Fine American mayonnaise sets

I have a slight but annoying credibility problem with my ex-wife and no-longer-quite-so-gullible kids – they don’t believe in antique three-piece mayonnaise sets.

Perhaps I should explain.

(Sure, why not?)

During a recent trip to the strategically unimportant Butte County community of Paradise, I joined my ex-wife, daughter and son-in-law during one of my daughter’s favorite weekend pastimes – looking for “weird old stuff” in antique malls.

“C’mon, Dad, maybe they’ve got some crystal flamingos or those little buckets from the old days when people used to milk pigs,” she enthused, dragging me toward a rambling roadside antique labyrinth housing something like 50 tiny shops.

Meandering through the maze, we discovered relics from the 1981 Magalia Donkey Derby, chicken-shaped decanters, chicken-shaped baking dishes and chicken-shaped chicken sculptures that looked surprisingly like, er, chickens…

And, yes, there was the aforementioned and much sought-after crystal flamingo (now part of my daughter’s three-room flamingo collection).

There also were frying pans, several pieces of costume jewelry, horseshoes and a chair which another customer insisted on dragging from room to room for no apparent reason.

The item that caught my eye (which, I should point out, I never actually saw), was located behind a large cardboard sign which proudly proclaimed “THREE-PIECE MAYONNAISE SET!”

Well, I thought, that’s quite a find – not just a mayonnaise set, but an antique three-piece mayonnaise set.

Yessir, I bet our forefathers were mighty proud of their household mayonnaise sets. And the family that had a three-piece mayonnaise set was probably the talk of the town.

I continued wandering through the twisting aisles of the antique emporium until I came upon my family eyeing several hand-painted teacups featuring village scenes from Chipping Ongar, England.

“Hey, did you guys see the antique three-piece mayonnaise set?” I asked innocently.

Three sets of decidedly skeptical eyes turned toward me.

“Daaaad, there’s no such thing as a three-piece mayonnaise set,” my daughter proclaimed.

“Quit telling mayonnaise stories,” my ex-wife added tartly. “Nobody in this family is ever going to fall for one of your goofy stories again. We’ve all heard your tales of vampire ducks and talking Dobermans.”

Despite my protestations of truthfulness, all three shook their heads in disbelief.

I offered to lead them right to the “THREE-PIECE MAYONNAISE SET!” sign, but I must have taken a wrong turn in the convoluted collection of walkways and I was unable to find my way back.

“Some things never change,” sighed my exasperated ex-wife as she led my daughter and son-in-law back outside.

Hey, I know I saw that sign, so if any readers know exactly what a “THREE-PIECE MAYONNAISE SET!” is, feel free to drop me a line, give me a call or send an e-mail.

Help me to regain the trust of my family – and thereby allow me to heap scorn upon them for never having heard of a three-piece mayonnaise set…

Originally published March 16, 2003

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