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Wednesday, April 13

Uncynical Wednesdays: The Pickle Jar

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The Pickle Jar

My old roommate Tilden loved pickles. When we lived together she would eat them with abandon. But when she moved out to the countryside, halfway between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, she quit eating them.

‘I can’t open the jars,’ she’d say, her lip quivering, asking me to open the jar for her.

I thought she trusted me because I had told her my man-versus-pickle-jar story.

When I was nineteen, I was helping my mother prepare for the annual Fourth of July picnic. Everyone in the family was invited and my mother prepared a huge spread of hamburgers and hotdogs. As the guests were arriving, she was setting out the various condiments: cheese, onion, tomato, ketchup, mustard and mayo. Suddenly a look of panic flashed in her eyes.

‘Where are the pickles?’ my cousin gasped.

‘We can’t go to the store for pickles! It’s already closed for the celebration!’ my uncle shrieked.

My mother charged into the kitchen, frantically tearing through the back reaches of the upper cabinets. Soup cans and teabags went flying as she ransacked the shelves, hoping against hope for a jar of pickles.

‘I found them’ she yelled, producing a rusted, discolored jar of pickles.

‘But it’s been back there for years,’ my sister lamented. ‘No one will be able to open that jar.’

‘Someone has to try,’ my grandmother said, before collapsing onto a heap on the yard.

While everyone rushed to her aid, I approached the pickle jar…

I circled the jar and took it in my left hand and pulled—hard. The lid was rusted and dusty. I twisted with all my might, but the lid would not yield to my strength. I reached across with my right hand, grabbed further up on the jar and yanked laterally, twisting the jar back and up with everything in me. I was sweaty and panting. The jar gave in and twisted open.

The burgers were just coming off the grill, and the paramedics were helping my grandmother off the ground. Had that jar not opened at that moment, the picnic would have been ruined. My heart was thumping so hard in my chest it was almost painful.

Though now scared shitless and bleeding from my fingers and hands, I wasn’t about to give these pickles the satisfaction of not being eaten. Despite their sogginess and faint metallic aftertaste, I piled them onto my hamburger.

Though it’s not a story that I often tell, Tilden knew it. I thought that was why she gave me the pickle jars to open. One time though, she explained her rational.

‘I just want to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.’


Blogger hot babe writes:

Such a mocking tone on Uncynical Wednesday. I'm glad I'm not currently vacationing in FL because I fear the fates will get even with you by causing some natural disaster within your vicinity. And I want to be no where near you when they punish you for such a transgression.


Anonymous Anonymous writes:

The pickles, it turned out, were contaminated with botulism. The End.


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