Comic relief

I’d planned on writing an insightful column this week. One which contemplated how the sorrow and grief which follows the death of a loved one often prompts us to examine the way we live our own life. But as my fingertips rested gently on my keyboard this morning, I found I wasn’t up to it just yet.

Too many people I know have lost those who are near and dear to them this week. And even from my place on the periphery of their grief, that pain was too fresh in my heart for such a weighty topic.

I’ve always given stock to that old adage about laughter being the best medicine. There is nothing more cathartic, in my opinion, than a good belly laugh or a bit of silliness. So here is my attempt at comic relief.

I love the English language, because there are so many idiosyncrasies. One word can have a host of different meanings, some of which have positive connotations. Others, negative.

The word “judgment,” for example, has some six different definitions according to Monsieurs Merriam and Webster. It can be an “authoritative opinion,” a court decree or proposition. It can even have a biblical connotation when capitalized, in reference to the final judgment of mankind by God.

We all know that being judgmental is considered a bad thing. We’re not, for example, supposed to judge others on the color of their skin, the clothes they wear, their socio-economic status or any other factor which could be deemed prejudiced. Yet from a young age, we’re encouraged to “use our judgment.” Which is really applying what we know to evaluate a situation and form an opinion.

Let’s be honest, we all make judgments about people we’ve just met. Deny it all you want, but you know you use certain clues to determine whether or not you like someone. Maybe it’s appearance, or fashion sense. Maybe it’s their manner or presence, the topics they discuss. Or even where you meet them. Perhaps it’s gut instinct.

All of these things are subjective of course. I prefer something more concrete. Which is why I have developed a list of criteria for evaluating people I meet for the first time, to gauge whether or not we are on the same page, so to speak.

The first test is whether they prefer butter or margarine. I myself am a butter person. I come from a long line of butter people. The very thought of all that creamy dairy goodness makes me feel like all is right with the world. I love it slathered on breads, melted on popcorn and of course I cook with it. (Julia Child and I would have gotten along splendidly.)

Margarine, on the other hand, makes my blood run cold. The only thing useful about it in my opinion is that its alternate name, oleo, comes in handy when doing crossword puzzles.

I would like to state for the record that I have nothing against people who do prefer margarine. I have several close friends that fall into this category. But what I can’t abide is people who can’t tell the difference between the two. It shows a startling lack of discernment in their palate. And I find that disconcerting to say the least.

Then, there is the mayonnaise or Miracle Whip debate. I, of course, am firmly on the mayonnaise side of the equation. And it better be Hellman’s.

The fact that Hellman’s isn’t sold in Colorado caused more than a minor crisis in my life when I first moved to the Western Slope of the Rockies. I made a full recovery, however, when I discovered that it was merely marketed under a different brand name - Best Foods. Which is easily identifiable by the fact that it literally has the same packaging as Hellman’s, right down to the signature blue ribbon. Once my panic attack was over, I could see this clearly.

Again, I have nothing against people who prefer Miracle Whip. It’s only those who attempt to pass it off as mayonnaise that raise my hackles. Do they think we have no taste buds?

I have other methods of evaluating people, as well. Take chocolate, for example. I have a general distrust for people who don’t like chocolate. The same with people who are too thin. It’s just creepy.

I know it may sound crazy, but I hope you won’t judge me for it.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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