You Put Ketchup on Your Fish Sticks?

I was 7 years old. My sister and I were staying overnight at Aunt Jackie’s and Uncle Dave’s. But I need to give you a brief glimpse of who Dave is…before I get into the fish sticks.

Image courtesy of "Salvatore Vuono" / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of “Salvatore Vuono” / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dave had a sprint car photography biz back then. He had a darkroom in the basement. A dark darkroom. So, every once in a while I would tag alongside him while he developed his photos. Eventually, he taught me how to develop photos in complete darkness. The steps to take, the chemicals to use, the timing, the care, the precision…everything. I thought it was pretty cool. I respected Dave. He was fun. He let me try stuff, ya know?

Dave’s a Vietnam veteran. I think he saw too much. I’d love to ask him about it sometime…but I’m not sure if he’d be up for that.

Dave built cars, raced cars, fixed cars, and adored cars. He always teased my Mom saying he wanted me to drag race. Oh…I could only imagine. I never got into racing though. Mom always said something like, “Over my dead body.” Ha.

Dave was an Air Force recruiter for a while, too. He’d send me photos of awesome jets and bombers from Abilene, Texas, and cover every inch of the back of the photo with all the specs of those planes. I was in heaven. I’d memorize every detail and hang’em on my bedroom wall.

You probably understand by now that Dave did a lot of things. He wasn’t afraid to give something a whirl. To just “go with it”. It’s a quality that works for some, and for others it scares them to death. Some of him probably rubbed off on me…except I’ve really only been dreaming about things…not DOING them. Some day, right?

So, back to the overnight stay. Aunt Jackie made fish sticks. We each had some on our plates. Then, Dave grabs the fat, glass ketchup bottle, globs a pile on his plate and proceeds to dip his fish sticks in ketchup. Immediately, I said, “You put KETCHUP on your fish sticks?!?!?!?!” …with a scrunched up face. Dave said,

“Are these YOUR fish sticks?”

I said, “No.”

He said, “Am I telling you to put ketchup on your fish sticks?”

I said, “No.”

He said, “Then, maybe you shouldn’t worry about it.”

Wow.

I’m 38 years old. And I still remember that exact moment. But why? Was it a shocking event? Was it disastrous or monumental? No. I think there’s some deep, meaningful thing there that might have changed my life just a little bit. Even if it was just steering me a degree or two back towards “the road”…it meant something. Why else would that memory be burned in my brain?

I’m thinking that I was getting to the age where I might need a few extra attitude adjustments. Or “checks” on my mouth. Is THAT moment why I’m more open-minded today? Is it part of the reason I respected my elders growing up and still do today? Or why I don’t judge as harshly as others seem to?

I don’t put all of that “education” on Uncle Dave…my parents did a heck of a job raising a kid that knows the value of hard work, love, and discipline. I’m sure it’s a series of little events from the time we’re toddlers until the day we die…that makes us who we are. I’m glad Uncle Dave participated in a few of my “little moments”.

Whether it’s in your business, your advertising, or in your life…there are things worth worrying about…and there are things that you shouldn’t be throwing such a fuss about. You may be ready to take some leaps of faith, but your friends or family are holding you back. They say it’s too risky. They say you’re a fool. They say that your advertising is too “in your face”. Are you asking THEM to do the things you want to do? Nope.

I say…let’s go ahead and put ketchup on our fish sticks!

That memory floated to the surface a few days ago and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I suppose I was meant to share it then, eh?

Have a great day!

Duane Christensen

Results Radio Townsquare Media

Sioux Falls

Wouldn’t you rather be remembered… instead of a random option among your competition? I help businesses “say it better” in their advertising. Your advertising MESSAGE holds more power than any other element in the advertising “formula”. 

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