September 16, 1990. Honeymoon trip over. A return to the life that was to be. Started opening gifts. Another set of china. New bride screams YES! New husband says "is Sports Center on yet?"
The process was repeated many times. China, stainless flatware, crystal stemware, obscure hand-made vase or other artsy-fartsy item. Wash, rinse, repeat. Until...
The gift. The holy grail of all generosity. An item given to a newly married couple with the giver's mindset rooted in practicality vs. obligation, tradition, or other nonsense. A combo salt-shaker / peppercorn grinder! The perfect intersection of an item I'd love to have but yet never be willing to purchase.
Virtually every meal from 1990 until January 2010 consumed in three apartments, three houses, and four cities was liberally seasoned with Morton's salt and a variety of freshly cracked pepper. But then it happened.
While the salt still poured freely, the old pepper grinder could take it no more. Its crushing gears were irreparably wound down by two decades of joyful use. The metal simply tumbled and massaged the peppercorns, but the crisp, powerful flavor remained trapped helplessly inside the chamber.
I bounced night to night from confusion to denial to frustration to rationalization and back again.
- What's wrong with this thing?
- It must be hung on a peppercorn. I'll clean it out over the sink.
- Why is this happening to me?
- Its the best gift...[shed tear, wipe cheek]...we ever got.
- Damn it! Listen to me! LIVVVVVE! Do you hear me?
While no longer on "active duty", the paternal shaker/grinder watches from a distance sitting on the window sill above the sink. The hard-working, never-quit machine sits proudly while its greenhorn, rookie twins attempt to take its place.
That's right - what only required one device to adequately season otherwise bland food 20 years ago now takes TWO specialists. Sure, they look stout, cocky, and loaded for bear. But I think we all know better, don't we?