Katie Quander
Most people are afraid of normal things. Heights, for example, or snakes are two things
that make total sense to be scared of. I mean, both of them can kill you, so it seems reasonable
to avoid them. My biggest fear, on the other hand, makes absolutely no sense. I can’t even
explain why. It’s not as though I didn’t group up with ketchup—I was accustomed to having ketchup
around—and it wasn’t that I had any traumatic experiences as a young child with ketchup that scared
me off. Yet, for as long as I can remember, I have hated this thing to the point of fearing it.
Ketchup just makes me so…uncomfortable.

I hate ketchup.

Most people can accept my fear with little to no skepticism, but there are some that feel
personally offended by my fear. With them, I am forced to go into the whole spiel of why ketchup
is a food created by the Devil himself. Their next questions are typically the following: “You
don’t like ketchup on anything?” or “Well, when was the last time you tried it?” My answers are
always the same: “No” and “That doesn’t matter.” I eat my cheeseburgers plain and dry. The
same goes with hot dogs. Fries are best when you can actually taste the salt instead of being
coated in red hot “sauce,” if you can even call it that. No one can convince me voluntarily to eat
ketchup, and it’s not even a matter of just eating the stuff.

I hate how it looks. It’s red, bright red, too red for anything coming out of a bottle. There’s
also the consistency that is just, to put it kindly, disturbing. The smell, I honestly can’t comment
on due to the fact that I avoid it enough to not even know the smell. If I was ever close enough
to smell the gooey liquid, I would legitimately have a panic attack and start crying. It may sound
ridiculous, but watching other people eat something with ketchup even makes my stomach flip
just a little. I genuinely feel sick at this moment writing about ketchup in such detail.
One time my brother Jack and I were washing the dishes after dinner.
We had homemade cheeseburgers.
One plate still had some ketchup on it, so I kindly asked Jack to clean that plate. He noticed the
ketchup, knowing about fear, decided to rake up the condiment on his finger, and chased me
around my kitchen holding out his ketchup-infested fingers. I was terrified. Some may think I
was being ridiculous, but to me, it was a red alert evacuation plan. This event also happened
to occur while I was fifteen, my brother eighteen. To say the very least, I don’t like ketchup.
Don’t even get me started on peanut butter.
Katie Quander is a 17-year-old from Houston, Texas in her junior year of high school. Outside of writing, she enjoys photography, dance, and cheerleading. Her poem, "Role Models," was published in Teen Ink in addition to her school's literary magazine, Falcon Wings. Additionally, her short story, "Black to Basic and Back" is published in the anthology, "Black Girl, White School," which is a #1 Amazon New Release.

"Ketchup and potato wedges" by John Linwood is marked with CC BY-ND 2.0. To view the terms, visit
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