With a jackhammer like motion, Bob ran a large knife from one end of a cutting board to the other. Tiny brown and yellow pebbles bounced in all directions.
“There, see?” Bob said.
“You’re not so much cutting as crunching,” Woodruff replied.
“They are cut.”
“More like smashed.”
“Well this is impossible.”
“I told you so.”
Bob laid the knife on top of the sea of little seeds and threw up his hands.
“If you can’t cut the mustard, then how does anything actual cut the mustard?”
“Because it’s just an expression, Bob.”
“Expressions come from somewhere though,” Bob said. “There has to be a way.”
“Well, we’ve tried yellow mustard, mustard paste, mustard plants, and now mustard seeds.”
“I still say I cut that mustard plant.”
“Right, but how is that different from cutting a stalk of broccoli?” Woodruff said. “The expression is ‘doesn’t cut the mustard’. There’s got to be something that sets mustard apart.”
“What about poupon?”
“What about it?”
“Grey Poupon is a mustard, we could cut that.”
“How’s Grey Poupon different than yellow mustard?”
Woodruff shook his head and looked on his friend with derision and disbelief.
“How did we even start down this path?”
“We were discussing who would win in a fight between a Griffin and a Liger,” Bob said. “While the answer is clearly a Griffin, you said that a Griffin is mythical while a Liger is real and therefore the Liger would win by default.”
“Which is true.”
“I said that a Buzzfeed poll had the Griffin winning fifty-three percent to forty-seven. You said that in terms of social science a qualitative poll doesn’t cut the mustard due to sampling bias.”
“Oh right,” Woodruff said. “Well it doesn’t.”
“So then, smart guy, how does one cut the mustard?”
“IT’S AN EXPRESSION!” Woodruff threw his hands in the air, as if he were signaling a successful field goal.
“Fine,” Bob said. “No need to get upset. Let’s just go.”
Woodruff and Bob left the cutting board in the back room and headed for the lobby.
“Thanks again, Hank.” Bob saluted the security guard seated behind the desk.
“Any time Bobby,” Hank replied and returned the salute.
“Tell Barb we said hello,” Woodruff added.
“Will do. Give my best to Kenny.”
“You got it.”
Bob stepped into the triangular opening and gave the revolving door a push. He stopped suddenly just as Woodruff’s compartment was enclosed by the wall.
“What if we freeze it?” Bob asked through the glass partition.
“What?” Woodruff said pushing against the stopped door. “Move!”
Bob turned and pushed the door forward at a run. The rate of speed for the door made it difficult for Woodruff to escape the roulette death trap and he was forced to keep pace with the circulating doorway.
“We could freeze the mustard and then cut it,” Bob said as he ran against the glass door as fast as he could.
“Okay, fine,” Woodruff said, struggling to keep up. “That will work. Can we stop this thing? I wanna get off.”
The revolutions of the door slowed to a stop as Bob and Woodruff tumbled outside. Woodruff fell on his back, looking up at the National Mustard Museum sign above the revolving door. Bob stagger forward and took a seat on the top step, next to the fallen Woodruff.
“We can cut the mustard,” Bob said with a smile.
Woodruff closed his eyes and waited for his world to stop spinning.
“Why are you the way you are?”
“My mom says it’s because I was born under a blue moon.”
A red and yellow wienermobile drove up to the museum and parked in front of the steps. Woodruff sat up and looked down at the hotdog-shaped vehicle.
“I could eat.”
They descended the steps and walked up to the side window of the oversize hotdog van.
“Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?”
The pimply faced young man in the van cocked his head sideways and stared back at Bob with his mouth agape.
“Ignore him,” Woodruff said. “We’d like two hotdogs.”
“Did you really not get that reference?” Bob asked the young man with the hotdog-shaped hat.
“Uh, what reference?”
“Grey Poupon,” Bob said. “You know, the commercial?”
“Um, the only thing I poop on is a toilet and that’s white.”
“Not poop on, poupon.”
“Really, just ignore him,” Woodruff said. “It’s better for everyone.”
“Grey Poupon Dijon.”
“Not who, what,” Bob said. “It’s mustard.”
“Oh, um, yeah, we’ve got that,” the young man pulled out a bright yellow bottle with red letters.
“That’s yellow mustard. Dijon is a spicy mustard.”
“This is all we’ve got.”
“He doesn’t even want spicy mustard. He just likes to make obscure references.”
“How do you know I don’t want spicy mustard?”
“Well, do you?”
“No,” Bob answered timidly. “But you didn’t know that.”
“Two hot dogs, please,” Woodruff said to the young man. “Ketchup and mustard.”
“No ketchup for me.”
“You don’t want ketchup.”
“I don’t eat ketchup.”
“I’ve seen you eat ketchup.”
“I don’t eat ketchup anymore.”
“Since I watched that documentary on the tomato industry, Our Big Red Shame,” Bob said. “The way they tried those poor tomatoes is inhumane.”
“To a tomato?”
“You’re one of those heartless tomato eaters aren’t you?”
“So are you!”
“You are telling me that you object to ketchup on the moral ground that tomatoes are treating inhumanely?”
“If it’s bruised or mooshy it just gets tossed aside like garbage.”
“If it’s ripe, it gets eaten.”
“I knew it! Tomato eater!” Bob pointed an accusing finger at Woodruff.
“So you won’t eat a tomato in any form?”
“What about spaghetti?”
“I take my pasta with alfredo sauce.”
“Pesto is better.”
“You can eat what you like, I’ll have my hotdog without cruelty sauce.”
The pimply faced young man handed over two hotdogs, one with ketchup and one without. Woodruff licked at the ketchup on top of his hotdog and took a deliberating large bite while staring directly at Bob.
“How can you live with yourself?”
“Do you have any extra ketchup packets back there?” Woodruff asked the young man in the wienervan.
He handed over a couple of ketchup packets and Woodruff tore them open with his teeth. Ketchup oozed out onto his chin and dripped onto his shirt.
“You’re an animal.”
“Do I have tomato blood on my face?”
“I’ve lost my appetite.”
Bob dropped his hotdog on the pavement and walked away.
“Where are you going?” Woodruff called. “What’s to-ma-toe with you?”
Woodruff wiped the ketchup from his chin with a mischievous grin. He licked his fingers and devoured the remains of his hotdog. As the Wienermobile pulled away Woodruff bent down over Bob’s hotdog. He glanced to either side and, when he was sure no one was looking, scooped up the discarded dog and brushed some dirt off the end. Woodruff took a bite and jogged after Bob with a ketchupless hotdog in hand.