Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Mayonnaise and Margarine

Posted by Neal on November 23, 2009

It happened again. My wife asked me to hand her the mayonnaise, and I did. As soon as I did, I sensed her exasperation, and realized I’d messed up again.

“I mean, Miracle Whip,” she said, handing back the mayo. I handed her the Miracle Whip, and as she spooned it into the bowl of tuna, I knew she was wondering how, after thirteen years of marriage, I could still be thinking she wanted mayonnaise when she asked for mayonnaise.

Well, I’m sorry! Just because it’s white and you spread it on bread for your sandwiches doesn’t make it mayonnaise. I know from unpleasant personal experience that mayonnaise and Miracle Whip are quite different things.

Still and all, I guess my wife figures I can learn to accommodate this feature of her vocabulary. After all, she learned long ago that I want margarine when I ask for the butter.

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14 Responses to “Mayonnaise and Margarine”

  1. John Cowan said

    Eeew. Sweet mayonnaise. I’ve never even eaten the stuff, and already I’m grossed out. Eeeeeew.

  2. Alan Palmer said

    No margarine is sold here. It’s called a “spread”. I’ve no idea what the difference is, just that it tastes more like butter than the margarine I remember.

  3. Stan said

    You could swap the contents of the jars, but then — according to the Law of the Contrary Universe — one of you would finally get the transaction right, i.e. wrong.

  4. Faldone said

    You could save yourself a lot of grief just by tossing out all that yucky Miracle Whip®. How anyone can stomach that miserable excuse for imitation mayonnaise is beyond me.

    • Neal said

      No good. The wife would buy more, or worse, put it on the grocery list for me to get. And either she or her sister got Doug and Adam used to the stuff when I wasn’t paying attention years ago.

  5. viola said

    Neal, you’re most likely still reeling from that Miracle Whip (Is it that miraculous? I think not.) nightmare you had a couple months ago. Your brain’s not willing to switch yet to readily accepting the evils of Miracle Whip (also known generically as salad dressing, which can be another subject of confusion for a lot of folks).

    • Neal said

      I’d forgotten about that. For those who are wondering what she’s talking about:

      I had a nightmare a few weeks ago. Someone was making sandwiches, out of some good, fresh, homemade bread. “Better stop her before she makes your sandwich,” I thought, “or else she’ll use Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise.” But wouldn’t you know it, one distraction or another kept coming up, and when I finally had a chance to talk to the sandwich maker, it was too late: She had indeed put Miracle Whip on my sandwich. Doug, Adam, and their mother laughed all day about my nightmare.

      On a side note, it’s pretty much normal for me in my dreams not to achieve what I wanted to achieve, get to where I wanted to go, find what I wanted to find. But for all I know, maybe other people do get what they want in their dreams. Do you? What about you lucid dreamers?

      • I read an article that described a new theory of dreams — specifically, that dreams are like exercises in a mental dojo. They are a non-dangerous means of preparing you for difficult situations so you can practice how to deal with them. Such as, for instance, (a) running away from a lion, (b) going through with an act of sex, or (c) making sure you get the right condiment on your sandwich.

  6. In my household of origin, we specified “the Hellman’s” or “the Miracle Whip.” Only Hellman’s could be used for the cole slaw or steamed artichokes, according to me and my mom.

  7. [...] Posted by Neal on November 23, 2010 Adam and I went on his Cub Scout pack’s annual fall campout last weekend. For our Saturday and Sunday breakfasts I packed bacon and eggs in our cooler. But as I assembled our camp stove on Saturday morning, I suddenly realized that I’d forgotten to pack any butter (OK, margarine). [...]

  8. Catanea said

    Hellmans, I am told, is now made with GMOs. Yecch. I had to give them all up, and make my own “mayonnaise” (blender, whole egg) with eggs from my neighbour’s hens. At least I know there are no clearly added additives. Lemon juice, french (Dijon) mustard, salt, sugar (no pepper because I’ve been making it since our 26-year-old was an anti-pepper nipper; must modify), sometimes a pitted green olive or two, because I am sure using olive oil makes no difference; so: sunflower oil.
    Bingo.
    Mayonnaise.
    No multi-nationals involved* (the sunflower oil is local).
    Seriously.
    And I pronounce it as though it came from Mahó.
    *The multi-national that I find indispensible is Moulinex, who made the blender. That’s where my peanut-butter comes from, too.

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