Harper’s Ferry and the Case of the Exploding Ketchup Bottle


I took a day off to go enjoy some of the historical sights in the area.  Well, actually, I took the day to extend the weekend by a day and therefore preserve some of my sanity.  Not sure if it worked, but I did have fun.  We decided to head into West Virginia and go see Harper’s Ferry, best known for being a harbinger of the Civil War, because of the religiously fanatical abolitionist John Brown, who attacked the town’s Armory in 1859.

After spending an inordinate amount of time in the book shop, exploring some small museums on industry in the Civil War, and reading about the adventures of Lewis and Clark, we felt raindrops falling on our heads.  Harper’s Ferry’s historic district has a plethora of eateries, and although it seemed to have mostly ice cream shops,  we did find a quaint little bar and grill and opted to dine there while hopefully riding the storm out (or whatever rain decided to fall).  We walked into the place and followed the signs up the impossibly narrow wooden stairs made for people who only grew to be about four feet tall.  The waitress peeked out of the back room and took our orders.

I suppose I should have been sufficiently warned by the bottle of Tobasco sauce sitting on the table.  Or at least, a bottle of foggy-looking separated brown and clear liquid in a bottle with a Tobasco label….  Giving the place the benefit of the doubt, we ordered fish & chips and I dove into the basket of fried food as soon as it arrived.  After devouring the cole slaw and part of the fish, I reached for the ketchup bottle for the fries.  Out of habit, and probably my subconscious reaction to the separated Tobasco, I shook the bottle of ketchup before opening.  Ok, so I TRIED to open it.  As soon as I applied a very slight amount of pressure to the flip-top cap, the bottle quite literally exploded in my hand and highly pressurized red goo flew out of the remains at an accelerated rate and ended its noble journey making me look like an ax murderer who forgot to put on protective clothing first.  I don’t think all bottles of Hunts Ketchup explode, though.  I think this particular establishment used condiments way past their “best if used by” dates.  Although I could be wrong…

After something sounding really close to “CHEESE AND RICE!!!” came out of my mouth, the waitress’s only suggestion was to use a bottle of ketchup less full and not to shake it up first.  No other concessions, offer of club soda to get it out of my clothes, nothing.  Not even a token discount off the check.  And contrary to my normal M.O., I did NOT want to leave a 20% tip.  But Thomas talked me into it.  He fessed up later and said he laughed so much when I went into the bathroom to clean myself up that he thought the entertainment value was worth a few bucks.




  1. Glad you took a historical study of john brown. Those that do not learn from it will repeat it. How will you learn from the ketchup.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s