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Monday, June 24, 2024
Hold your horses! Did you read
Go read it now.
Nine days after I shattered the Goodwill salt shaker (and my dreams of easy iodization with it), some friends and I took a weekend trip to New York City. On Saturday night, we got dinner in Chinatown and then, just the slightest bit tipsy from our Tsingtaos, we began walking uptown towards Little Italy to our next activity. On the southern limits of Little Italy is one of those I <3 NY souvenir shops. Its blazing white LED lights beckoned from across the street.
"Hey," I said. "Do you guys mind if we stop at that store? I need a salt shaker."
I may or may not have already explained the whole situation to one or more of these friends, but before I could start, the pedestrian signal changed. "There's no time to explain!" I exclaimed.
I don't know what I love more: taking a really long time to explain something (q.v. this blog series) or saying "Quick! There's no time to explain!"
My friends were happy enough to go poke around in the store without an explanation.
Miraculously, one friend found a salt shaker in the back of the store. He called me over excitedly. The store's proprietors, meanwhile, were trying to convince one of the native New Yorkers to buy a t-shirt. It wasn't going well.
The souvenir salt shaker was shaped like a yellow taxi. It was great--unique, full of personality, whimsical enough, not cracked or grimy, and able to hold more than two grains of salt. The only problem was that it came in a set with a pepper shaker. The whole package cost $29.99. I didn't want the pepper shaker (black pepper is my least favorite spice and, by the way, is entirely undeserving of its esteemed place on the American dinner table). $30 seemed like a steep price for just a salt shaker. Besides, it had been some time since my quest began and my skill at pouring salt from the 1-pound container was slowly improving. At this point, I was willing to be picky. I got the attention of one of the store's employees and asked if I could just buy the salt shaker for $15.
He refused in a way that suggested he was unwilling to negotiate. On the other side of the store, the t-shirt discussion was growing more heated. It was time to leave.
The next morning, I got brunch with two other friends, ones that hadn't been there the previous night. I hadn't seen them in a long time. We greeted each other enthusiastically.
"Hello! Long time no see," I said. "How have you been?"
"I know!" said Sharanya. "I've been good!"
"Yes, so good to see you," said Brianne. "How have you been?"
"Great question," I said. "Let's decide what to eat first."
We ordered and then I told them the whole long story about my scalp and the salt and all the rest. We talked about other things too, I'm sure.
After we finished eating, I asked them if they had plans for the rest of the day. They didn't and my train wasn't for another few hours. They agreed to come along and help me find a salt shaker.
Looking back now, we definitely didn't plan this part very well. We only made it to two thrift shops and one of those was actually a vintage store, entirely devoid of any sort of household goods. We probably should have gone to a more thrift-shop-dense neighborhood. If only, if only. Needless to say, I did not find a salt shaker. Alas, alas, alas.
The salt shaker was by now starting to become more abstract. It was now less of a quest and more of an activity, something to do with friends. I clearly didn't want one
badly... One wonders if Ahab really wanted to catch the whale... Was he really just looking for something to kill time, an excuse to hang out with Queequeg? I don't know; I haven't read the book.
Stay tuned for Part 5, the thrilling conclusion, coming soon to a theater near you.