01 April 2010

You Can Give Me Salt

The couple sat down at the table across the aisle from mine. I thought at first I had them profiled, based on the body language and awkward seeming looks. But I think I was wrong.

They were very quiet. I noticed them not looking at one another directly. You know those looks, the ones given by two people who are uncomfortable in each others' presence, from a relationship heading downhill. Those looks where neither party feels like speaking, would rather be somewhere else, doing something else, with someone else. But either it has not disintegrated completely, or they are just too tired to end it.

I looked away before they could see me watching, suddenly becoming fascinated by the pizza minus a slice, sitting on the table in front of me. I became hyper-aware of the last bite of crust and prosciutto dissolving under the onslaught of my molars, chewy goodness squeaking against my teeth. It hit me that I was eating alone, again, and not all that concerned about it. Seeing the couple in the booth not speaking helped to reinforce my sense of unconcern.

I meditated as I ate, pondering those twists and turns of life that make or break relationships. I revisited the terrain I have been crossing as of late. I considered my own life and what I could have done that things would have turned out differently. Pangs of hunger duked it out with pangs of sadness as I wrestled a bit with the notion that, maybe, things have turned out the way they have because that is how things were meant to be.

Still, knowing that life has gone the way it was fated to be does not make it easier to watch  a good  one disintegrate and fall apart.

I looked up from my plate. The waitress was setting a pizza down on their table, along with bread and salads. There was a change in the demeanor of the couple. During my episode of navel gazing, they had begun talking quietly to each other. Their faces were more animated, and what I had taken as weariness was softened by the beginnings of smiles. It was after they had each taken a slice of pizza that an intriguing thing happened.

On the table was a shaker jar of what I took to be garlic salt, the kind often found in pizza places everywhere. The husband (if that is what he was) picked it up and sprinkled some on his pizza. He paused, looked over at the wife (if that is what she was) while cocking an eyebrow. He said something, probably asking her if wanted some garlic salt. She smiled a small smile and nodded her head. I fully expected him to hand her the shaker.

He did not. He reached over and dusted her slice for her, and then set the jar down. She was smiling and seemed to be eager to eat. It struck me that she had neither said something "Enough!" or signaled for him to stop shaking the garlic salt. He just did it, she seemed happy and they both fell to on the pizza, looking happy.

It was then that I realized I may have been wrong about them. Maybe they were both just tired from a long workday, and quiet as a result. Maybe they were really in love.

I say that because it takes significant history to do what he did. It takes a certain knowledge to be able to season someone's food for them and know when to stop. In return, it takes a lot of trust to let someone do that for you. It takes confidence to let another take care of you, if for no other reason other than you trust them, you love them. This is especially true when it comes to sharing salt. It is easy to ruin a dish with too much salt, so allowing another to give you salt without overtly defining the limits is a quiet but powerful way of showing how much you trust them.

It is a sign of how much you love another, perhaps, to be able to give them salt in just the right amount without the need for words or signals. It speaks to a deeper bond, a deeper knowledge.

Love, give me salt, that I may know you.


  1. I love how you took this moment and breathed life into it the way you wrote about it. I think hubs and I have been both of those couples, the before and the after the sharing of the salt.

  2. RIGHT ON, IG!!!!! Really, you got this one!
    My only question is, do you really have garlic salt on the table at a pizza place??? Yeah, it would make sense, but, I have never seen that out west!

  3. Very rightly put in.Some of life's best pleasures are its simplest ones.Enrich your life with the one thought of love and your heart will be more happy. I have had this wonderful dating experience which might be quite surprising for many people who read this.
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  4. Ha, I'd hate you to profile me when I'm tired and hungry, regardless of how much prosciutto is being dissolved in my mouth, your mouth, anyone's mouth.

  5. Getting these things right, cements your relationship into a marriage. Getting them wrong, in even the slightest way, tears it apart.

    Many people say that sex is intimacy. Wrong. Garlic salt on your pizza is intimacy. The ability to be silent in each other's company is intimacy.

    The poet Galway Kinnell once wrote that at the beginning of marriage, your wife is the woman you find most sexually attractive. Later, your wife is the woman who knows where your glasses are.

  6. You need to write a book if you have not done so already. I get lost in your short stories and find I want them to be a novel. I hope you are writing a novel.

    The Blue Ridge Gal

  7. I love when you write about love. Actually I love whatever you write. This one pulled me in!

  8. Yes... to often our own experiences foreshadow a new experience, even before we've had the new experience. (My bookie counts on it.)

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  10. My first post didn't look /sound quite right ..

    All that tenderness and love, shown in a story of two people and some salt .. thank you, it was so touching and full. ( Full is the only word I can think of .. there is so much to this small story you have told..)

  11. I totally get your point! It does sound very soul mately.

    I'm not sure I'd be completely happy with the gesture though.

    Now, my soul mate drawing me a bath...

  12. I love the way you write. I can see exactly what you're saying in my head.

  13. I have watched couples in restaurants too. I see the boredom on faces of some. On others, I see animation and passion. Then there are the ones who just seem comfortable and content. I wonder what we look like to others as we sit and look at each other, occasionally touch a hand, give a smile. I just wonder.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...