Searchin’ For My Lost Shaker of Salt

I have a feeling I might take things too literally sometimes.

Yesterday, I was heating up a cup of soup for lunch. Reading the directions on the label, I saw this:


So what did I do? I reached over and shook the microwave before opening the door. Knowing full well that Campbell’s wanted me to shake the soup, but hoping to prove a point and helpless to resist because the label was confusing at best, if not downright poorly written. Plus, how could I let such a perfect comedic moment go to waste?! Never mind that the lunchroom was empty. After giving the microwave a good shake, I put my soup in and heated it up. You know what I don’t understand? How Campbell’s can possibly sell enough soup to stay in business. I’m sorry, but their product is awful. (Except for Chicken & Stars. That one I slurp down like a champion). Seriously, even though the soup is already packed with sodium, it tastes like it needs a ton of salt, no matter the flavor. Which I never add, because see above (it’s already packed with sodium). So on the rare occasion when I eat Campbell’s, I’m left choking down flavorless soup.

And trust me, shaking the microwave does not help in the least.

I guess because Andy Warhol painted the ubiquitous red and white cans, called it “pop art” and got rich, the product has earned a place on grocery shelves forevermore.

Omaha, Omaha! 

So, you know how Peyton Manning has been calling out “Omaha” lately? I might have inadvertently committed to taking a trip there this summer. Early in the playoff game against New England, I excitedly said to Tara, “If the Broncos really do go all the way and win the Super Bowl, we should go visit Omaha in tribute! How fun would that be?!”

Tara’s expression suggested it would be anything but fun. I disagree. I already have a weird kind of fascination with the midwestern city, having once declared out of the blue I wanted to live there. Granted, I’ve never even been there, which just indicates to me that there are forces at work behind the scenes much bigger than you and I. How was I to know, years later, it would become a catchphrase for the greatest quarterback of all time, and catapult my favorite team to the Super Bowl? It’s destiny, I’m telling you.

Especially if you look at the date of that blog post. July 14. Over and over again, I have mentioned the significance of that number in my life.

We’re already hoping to take a road trip through Yellowstone to Rapid City later this summer. Why, Omaha is just 7 hours and 25 minutes away! We have to go! Mainly because we sports fans can get a tad superstitious. No sooner had I thrown that suggestion out there (half-kiddingly, I’ll admit) than Tom Brady started to suck. He missed an easy pass that might have led to a touchdown, and could have changed the course of the game. Do I really believe my pseudo-promise of a trip to Omaha affected the outcome? Of course not.

The fact that I refused to budge from my “lucky seat” the entire game had everything to do with it.

Lest you think I’m crazy for entertaining that possibility, plenty of fans adopt sports superstitions of their own. There’s even a series of Bud Light commercials poking fun at these rituals, like this one.

Which is why, should our team win the Vince Lombardi trophy, Tara and I are going to seriously consider a side trip to Omaha this year!

When I told my boss about our plan, he said we’d be in good company, since Warren Buffett still lives there, in what is actually a pretty modest house. At least by billionaire standards.

“Wow,” I replied. “He’s still raking in the royalty checks for “Margaritaville” after all these years, eh?”

I’m pretty sure my boss knew I was kidding.

On The Market

Last night, we met with the realtor and signed a listing agreement. The townhouse is now officially for sale…and priced to sell fast. I’m asking $125,000, which is a steal for a two-story, 1300+ square foot end unit townhouse with three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, central air conditioning, two-car attached garage, covered patio, vaulted ceilings, etc. And far less than what I paid for it over 7 years ago, but then again, that’s why I’m doing a short sale in the first place.

I have mixed emotions over this. On the one hand, there are a lot of memories in that place. On the other hand, they are MY memories. I’d like Tara and I to have a fresh start and find a place together where we can make OUR memories.

“We have some nice memories here,” she reminded me yesterday, and that is true. But they’re tangled up with other memories that, quite frankly, I’d like to forget. It’s never really felt like the place is ours. It’s mine, and she moved in.

Still, I’ve been there since 2006, and it’s going to be bittersweet leaving. I remember the enormous sense of pride I felt in buying a home, all by myself, following my divorce. That made me feel like a grownup more than anything else in my life. And part of me thought I’d live there forever, or at least until I was too old and infirm to get up and down the stairs. Life never does work out exactly as expected, does it?

So now the fun begins. People traipsing through the house at all hours. Planning a move. Finding a new place to live. And even though the price is already super low, the bank will allow us to go considerably lower, if need be. We’re thinking this is going to happen pretty fast. Again, I have mixed emotions about that.

In the meantime, we are taking off early this afternoon for a weekend trip to the coast. We received a gift certificate to the Elizabeth Street Inn in Newport, Oregon as a wedding gift, and are cashing that in this weekend. It’s the place where I nearly died – of embarrassment, anyway. But it’s got special meaning to us, and we are looking forward to a perfectly relaxing weekend by the ocean.

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Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

17 thoughts on “Searchin’ For My Lost Shaker of Salt

  1. I sympathize on dealing with realtors and having to leave and wait, every time someone wants to look. We had 60+ showings in the six weeks it took us to sell our house. I got so tired if hiding valuables, wet towels, etc.

    On a more pleasant note: we did the Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore trip in 2007. Absolutely loved it! If you’ve never been to a rodeo, the Cody one is fun.


    1. 60+ showings?! Wow. I’m definitely not looking forward to that. Hoping most of them take place during the day, while we’re at work. Much less disruption and hassle that way.

      I actually have been to a rodeo, but I was a kid and that was in Hawaii, so it doesn’t count. We’ll see if our trip ends up coinciding with any festivities in Cody. Thanks for the tip!


    1. Now, now. Nebraska is a fine place. I drove across it a couple of years ago, and remember…a whole lot of nothing, for miles and miles and miles. But that’s a good thing if you’re tried of urban sprawl!

      We had a wonderful weekend, Kathy. I hope you and Sara did, too!


  2. “So what did I do? I reached over and shook the microwave before opening the door. ”

    Bwhahahahahahahahaha! Mark, I laughed out loud at that! How FUNNY! And it’s ironic you mentioned ‘shake before opening” because I never noticed that on the cans before, but I started doing that to my soup a few months ago and it does make a difference in how it cooks. The soup seems more evenly heated.

    Hey, and I loved the Bud Light commercial! HA!

    ” I’m asking $125,000″ Yes, definitely a steal. Especially for all they’re getting. And the best to you and Tara with the sale. I bet it’ll sell fast too!

    I’ve never been to Omaha either, but it’s always been a place I would like to visit. The pictures I’ve seen of it are so beautiful!

    Have a super time at the coast this weekend, buddy!


    1. Yeah, I think they added that recently because I don’t remember having to shake anything before. And that DOES help, because otherwise the ingredients can clump together, then they’re cold and hard and stuck at the bottom of the soup can. Not very appealing at all that way.


  3. I am not crazy about Campbell’s broth type soups, but I love their Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Chicken & Cream of Broccoli soup! Good luck with your townhouse sale! I’m sure you’ll find something better – if not at first in the near future!


    1. Oh, yeah – now, those are good flavors! Though I typically use them for cooking purposes only. I can’t remember the last time I actually ate a bowl of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Although, that sounds oddly appealing all of a sudden…


      1. Last week I was so tired & really didn’t know what I wanted to eat & then it came to me – I wanted a nice big salad & a bowl of Cream of Mushroom soup with lots of crackers! It was the perfect dinner for me at the time.


  4. I concur. Campbell’s soup is very tasteless. Which is why it’s always best to make our own!

    Omaha. People from all over the world move to Omaha. Omaha.

    Good luck to your team this Sunday. I will be rooting for your bronco’s but only because of a friendly wager I have with someone at work.

    Beast-mode is a’comin and it ain’t gonna be pretty.



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