Student Showcase: Laura Dzwonczyk

White Gloop Judgment

It was inevitable. I should have known that, one day, I’d receive the bugged-out stare, the strange look, at my face, back down at my sandwich, then back to my face again. Is she serious? Oh god, she’s really serious. That’s what she’s eating. Alas, I was a sheltered child, encouraged by overly generous parents to pursue “individualism,” another word for, “we’ll let you eat whatever the hell you want, in whatever combination, as long as you’re eating something.” And so my mother said nothing when I first made up my favorite sandwich, didn’t bat an eye. My father may have made a few wisecracks, but he jokes about everything, so it went right over my head.

And so I didn’t give my culinary choices a second thought until the winter I was six. My neighbor Kaitlyn and I had been out sledding all morning, and when we returned to my house for lunch, my mother was making soup and sandwiches. As I sat myself into my kitchen chair, sitting on my legs so I’d be high enough to reach the table, I saw Kaitlyn look with half-interest, half-disgust at my lunch.

            “Is that a mayonnaise and cheese sandwich?”

            “Yep.” I was unperturbed. I hated any type of lunchmeat, and mustard just wasn’t my thing, but this right here was heaven on earth: two slices of white American cheese slathered with mayo, all slapped haphazardly between two pieces of white bread. Lunch of champions. “Do you want one?”

            She shook her head, with that unconditional acceptance that pervades childhood, reaching for her own turkey and cheese. I continued to pack this lunch all throughout my elementary school days, alternating it with Lunchables, unaware and uncaring of any outside opinions. This same attitude allowed me to wear overalls and flowers in my hair and read preteen historical fiction novels like Boston Jane for SSR time and skip down the halls with my friends after recess, singing “It’s No Fun Being in Sixth Grade” at the top of my lungs. It was only after my move to middle school that I abruptly started picking out jean miniskirts, shaving my legs after Jordan Munsell came up to me during softball day in gym class and said, “Everyone is making fun of you,” and eating lunch meat. Unsurprisingly, I still do all of these things.

            “We need to get you back to where you were before middle school,” my shrink said after our initial meeting. When I looked at her in horror, she laughed. “Your mindset, I mean. How unfiltered you were, how much you let other people see your true self without letting your brilliant mind get in the way.”

            When it comes to debate over my favorite condiment, I’m a surprisingly good mediator. I can completely understand why it scares people, with its semi-gelatinous, gloopy off-white manner. I sympathize with people who are put off, even repulsed, by its strange, thick, barely-there flavor. But as much as I want to go along with everyone else on this one, as much as logic defies it, I can’t quit mayonnaise. It raises sandwiches and burgers a cut above their normal standard, and don’t even get me started on pasta salad. I’d probably be model thin without it, but avocado spreads and ketchup just don’t do it for me. It has that strong of a hold over me. It’s magic. And so, when you tell me you don’t like mayonnaise and I calmly, politely, ask you to please never speak to me again, it’s nothing personal. I don’t actually mean it. But I may love mayonnaise just a little bit more than you.

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