guilt-ridden, former individual-medleying ass?
Of course not.
But of course that’s what she does.
And what, pray tell, does Heinz ketchup have to do with this?
Please, children, do pull up a chair.
It’s in your pocket. It’s a small glass bottle of the condiment you were proud to call “the world’s preeminence of sauce-making,” even in the presence of that French TV star with the ponytail at Fleur de Lys (OK, he probably didn’t hear you above the crashing metallic din of the line cooks, but still).
You’re seated at Fick’s Fish Fry, a charming clam shack next to a Radio Shack. It’s a seaside place 18 miles inland from the seaside. You stuffed the bottle in your cargo shorts right before leaving your apartment because you’ve been to Fick’s ad nauseam and were always disappointed. Not by the entrée fare, mind you — the ling cod is fresh and flaky, the shrimp are frozen but good enough, and the calamari never feels like rubber between your incisors. The wait staff knows to serve your fries extra-crispy.
The problem is the ketchup. It’s Hunt’s, a dreaded abomination of processed food. One tablespoon equals two fingers stuffed down a throat in a dorm room at 4 a.m. Countless times before, pre-ex-swimmer, you left for Fick’s and forgot to grab your Heinz bottle on the way out. You cursed yourself upon arrival each time.
But not today.
Today, you brought the future missus along and remembered to pack your little red tubular buddy, too. You were proud of this and you told her. She received said pride with a look that whispered, “Wow, you’re weird, but I kind of like having sex with you once or twice a week when I’m able to drive the 48 miles up here or you have the time to take the bus and the BART train down to me, so I’ll act like what you consider to be brilliant preparation and I consider a sign that you’re mildly retarded is indeed as astute and resourceful as you claim.”
Maybe you’ve just answered one of your own questions.
Maybe the fact that she just dumped you, not two minutes after the server gal Rita stuck the “Captain’s Catch” two-person platter on top of the red-and-white paper tablecloth and you unsheathed the Heinz and held it aloft like you were the swashbuckler’s swashbuckler, had more to do with the fact that you don’t own an operational motor vehicle than any condimental eccentricities she might privately view as awkward.
Maybe the fact that she rents a flat in Russian Hill for over two grand a month and that it has hardwood floors, her grandmother’s Persian rug, oak shelves laden with color-coordinated hardbacks, a framed Shawn Colvin poster and an L.L. Bean-issued chocolate Lab named Sadie outweighs what you’ve dragged to the table of life — a studio on the seedy side of a cow town in a complex that surrounds a dirty pool, which prompted your now-ex to liken it to “where Daniel-San lived in The Karate Kid.”
Maybe it was just a matter of time before she moved on to a real relationship with a real guy with a real job, a real house and a real car.
Yeah, that’s probably it, you surmise, sliding the bottle back in your pocket, your chair back into place, and saying, “Well, good luck then,” before walking out of Fick’s forever, leaving your Summer Sanders to ponder a $33 bill, a steaming plate of breaded seafood, and the biggest mistake of her young life.
”Have fun with your new boyfriend. And your fucking Hunt’s.”
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