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Sunday, June 2, 2024
Wait! Did you read
Go read it now.
The next day after work, I found myself (purposefully) in Central Square, Cambridge. It was approximately 5:40pm. It was time to buy a salt shaker. How hard could it be? (Remember, reader, the salt shaker pictured in Part 1 is from Venice.)
My first stop was at the art supply store. I thought they might have some sort of salt shaker crafting kit thing. Did they? No. Does such a thing even exist? Who knows. Should it? Maybe...
I was too embarrassed to ask for help. I scoured the aisles. I passed an employee twice. "Do you need any help?" she asked. I did need help, obviously. "No thanks," I said. "I'm good." I wasn't good. I hurried out.
Stop number two made more sense, but was no more successful: a local thrift shop. They had a whole section for household goods in the front corner. I stood there for several minutes, letting my eyes adjust to the store's darkness and trying to discern what strange assortment of objects sat on the shelves. It reminded me of doing an I Spy puzzle, searching for four blue bunnies with such ferocious intent that the rest of the things in the puzzle are reduced to an incomprehensible blur. Everything was either a bunny or not a bunny, salt shaker or not salt shaker. It was a store full of not salt shakers. There was a nice pepper grinder though, so the end of my search seemed tantalizingly within reach. But they don't iodize black pepper (should they?). I left.
I should mention here that I grew up in a home rich in salt shakers. There was one silver one that my mother had borrowed from a fancy restaurant where she had worked in college. The top half was a salt shaker and the bottom half was a pepper grinder. Besides this one, there were several matching pairs of salt and pepper shakers: hugging bears, pigs (not hugging), Santa and an elf (also not hugging; for Christmas), colorful eggs (for Easter), a pair of pumpkins (for--oh, you get it), ...
I'm making it seem like these salt and pepper shakers were a big part of my childhood, that my family was weird about or like obsessed with them, but honestly, I assure you, it wasn't really a thing. We were normal about them. They were a simple fact of life.
But so now I had been cast harshly into cruel, un-iodized adulthood. And so, of course, given this resplendent upbringing, I had high expectations of my first salt shaker. I wanted something with personality, with verve, with a story. That is why my first stop was the arts supply store. Does it make sense now? Do you not now comprehend the delicate machinations of my mind? Should a salt shaker not be more than a mere shaker of salt?!
My third stop was the camping goods store. I had lost my social anxiety somewhere in the thrift shop. I walked straight to the counter, only stopping briefly to check the price of hiking socks (too high). I told the man at the counter the object of my quest. With only a slight hesitation, he pulled a salt shaker from the wall behind him. It was designed for backpacking trips, he explained. I examined it. It could probably have held three, maybe four grains of salt.
I told the man that I was looking for something bigger. He said that this was the only one they had and to maybe try the hardware store down the block. But, alas, it was now 5:58pm. I would never make it before they closed.
Dejected, I trudged across the street into Target.
Fine, I'll settle for a boring one for now, but keep my eyes peeled for one with more personality,
I thought. In the spice aisle, the only salt shaker available was the kind that is impossible to refill. I didn't want to have to buy a new one every few months. I went into the basement to check the kitchen section (the Target basement, not my own (it's one of those tiny city Targets with two floors of products that aren't the ones you need)). No luck in the basement.
How far has our society plunged into madness for an honest man to be unable to purchase a reasonably-sized, refillable salt shaker, perhaps one in the shape of a whimsical woodland creature?! And why did all the stores except Target close at 6pm? What is wrong with this world?
Deep in thought, I walked home, scratching my head as I went.