Jonathan Wright rides his bicycle through the Vis Comm lab.
Like a Polariod exposure in reverse, the best stories of our lives too often fade with the passage of time. So to keep some of my stories from fading out forever, I've decided to post them here. I like to call this story...
The Ketchup Katastrophe
Angelo's Pizza was one of the most popular hangouts of the 80s and 90s for University of Alberta students; it was right across the street from Lister Hall, offering not only excellent pizza, but unparalleled convenience. I certainly spent a great deal of time there, and even after I graduated I returned to Angelo's for the pizza and the memories.
On one such occasion, perhaps three or four years after my graduation, I popped in and saw an old friend from high school, one Jonathan Wright. Jonathan was lanky, typically sported a buzz cut, and spoke with a slightly watered-down British accent. We were in the high school newspaper club together; I was the editor, he was my production and graphic design guy.
Jonathan's table was right next to the "Please Wait to be Seated" aisle, so we started chatting while I waited for a server. Jonathan was having trouble with the ketchup, and started shaking it violently up and down as we spoke; I imagine he was trying to loosen up the contents so that they'd be easier to pour.
Unfortunately, Jonathan hadn't secured the lid tightly enough, and it popped off just as Jonathan was pumping the bottle skyward. A torrent of ketchup gushed straight into Jonathan's wide-open eyeball, and he started screaming in pain, flailing wildly.
I stood agog as Jonatahn leapt to his feet. "MY EYE!" he wailed, jumping up and down on the spot as other diners leapt for cover - to no avail. Thick streamers of ketchup flew through the air in all directions.
As if I were in a car crash, everything was moving in slow motion; Jonathan's arms, the ropes of crimson condiment briefly defying gravity. Ketchup gracefully arced across a woman's back, drawing a false wound across her white sweater. Ketchup plopped into the centre of her companion's salad. Ketchup leapt for the stars, only to have its ascent thwarted by the ceiling.
Jonathan ran to the bathroom, screaming; I can't remember if he flung the bottle down or took it with him. Seconds later, the server appeared, eyes wide, screaming "What is GOING ON?"
Strangely, I was untouched by the carnage, despite standing right beside the epicentre of the eruption. Jonathan came back, his eyeball bloodshot through and through, his face red from panic and embarassment.
I suppressed my laughter for long enough to make sure Jonathan was okay; I honestly don't remember much after that. Did I stay for dinner? Did Jonathan make amends with the other diners?
I have no idea. Should have written it down years ago. But I'll never forget how high that ketchup soared.