<p>This is the essay on the jar of mustard:</p>
<p>I have to admit that thoughts of super-sized jars of mustard havent occupied too much of my thoughts lately. But now that Ive read about it, I cant fathom why anyone would buy a foot-and-a-half-tall jar of a condiment that a normal person uses no more than a couple times a week. Even the restaurant where I work, Friendlys, orders regular-sized containers. One day, Ill get a ride to Costcos and spend the day standing next to the shelf with the now-famous jars of mustard. When a person picks one up, Ill step forward and say: Im conducting a study for the University of Chicago and your input would be very appreciated. Would you please tell me what you intend to do with this abnormally huge jar of mustard? Even though the nearest Costco is almost an hour away from me, Im sure the results will be well worth it. At the very least Ill get this nagging thought out of my head.
Perhaps the first customer will be an enormous mustard lover. In the morning, hell have eggs topped with a layer of mustard. During his lunch break, hell race over to the nearest hotdog stand, where he is a regular customer, and have his usual order. You can probably already know what it is. He can even get a pretzel there when he feels like a snack and dip it in-guess what? mustard! Dinner will be steak covered in mustard and, of course, fries dipped in the same sauce. And if he really loves the stuff, hell have mustard-flavored ice cream with a mustard topping for dessert, as gross as that sounds. Hell go online to check the latest news from the Association of Mustard Lovers (AML), of which he is an avid member. Then hell go to bed, dreaming of foot-and-a-half-tall jars of mustard sold at Costcos
After a half hour wait, the next customer arrives. He has spent the last twenty years trying to find a way to make gold out of common household goods and at last, he thinks he has found the solution. When I see him, hes wearing a white lab coat covered with yellow stains. He rushes into the aisle, bumps into me without an apology and grabs not one, but three super-huge jars of mustard. When I open my mouth to ask him a question, he gives me a blank stare through his thick wire-rimmed glasses and rushes out to the cash register, muttering complicated chemical formulas under his breath. He runs to his old canary-colored car, throws the mustard into the back seat and races to his house. What used to be a living room has been converted into a mad scientists lab. Tables with bottles of chemicals, test tubes, science books and safety goggles cover every available square inch. And by the entrance, there is a huge pile of empty foot-and-a-half-tall jars of mustard sold at Costcos
Some may think that the AML member and the alchemist are crazy. But most people are just as crazy as they are, just not about mustard. Even I am. Thoughts of horses used to occupy my mind from the sound of my alarm clock in the morning to the moment I fell asleep in bed. Every spare minute was spent at the stable, sometimes riding, but most of the time taking care of the horses, cleaning the saddles, or simply talking with other like-minded individuals. My extra money went towards apples, carrots, sugar cubes and horseback riding lessons. The most frequently visited pages on the Internet were those that posted the latest news from the horse world, which I enthusiastically inhabited. At one point, I decided to take vaulting lessons when I didnt even know how to jump onto a standing horse. But after countless practices and nearly getting trampled several times, I mastered some pretty difficult maneuvers at a trot and even canter. Tragedy struck when my favorite Arabian stallion got a tendon injury that was nearly impossible to cure. I did everything within my powers to help. I would pour cold water from a hose onto his legs, 30 minutes each for a total of two hours. Before someone else took him out for a lesson, I would wrap his legs with my own polo wraps. Every book that contained even a sentence on the condition was obtained and read thoroughly. I bought countless creams and leg ointments in the hope that one of them would produce the desired effect. Unfortunately, the leg never got any better, although while I was there, it didnt get any worse either. Like the crazy alchemist, I never found the magical formula. Everybody at that time told me that the leg was incurable, but I persisted. Less than a year ago, I picked up a copy of an equine veterinary magazine and found a huge article on the same condition. New treatments were now available that could work over several years. So the leg was curable after all! Its only thanks to the extremes of human imagination that our race has gotten to where it is today, namely insane people that keep showing up at odd times in history. This world depends on them.</p>