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    Yesterday, while out and about, my wife helpfully informed me that I had mustard on my ear. Shelly pieced together some clues and deduced that I had eaten a pretzel with mustard, got some on my fingers, and scratched my ear. That’s probably how it happened. But by the time Shelly pointed it out, I had been chatting with friends for about ten minutes. Some people might be embarrassed in this sort of situation. Not me. If I spend any time around condiments and come away with mustard on just one ear, that’s a win. I’m a glass half full kind of guy. If you consider my total body area, I was 99.9% mustard free.

    Shelly directed me as I tried to wipe off the offending spot with my finger. “Higher. No. Left. No, right. Now lower.” The mustard was stubborn. Phase two involved saliva. I licked my finger and had another run at it. Shelly continued directing “No. Higher. Lower. Higher. Lower.”

    Finally, Shelly gave up and said, “That’s good enough. You got most of it.”


    I don’t mean victory over the mustard spot. Obviously I failed at removing it. It might still be there for all I know. The victory comes from setting the bar so low, for so many years, that Shelly was willing to settle for being in public with a husband who only had some mustard on his ear. It was a great moment. I’ve been working hard to solidify my reputation as incompetent, messy, disorganized, and generally hopeless. This mustard situation proved that my hard work is beginning to pay off.

    Shelly still asks me to pick up things from the store. But I figure I just have to bring home shampoo instead of salad oil about three more times and that will be the end of that.

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