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Almost a month has passed since I did something so bizarre and sneaky it may take this entire column to explain myself. Couples who have been married for a while might understand, at least I hope so.

The rest of you are invited to have a good laugh.

Even before we were married, I realized Ron is very loyal to the brand name products he grew up with. There was always the same brand of shampoo in his shower and the same type of toothpaste beside the bathroom sink.

Once we were married, I made sure to pick up a tube of Crest at the commissary when he ran out. He insisted on using the regular Crest paste like his mom bought in the 1960s. New improved tartar control gel just wouldn’t do for my man.

Over the years, I’ve continued to do my own thing when it comes to shampoo and other girlie products, but decided to compromise in the kitchen.

I wasn’t such a devoted fan of Hunt’s ketchup that I couldn’t get used to Heinz, and I didn’t notice much of a difference between his preferred Hellmann’s mayonnaise and my Kraft Mayo.

When we spent our first Thanksgiving together and couldn’t even agree which kind of cranberry sauce (bumpy or smooth) to have, we simply served both.

Agreeing to disagree on everything from music to politics hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve never tried to secretly force my tastes upon him until recently.

It was “The Splenda Fiasco” back in January that pushed me over the edge. When I saw the artificial sweetener was half-priced at the commissary, I couldn’t resist picking up three bags.

Stealthily, I slipped it into the house and hid it on the top shelf of our pantry until just the right moment arrived when I could begin mixing sugar and Splenda into a perfect combination the boys and Ron wouldn’t notice.

Much to my amazement, it worked, at least for a couple of weeks when I accidentally added too much Splenda and didn’t shake up the canister well enough.

“Is this sugar?” Ron asked. “This doesn’t look like sugar!” After I admitted he was right, Ron claimed he had noticed weeks ago that something didn’t taste quite right about the sugar.

Yeah, right.

Having said all that, I’m ready to confess to my strangest scheme in years. The only excuse I can come up with is perhaps I’ve grown a teensy bit tired of doing the grocery shopping and then being criticized by every family for either forgetting something or buying the “wrong” thing.

For whatever reason, I replaced Ron’s beloved Hellmann’s mayonnaise with my Kraft Mayo, and he hasn’t noticed yet. That doesn’t sound so ridiculous, I know, until you read the way I made the switch.

When I realized we needed mayonnaise, I bought a jar of Kraft Mayo and carefully spooned it into the almost empty jar of Hellmann’s. Then I noticed the Kraft was a lot whiter than the clinging bits of Hellmann’s.

Taking a spatula and carefully mixing, then shaking the jar for a minute, I produced what looked like a brand new jar of Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

Our family is now on its second jar of “my” mayo and no one has noticed, but it wasn’t as much fun switching jars the second time. Maybe I should move on to bigger challenges when I decide to become rebellious on the home front.

But how am I gonna get the toothpaste back in the tube?

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 16 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at or find the Zichs online at


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