A couple of years ago, my lovely cousin gifted me a salt lamp. If you don’t know what a salt lamp is, it’s essentially a chunk of Himalayan rock salt that someone has drilled a hole in and stuck a night light up. But apparently it has a lot of health benefits: it can purify the air, increase focus and concentration, and balance your electromagnetic radiation. Since I’m not an X-Man, I never really needed that last thing, but I DID find that it had a warm glow that was very soothing. Unfortunately, my beautiful salt lamp was one of the many things I had to leave behind when we abandoned our office during the Great Covid Evacuation of 2020. I really missed it in my home office space, then one of my colleagues was going to visit the office (he had a large collection of shoes that he wanted to retrieve and I was like, are we even WEARING shoes anymore? but I can’t judge because the only thing I initially wanted from my office was my Fluevogs) and he offered to bring back some of my personal stuff. I immediately thought of my salt lamp. Thanks to him, who passed it on to another workfriend who lives nearby, I got it back last weekend. I pulled the lamp out of the box full of reading glasses, trinkets, clocks, and other assorted miscellany and left it on the counter while I cleared a space on the windowsill next to my desk for it. When I came back to the kitchen, something very unusual was happening. Kate was bent over with her tongue on the lamp while Ken watched, as if cheering her on.
Me: What the hell?
Kate (innocently): What?
Me: Were you…LICKING my salt lamp?!
Kate: I wanted to see if it really tasted like salt.
Ken: It does.
Me: Did you lick it too?!
Me: If you wanted to know what it tasted like, all you had to do was ask.
Kate and Ken: You licked it too?
Me: Obviously. It’s a large chunk of Himalayan rock salt. Why WOULDN’T I lick it? I wanted to know if it lived up to its name—mystery solved. Now stop licking my lamp.
Of course it’s not the first time I’ve tasted salt that didn’t come directly from a little shaker on my table. Last winter, I was walking downtown and it was really windy. In Toronto in the wintertime, they lay down salt on the sidewalks so heavily that it’s literally inches thick, but people walk on it and crush it until it’s as fine as sand and intermingled with dirt and other unsavoury elements. So there I was, walking along and talking to Ken on the phone:
Me: So I’m taking the 4:35 train on—oh my god!!!
Ken: What’s wrong?!
Me: The wind just gusted and blew sidewalk salt into my mouth! Argh!
Me (spitting): It’s stuck to my lip gloss! Oh my god, it’s from the SIDEWALK. People PEE ON THE SIDEWALK! I’m going to get so sick!
And I did. I had to spend a week on antibiotics because of my sinuses. I don’t know if it was from the dirty sidewalk salt, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
And then there was the time I found salt in my hair. About four years ago, Ken and I were watching TV. It was actually the Democratic National Convention, interestingly enough, and we were intrigued by American politics. Of course, the bloom was quickly off THAT rose, with our reaction to American politics over the last four years going from intrigued to befuddled, to WTF? but at any rate, halfway through, I ran my fingers through my hair. You know, the way people do when they’re relaxing, and maybe a little bored, waiting for something interesting to happen, like a Bernie Sanders supporter disrupting the performance by running across the stage naked, a la the streaking fad of the 70s. But something felt weird—on my head, that is. It felt like there were grains of sand in my hair. I pulled one out, and looked at it closely. It was clear and crystalline. I put it in my mouth, bit down on it and realized it wasn’t sand. It was SALT. I had salt in my hair. A LOT of grains of salt. I turned to Ken:
Me: WTF?! I have salt in my hair!
Ken: How did you get salt in your hair?
Me: You tell ME!
Ken: Were you shaking the saltshaker really vigorously at dinner? Maybe some of the salt flew up in the air, and landed in your hair.
Me: I think you and Kate would have noticed if I was using a saltshaker like I was playing the maracas. This is insane. How could I get this much salt in my hair?
I was so disturbed that I actually Googled “salt in hair” to see if there was some rare, little-known disease that might cause one’s body to spontaneously produce salt crystals. All I got was “using Epsom salts as a hair rinse to prevent dandruff”. Which I had definitely NOT done. My only choice was to bend over and shake all the salt out of my hair, worried that I might be turning into Lot’s wife.
The next day at lunch, I was still freaked out by what had happened, and I decided that maybe Kate had played a joke on me.
Me: I have to ask you a really weird question. I swear I’m being serious.
Kate (suspiciously): Um, OK. What?
Me: Last night at dinner, did you shake salt into my hair when I wasn’t looking? Like, as a joke?
Kate: (laughing hysterically): What?! Did I do what?!
Me: Don’t laugh! I found a sh*tload of salt in my hair last night and I don’t know where it came from.
Kate: How did you know it was salt?
Me: I tasted it.
Kate: What?! Why would you TASTE it?!
Me: BECAUSE I NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT IT WAS!
Kate: What if it was poison?!
Me: Why would anyone sprinkle poisonous salt in my hair? Just be honest. Did you sneak up behind me and do it?
Kate: No, Mom. I did not put salt in your hair.
I still have no idea where all that salt came from. But at least now, if I’m in the middle of a meeting and craving something salty, I can always just lick my lamp.