Ketchup

Could a hot dog explain everything?

Herbert Lui
May 28, 2013 · 2 min read

Word on the street is that you’re not a big fan of ketchup. What’s your beef with it? Why don’t you like it?

In my head it’s an American creation to cover up bad food. It’s basically fuckin’ tomato and sugar. If you have a good hot dog, it’s delicious. You don’t need anything else on it. In Berlin on this last trip, I sent a girl who works with me to get me a hot dog, and I said “no mustard please” — sometimes I have mustard on it — and she brings it to me with fuckin’ ketchup. And then my wife did the same fuckin’ thing the next day! She put mustard AND ketchup on it, and she knows I hate it.

Mark McNairy, interviewed by Jake Woolf for Hypebeast

Life is a hot dog.

And it can be extremely easy to mask with ketchup and mustard. Work. Love. Friends. Video games. Partying. School. Hobbies. Any single one of these (amongst many other things) can easily overwhelm the many other nuances that contribute to the overall taste of your life.

We happily throw ourselves into what’s famously known as, “The Busy Trap.” And there are tons of people who spend most of their days trying to find that perfect someone. Even more interesting: once they’ve found them, they’re nowhere to be found.

It can easily become an unmissable ritual to spend most weekends (or weeknights, in some school’s cases) boozing, partying, and clubbing with friends, just keeping our eyes on where we’re headed next or who’s going to be there. Don’t even get me started on Starcraft and video games.

We forget that these choices we made earlier in life are exactly just that: choices. We often evolve them into responsibilities, or obligations, or we spiral into a pattern with other people that grows more extreme. And then we wonder, “Damn, why does everyone seem to have it together? And why don’t I have enough time to chase my dreams?”

Whether you’re seeking clarity, or even just to create a bit more time, try this:

Completely remove the ketchup from your life for a week or two. That way, you’ll know if you actually have a delicious hot dog of a life, or if you have something that needs a bit more barbecuing or fresher ingredients. It becomes much easier to prioritize and figure out which goals need to happen next, and where you should guide yourself.

Naturally, this also comes with a harsh short-term side effect; as the fog covering the future clears, you will also clearly see who your true friends, lovers, and supporters are, and distinguish them from the ones that just happened to be along for the ride.

For some reason, as I recall it today, it was McNairy who later said that this ketchup concept applied to life. Upon re-reading the article though, this is not the case. I highly doubt that it was an original idea, so I’m pretty sure I read it somewhere else.

I. M. H. O.

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