Ellis Goodwyn

writer. farmer. mother. teacher

This was my alternative story for the NYC Midnight flash fiction contest. I ended up submitting the goat one, but this was fun to write as well.

Festival of MADness

Mayonnaise (noun)

  1. a thick creamy dressing consisting of egg yolks beaten with oil and vinegar
  2. the bane of my existence

Mountain View was known for only one thing: the Mayonnaise Festival. A small town far enough from any major roadway that no one ever just happened to be driving by or even accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up there. The only thing that brought anyone other than townsfolk to our neck of the woods was The Mayonnaise Festival.

Every year on the third Saturday in May. All the citizens came together in the town square to partake in the fun. The mayonnaise bake sale, the sampling of all manner of pasta, potato, egg and chicken salads, watching the kids run around the May-onnaise pole and for the closing ceremony: the crowning of the Mayonnaise Queen.

This year, the mayor had a special event in store for all the attendees. At the end of the day, the newly crowned Mayonnaise Queen would have the honor of cutting the ribbon to celebrate the opening of Mayonnaise Park, complete with a twenty foot tall anthropomorphic Mayonnaise jar statue waving at city hall across the street.

It’s the day I’ve dreaded all year, every year since the first time I tasted the hallowed condiment because…I hated it. To me, it was the most disgusting food ever created. Avoiding it for most of the year may have been tricky, but it was possible. Not so today. Today I’d have dishes full of it thrust upon me at every turn.

“I have a good feeling it might be your year.” Sheryl, the town gossip and cafe owner, winked at me from behind the counter before pouring my coffee.

I attempted to smile back but must have been unsuccessful judging by her creased brow.

“What’s wrong Liv? Don’t tell me you’re getting sick on the big day.”

“No, I’m fine.” I lied. 

I couldn’t pretend to be sick again. I’d already had the flu, shingles, and rocky mountain spotted fever the past several years, conveniently contracted a day or two before Mayonnaise Appreciation Day—MAD for short. 

“Thanks for the coffee!” I headed out the door before she could interrogate me further.

Most of the day went off without a hitch: I managed to avoid most of the unwanted mayonnaise interactions by continually moving about the square, constantly pretending to be on my way to speak to someone else. It was exhausting, but worth it.

By five, it looked like I’d safely made it through another MAD with my palate unscathed. Then I got ambushed by Mayor Donagey while trying to sneak into the library.

“There you are, Olivia! I’ve been looking all over for you to tell you the great news.”

No. Please, no.

“You’re the new Mayonnaise Queen!”

I plastered on a fake smile and waved both my hands in mock excitement. “Yay.”

After standing on stage for the crowning, I did my best to smile while using the huge scissors to cut the ribbon in front of the giant statue. The only thing left was for me to take the first bite of pie. The tomato and mayonnaise pie. What horrible excuse for a human being would create such an assault to taste buds everywhere? 

As the pie came closer, my stomach churned. Bile burned in my chest. I took a deep breath. 

I can do this. It’s just one bite…One bite of the most vile substance to ever cross my lips.

I closed my eyes and brought the fork to my mouth, certain I was about to vomit in front of the entire town, possibly on the mayor himself. 

Dropping the fork and shaking my head, I turned to the mayor. “I’m so sorry! I can’t do this.” 

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Someone else should be queen.”

His brow furrowed. “What? Why?”

“I-I don’t know how to tell you this, but…”

“Come on, it can’t be that bad. Just say whatever’s bothering you.” 

I decided ripping the bandaid off was best, and blurted out, “I hate mayonnaise!”

“What? Since when?”

I hung my head. “Since always.”


“I’m sorry. I know I’m letting everyone down.” I peered out at the crowd which had been shocked into silence. 

But after a moment, Mercy Tarkington’s small, brittle voice echoed through the quiet square, “I don’t like it either.”

Just as everyone turned toward her, another voice piped up: Carson Black, the mechanic. “I can’t stand it.”

“Me, too” and “I hate it.” Rang out all around the square.

I stood there dumbfounded while one by one every local shouted their own confessions. 

“But…you all come every year. You bring your jars of mayonnaise for the mayonnaise eating contest.”

Mercy broke the silence once again. “Mine’s Greek yogurt.”

Followed by Curtis Blackman. “Sour cream with a bit of food coloring”

 “Butter and cream cheese,” added Lucy Wilson.

This was too much. 

“Does anyone here actually like mayonnaise?” I scanned the crowd for a single hand.

Finally, little Marjorie Pierson stuck her tiny hand up. “I like Miss Betty’s.”

Betty’s cheeks flushed a bright pink, and her face broke into a sheepish grin. “It’s vanilla pudding.”

I laughed. A sense of relief shot through every muscle that had been tense a moment before. “We’re having a mayonnaise festival where no one likes it, and we’re all eating fake mayonnaise?” 

I turned to Mayor Donagey who shrugged back.

“So what about this guy? I jerked a thumb at the twenty foot tall waving mayonnaise jar smiling out at everyone. And what about the festival?”

“Hmm.” The mayor studied the giant jar for a minute, rubbing his chin, before turning back to the crowd. “How does everyone feel about peanut butter?”

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