There is (of course) a story behind the salt shaker on my kitchen counter.
It was an unintentional wedding gift, given to me on my wedding night inside a carton of french fries.
After our wedding was through, and the band had packed up, and nearly every guest had been carried away by pumpkin at midnight, Joe and I looked around the ski lodge where our reception had just taken place in a stardust swirl of bliss and we realized, we had no ride back to our hotel.
My cousin Cory and his wife Krystle, always the last to leave a party, were still milling around as we packed up leftover favors and the last of my mother’s centerpieces.
They offered to drive us in their Hummer.
So, around midnight we piled into our off-road chariot and set about a short ride to the hotel.
I was starving.
We were in a small ski town town with very few late-night grub options. As lovely as our hotel was, there would be no caviar and champagne delivered on a silver platter to our door at 1 a.m. Cory and Krystal reminded of us of this.
“We’ll go get you something from the bar up the road,” Krystle chirped.
“That’s totally unnecessary,” I said, even though I was salivating at the idea.
“No. Seriously. We will. I remember we were starving on our wedding night,” she said. “All I wanted was greasy bar food.”
Cory concurred. Even my cousin John, who was sitting in the back of the Hummer, refused to take no for an answer.
“What do you want?” John asked.
Joe and I exchanged glances and graciously took them up on the offer.
Joe placed an order for a hamburger and I requested chicken fingers.
“Done,” Cory said, pulling up to the front of the hotel. “Go up to your room. We’ll bring it to your door.”
As much as we tried to protest the room delivery, my cousins refused to budge. We were being catered to on our wedding night. And that was that.
So, I hoisted up the skirt on my wedding dress the way Rose in Titanic does before she and Jack dance a Gaelic jig and I pranced barefoot into the lobby, where Joe checked us into the honeymoon suite on the second floor.
My dress felt heavy and my skin felt sticky as we climbed the lobby’s winding staircase. I had felt weightless all night, but suddenly all I wanted to do was take off my gown in one clean unzip.
Every ounce of my body was spent. I had danced to the point of profound exhaustion. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in an elevator door. I had linebacker mascara smudges under my eyes and two mens’ ties knotted around my neck.
Joe slid the hotel key into the door. It beeped open. Despite his own exhaustion, he picked me up and carried me into the room. I told him to put me down, that he’d break his back from the sheer weight of my dress, but he soldiered on, a new husband indulging in an old tradition.
At one point, he disappeared into the bathroom, during which time my cousin John arrived with a bag of steaming bar food.
Like a little elf, he rapped on the door twice, handed me the food and then quickly hugged me goodbye. I thanked him, turned over the knob’s do-not-disturb sign and huffed in the sweet smell of grease.
Back in the room, I unzipped my dress and let it fall into a white heap on the floor. It looked beautiful sitting there half-deflated, and in that moment I was glad I hadn’t spent a fortune on it.
I lit the fire place and flipped on the TV. I channel surfed for a minute, stopping on Terminator 2 before sinking into the sofa and tearing into my takeout.
I found the hamburger in a foam container, placed it on one side of the coffee table. I unearthed a box of chicken fingers and placed it beside the hamburger. At the bottom of the bag I found another box filled with french fries. Tossed among the fries was a glass salt shaker, clearly lifted straight from the bar.
When Joe emerged, I was sitting on the couch in a bra and underwear. The coffee table was set for two, the salt shaker was placed between two takeout boxes and The Terminator was battling an evil cyborg.
The fire was flickering. My dress was sitting in a wilted heap on the floor.
Joe looked amused. We’d occupied our hotel room all of 15 minutes and already it smelled like french fries and sounded like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“What happened to your dress ?” He asked.
“It was getting too heavy,” I sighed.
He sat down beside me, reached for his burger and turned his attention to the television.
“Really? The Terminator?”
“I thought it went well with the food.”
He smiled, seemingly pleased with this answer. I think I’ve turned on the television 10 times in our relationship. This was one of them.
I cracked open the fries, picked up the salt and began sprinkling.
“Uhh, where did the salt come from?” he asked.
“Apparently they didn’t have to-go packets at the bar,” I shrugged. “At least now we’ve got a salt shaker for the kitchen.”
The comment hadn’t registered.
“Remember how last month you broke my favorite souvenir salt shaker?”
“The Mexican lady salt shaker you brought back from Cancun when we were dating?”
“Well, remember how I insisted you replace it with an equally significant shaker?”
“No need. This one will do.”
I think of this story every time I salt my food. It makes me feel better about my sodium intake.