Herald Journal Columns
June 12, 2006, Herald Journal

Bring out the best

“Bring out the Hellmann’s, and bring out the best.”

Before you skip my column in search of columnists who are not stuck on themselves, understand that this is not a proclamation of self-evaluated worth.

(In other words, I’m not spraining my shoulder by patting myself on the back too hard.)

The simple phrase above is a little jingle for Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

While there is no relation between my family and the company that produces those white blobs of pure cholesterol (unless you buy the light version, of course), I owe them one. Or do they owe me?

Most people recognize my last name because it is the name of a popular condiment.

You would think this would help people spell the name. Not so. There are two ‘n’s, people!

But apparently your mind is not in spelling mode when writing out your grocery list.

I can just imagine.

“Honey, put mayo on the list.”

“OK. But how do you spell Hellmann’s? Is it one ‘n’ or two?”

“Oh, my. I don’t know.”

“We should check when we get to the store.”

“Good idea.”

If only we lived in such a caring world.

I suppose there are dozens of grocery lists floating around right now looking for a condiment that doesn’t exist: Hellman’s mayonnaise.

Even though the popular food item didn’t help me out with the spelling of my name, I sure met some clever people.

If you have a name that is easily given to a particular nickname, or worse yet, an embarrassing childhood experience that has branded you for life with a nickname, you know what I am talking about.

People who meet you call you the same thing you’ve heard for years, only they think they are the first to come up with it.

I’ll be sitting in the break room at a new job, scratch that, working intensely at a new job, and “that guy” will come bouncing through the room and bubbly exclaim; “What’s up, Mayo?”

Not the most amazing display of wit I’ve ever encountered, but I’ll smile, knowing that he has no idea how many have come before him.

Now that you know my dramatic attachment to mayo, which has really done nothing for me, except add a tangy zip to my turkey sandwich, I suppose I should get to the real reason I’m writing this column.

The last line of the Hellmann’s jingle does more than just round out a catchy tune.

Recently, I was reading a dieting article that talked about choosing the best, just like Hellmann’s beckons you to ‘bring out the best.’

The advice in the article was simple and refreshing.

The lady who wrote it had been trying diet after diet for years. She usually had initial success with each one, but in the long run, always ended up right back where she started.

Then, she would try another diet, and the cycle would start all over.

Until one day, her friend advised her to stop all the diets, and simply choose the best choice of the options that were available.

It sounds so unbelievably simple in this age of extremes.

You mean you don’t have to eat a whole cow at every meal and swear off all forms of bread forever?

How radical.

If you go out to eat, just choose the best thing off the menu. Something satisfying, yet healthy.


But, as her friend advised her, it applies to more than just food.

With so many options available, do we choose something just because we can?

Do we sit through a summer blockbuster plot as thin as the cushion on our seats, just because we want to go see a movie?

Or could we spend a little more money to see a critically-acclaimed presentation at the Ordway?

It doesn’t have to be that extreme, especially if your idea of the arts transports you back to finger painting with chocolate pudding in kindergarten.

(At least you got to eat pudding instead of glue during craft time that day.)

Thinking about all the choices we make every day, and if we are choosing the best available option, can really alter one’s perspective.

Will it be better for me to get up 15 minutes earlier and tie up some annoying odds and ends that have been sitting on my desk for months, or do I hit the snooze button five or six times, only to be late for work and behind the eight ball again?

(That thing is just relentless – I feel your pain Indiana Jones.)

These decisions seem small, a meal here and a movie there, but those mundane events inevitably make up what we call our lives.

For example, pretend you are going to get a tattoo (and pretend you are in your right mind – I personally have never found the thought of having my skin drilled with an ink-stained needle appealing.)

Imagine you are standing in front of two tattoo parlors (not likely, but maybe you’re in Vegas.)

One looks very nice and clean, the lights are bright, and two young women come walking out smiling and talking about how it “wasn’t so bad.”

The other parlor is dark inside. Suddenly, you hear a piercing scream, which is soon muffled. A couple minutes later, a large, burly man dressed in leather comes staggering out, muttering something about learning vowels as tears stream down his cheeks.

As he drives away on his Harley, “I love Susin” is freshly tattooed on the back of his neck. (And I thought I had problems with people misspelling my name.)

Now, it is time to make your choice, based on the information available.

Silly as this example is, it’s important to keep that phrase from the mayonnaise commercial in mind – and bring out the best in your life.

Tattoos are permanent, and so are the everyday actions that set your path for life – choose wisely.

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