stinky way to start the day

IMG_2483I found it in the refrigerator yesterday as I was digging out the half and half for my early-morning coffee.

There it was, sitting quietly next to the pancake mix and Frank’s buffalo sauce, like a time bomb waiting to explode.

I had sent my son to the market the day before to pick up something we needed for dinner and told him he should also buy sandwich fixings for lunch this week. He’s starting his summer job working for a landscaper and I knew he could barely afford the gas to drive to work each day, much less buying lunch.

“Get some of their good ham,” I suggested. “Or maybe a container of pulled pork.”

And while he did take my advice and get the pork, he also bought something that is banned from my house. Like, even my ex-husband, who was not great with boundaries, knew it was off limits.

It’s fucking tunafish. There’s a big, oozing tub of it on the lower shelf of my fridge and I can’t stop thinking about it.

It freaks me out.

If I ever got, like, a piece of it on my hand, I’d have to chop it off.  It is my mortal enemy.

I worked in a deli in college and had made it clear that I did not get involved with the freaky vat of tuna for subs (or egg salad, for that matter). If you were working with me, you just knew that when an order for tuna-anything came in, you would be slathering the stuff on a roll and not me.

I found myself working with a friend one weekend afternoon our senior year, and although we were sorority sisters and had lived together the year before, she was having none of my tuna-bullshit.

An order came in for a tuna sub and she turned to me and asked me to make it. I balked.

“Make the fucking sub,” she instructed, and I knew I was being difficult and irrational, but I was actually afraid of the stuff.

In the end, it turns out I was even more afraid of her, and found myself scooping the smelly brown glop from a tub and smearing it on a sub roll.


On a recent flight to San Francisco with the kids, a family seated a few rows behind us – reluctant, it seemed, to pony-up the cash for inflight dining snackboxes – cracked open their lunches from home and the smell of tuna immediately filled the cabin.

It was all I could do not to turn around and give them the hairy eyeball for subjecting 20 rows of passengers to their lunch stench. Selfish.

And now it’s living in my house.

I’ve seen my son make a sandwich. I’ve witnessed the aftermath of debris all over the counter and sandwich matter caught in the teeth of a serrated knife lying in the sink. I don’t know if I could handle bits of tuna lying on my granite counter or perhaps dripping down the side of the container and threatening to infect the innocent pint of strawberries sitting nearby in the frig.

My first instinct when I saw the tub yesterday was to quickly wrap it up in a Target bag and throw it out in the trash in the garage.

“Don’t do that,” advised my daughter, who was almost as freaked out as I was by the discovery, but definitely more pragmatic. “It would be such a waste.”

And I know the tuna-buyer would certainly tell me I’m being a baby (which I’m sure he will after he reads this) and that’s possibly true, but he’s got his own list of of phobias (used Band Aids and hair in the drain, come to mind).

So maybe he should understand how bugged I am.

In the time it took for me to write this, I’ve heard him banging around downstairs making lunch and getting ready for another day working in the hot sun. I hope his sandwich is especially delicious when he eats it in a few hours.

And if he ever were to ask me how much I loved him, I wouldn’t say, “I love you from here to the moon and back.”

I’ll tell him, “I love you so much, I let you keep tunafish in my refrigerator.”

Because that is truly love.

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10 thoughts on “stinky way to start the day

  1. OMG!!!! OK.. I’m totally with you about the family on the plane! A “hairy eye ball” was in order! But I’m curious to know what happened to you as a child! LOL…. did you have a specific “Rotten Tuna” experience?
    I hope you’re feeling better from the the trauma! Good Luck!

    • My mom is morally opposed to ALL seafood, so we didn’t grow up eating the stuff. Unless you count fish sticks, which she told us were called “sticks.” I have moved on and now enjoy lobster, steamers, real tuna, even, just not the stuff pulled out of a can. Ewwwwww.

  2. I feel the same way about tuna fish. also a anything with wurst in the same. I even drew up a pre nup detailing my ban in such stuff. it also included baked beans, which I have sinced caved on but would never eat.
    and those people on the plane – where is the air Marshall when you need one?

    • If I ever got remarried, this would definitely be grounds for a prenup. A deal-breaker, even.

  3. I can totally sympathize- ask any of the girls I worked with in the snack bar growing up…if no one was around and someone ordered tuna, I’d tell them we were out! Its gross!

  4. This is nothing that several years of intense therapy and counseling can’t cure. I had the same problem in first grade when my mom thought it was a good idea for me to bring sardine sandwiches to school a couple of days a week. I would end up sitting at the end of the table all by myself….even the nuns did not want to come near me and my putrid smelling lunch. Have no worries though…several years later and hours of therapy made me realize that my mommy was just trying to keep me healthy and the other kids did not hate me on Mondays and Tuesdays (my sandine sandwich days.)

    • Bob E., the good news is that your mom was feeding you super healthy, albeit super stinky, lunches. And, it kept the nuns away. A win for her and a win for you, I’d say 🙂

  5. Amy, I can empathize with your smelly airplane experience! A few years ago at the end of a spring ski trip with the kids, we took an airport shuttle (a minivan) from Aspen to the Denver. We were in close quarters with the other passengers – a large Scottish family with several kids. About 5 minutes into the three hour drive, the mom broke out sandwiches for everyone. They were egg salad sandwiches After spending hours in the overheated van with the egg salad, by the time we arrived in Denver, we felt like we had bathed in the stinky stuff. yuck!

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