Don’t become the victim of an unprovoked gravy ambush

Wait! There’s nothing wrong with your computer monitor! It’s just Flashback Sunday! Which is when we go back in time and feature a column from the past, back when I thought “Freshly Pressed” was an annual report of steamroller fatalities. However, given that this is Cinco de Mayo, you could be having an entirely different kind of flashback experience, depending on how much tequila you have already consumed. Either way, I’m glad you’re here. But if you start to feel nauseous, please face away from your monitor — which is something regular readers of this blog already know, regardless of what day of the week it is…

Maintaining “situational awareness” is key to preventing yourself from becoming the victim of a gravy ambush.
Admittedly, the closest I have been to an actual military “hot zone” was when, on a grey August day in 1977, my Cub Scout troop was deployed to sell candy on the same block as the Girl Scouts. Our prime objective was Hilltop Road, which was a critical strategic vector. At least in terms of foot traffic.

Because our troop transport had overheated in the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru, the Girl Scouts had already claimed the high ground next to a busy movie theater. Outnumbered and without tactical advantage, we implemented our most effective defensive strategy, which was to form a tight perimeter directly behind 200-pound Billy Schlependorf.

This quickly turned to chaos as we were overrun by a swarm of green berets and brown knee-highs, forcing us to retreat in a hail of Thin Mints and stale marshmallows. The last thing I remember was stepping on a well-thrown “ants-on-a-log” that sent me headfirst into a three-foot-tall Darth Vader waiting in line to see Star Wars.

So, because of this common bond of courage under fire, it was no surprise when my friend, who is a fellow firefighter and a soldier with two tours in Iraq, confided in me that he had recently been attacked in his own kitchen — by leftover Thanksgiving gravy.

Let me set the scene:


That’s right. According to my friend, who asked not to be named, and who I will respectfully refer to only as “Sean” or “Sgt. Connor” but never as “Sgt. Sean Connor,” the gravy boat in question had been in the back of his refrigerator waiting to ambush him since last November.

This is not uncommon. I actually have a Tupperwear dish with guacamole from Cinco De Mayo 2001 that became self-aware in 2009, and who I now claim on my tax return as an 11-year-old Mexican exchange student named Guaca Jole Mole.

I have never been attacked by Guaca. But if that ever happens, trust me: He’s out of there.

Anyway, getting back to The Great Gravy Ambush …

While reaching for what I’m sure was a healthy snack of carrot sticks or high-fiber yogurt, “Sean’s” fingers came into contact with the enemy, in the form of a harmless gravy boat filled with what he called a “dark brown, meteorite-like substance.”

Being a take-charge kind of guy, and due to his reflexive hand-to-hand combat training — and because his wife had asked him to clean out the gravy boat 10 months ago — he instinctively grabbed a butter knife and plunged it into what he described in technical combat terms as a “dried gravy crevasse.”

It was in that moment, while locked in a struggle to dislodge the rock-like gravy, that he cut his finger on the razor-like edge of the crevasse as he forced it down the garbage disposal. Showing no mercy, he started the disposal and immediately came under heavy fire from “gravy shrapnel” flying across the kitchen. Dropping into a low-crawl, he assessed his “tactical situation,” and concluded that if the new kitchen cabinets got scratched by flying gravy debris, he should probably just keep crawling onto a busy highway.

But this is a man who has led other men into battle!

[begin exciting slow-motion action sequence]:

Crouched on the floor, he took a deep breath and dove toward the countertop, gravy shrapnel whizzing past him as he simultaneously — and in mid air — scanned the row of switches, finding the disposal and slamming his injured finger down on it, effectively taking out the enemy.

Ok, so the first switch was actually the kitchen fan.

… Then the sink light.

… Then the pantry light.

The point is, it doesn’t matter how many switches it took; all that matters is that the disposal switch is now painted RED.

With Thanksgiving less than two months away, I hope “Sean’s” story will help prevent others from falling victim to a similar type of gravy ambush.

And hey — Don’t even get me started on Girl Scout cookies …

(You can write to Ned at, or Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore. 97439)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

33 thoughts on “Don’t become the victim of an unprovoked gravy ambush”

        1. Funny you mention this because it just popped up in my Reader! Thanks for thinking of me, and I feel privileged to be among “your firsts.” Cheers!

    1. Yep, I reserve Sundays for “flashbacks,” which was a suggestion from one of my followers. I dig out old posts from when I first started, back when I had just a few regular blog readers. People seem to like it, and it’s fun for me, too. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with me!

  1. sweet mother of god.. i was laughing so hard at the gravy imagination so vivid…i see this as a scene in a romantic comedy..HYSTERICAL..

    1. Thanks so much! My friend is a large guy, with years spent in the military and with the police department before becoming a firefighter. So listening to him tell his story, and knowing his combat experiences, my imagination had a field day. It takes a big man to admit being outflanked by a gravy boat 🙂

  2. I’m not sure which scenario I’m surprised by more: 1. The fact that your Boy Scout troop actually thought they could outsell the Girl Scouts, or 2. The fact that gravy shrapnel could do such damage. Perhaps my best bet is to walk away dreaming of Thin Mint cookies. That, or I could go rummaging through my own fridge as a preventative measure. Good stuff, Ned!

    1. LOL! Thanks, Anka 🙂 If I can save just one person from being ambushed by gravy, it will have been worth the pain of re-living “The Girl Scout Incident.”

  3. Thanks for this sublime lunacy, Ned … it reminded me to take out Old Father Carrot from the dark reaches of the salad drawer.

    He put up quite a fight and I took a nasty wound from a boulder of rock hard Cheddar when he launched it at me. But I mastered the pain and grabbed the little sucker by his foot long beard (so okay, they were roots) and woman-handled him into the rubbish bin. The lid is weighted down with a brick until the refuse men come.

    I would be glad to read more of such useful hygiene tips if you have them 🙂

    1. LOL! I’ve seen Veggie-Tales, so I know what angry vegetables can do. I’m just glad you’re OK. Thanks for the heads-up. If I drive by a garbage can with a brick on top, I’ll know to leave it alone 😉

  4. ah brings back such sweet memories of finding the backup giant vat of green bean casserole, left in the garage refrigerator, on a cold thanksgiving. problem was, we forgot about it and found it the following thanksgiving, when we went to the same fridge to store backup sweet potato casserole, only to find last year’s treat. oh, and they then mentioned that the fridge hadn’t worked in months which could explain why no one found it in the meantime.

  5. HOLY GRAVY!! I just laughed so long that my co-workers here might start to think I need medication. Thank you so much for making my days here at work so much lighter. I have been fortunate to never have any food take a life of it’s own… well, none that I will touch, I usually send my father in to clean any future mutations in the fridge before my mother notices that the fish has grown limbs and is going through a zombie like evolution.
    Spectacularly funny depiction of Sgt. Connor. 🙂

    1. LOL! Hey there, stranger 🙂 You know, I think I saw that fish you were talking about, but it was a sticker on the back of someone’s car. Your father sounds like a brave man. My oldest daughter is graduating high school next month, and knowing her cleaning habits (none) I’m sure I’ll be called to wrestle a giant mutant hot dog at some point! I hope your job is going well, and I’m glad I can still give you a chuckle or two while you’re there! I won’t tell anyone… shhhhhhhhh

      1. haha, my dad is a very brave man 🙂 he still comes running to me when I scream at the site of a cockroach, and squishes it with his bare hands not matter the size, lol. I hope your daughter has you close by so that you may come if/when that hotdog decides to use the bun as a portable home 🙂 And thanks for keeping me in stitches, and not telling 😉

  6. This was made for me. I just had an Encounter of the Alien Kind with a wetvac that hadn’t been emptied since the last use……months ago. There was a greyish mucoid life form that smelled like old socks, rotten fish, cat vomit and mold all rolled into one. I should have marketed that smell, drove everyone screaming from the room. So thank you for the funny moment!

    1. Yikes! It sounds like my friend’s refrigerator and your Wet-Vac could have a classic, monster movie showdown, like Godzilla and Ghidra 🙂

          1. I just snorted with laughter… 🙂 I should have kept them, no one will believe me. I actually think they were having amoeba sex when I discovered them. One oozed over the other and they both slimed to the opposite corners…..

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