The facts of unsalted butter

In one of our kitchen conversations several weeks ago, my flatmate Dean explained that restaurants use unsalted butter, instead of the ordinary salted butter most folks use at home. This is because, he says, restaurants use so much butter that if it was salted butter, every dish would be too salty. Restaurants buy butter in one-pound blocks, you know, and that's four times the size of your butter dish at home, and a restaurant's butter comes in boxes with thirty one-pound blocks of butter, and—

May 11, 2022

I don't give a damn about any of this, of course. Certainly I hadn't asked. When Dean gave me the facts of unsalted butter, I escaped the kitchen as quickly as I could.

That man is an extrovert, and he's happiest when he's talking with someone.

From my room, I can easily overhear Dean's kitchen conversations with our other flatmates, usually Robert, occasionally L, and Dean is always happy to be talking.

My door is closed right now, but it's hollow, and it's directly off the kitchen, so all the words come through and into my room. Dean and Robert are talking, and Dean is in the middle of his butter speech, again reciting the facts of unsalted butter.

In only a month and a half living here, I've heard him explain unsalted butter once to me, once to L, and three times to Robert. Dean has told me that he rides the bus, so I assume he often explains the facts of unsalted butter to other passengers on the #128 or #120. He's retired, and he's said he likes sitting in the park and chatting with people, so I wonder how often he's explained the facts of unsalted butter to strangers on a bench.

Dean may be Seattle's leading expert on unsalted butter.

It's a human thing, this need for someone to talk to, but it's one of the human things that eludes me. Just another aspect of the species I will never understand.

Dean needs to be talking, and maybe Robert needs to be listening, so it's good that they have each other. They talk in the kitchen three or four times a week, usually for a few minutes, but other times, like today... all day, apparently.

I could join them, I suppose. Sure, I could walk into the kitchen, ask a few questions about butter, and we'd all become friends. It's not a tempting thought. I'd rather have no conversations, and no friends, than listen to another lecture about unsalted butter.

I'm an introvert. I'll be here in my room, alone, turning on the fan to drown out their conversation.

Would I chat with Dean and Robert if they were talking about Humphrey Bogart movies, or the collapse of civilization, or some other topic of some interest to me? Probably not. I don't talk much. Never have. Never much wanted to.

I type a lot, though.

I enjoyed talking with my wife. We were each other's constant companions for more than twenty years. We could talk about anything, and in all that time she never bored me even once, and almost never got on my nerves.

When she died, though, I did not seek out someone else to talk with. I went back to being a hermit. The quiet guy. It's my nature.

Mom has invited me to her favorite breakfast place. Just her and me. Her invitation was a month ago, and I've been putting it off, but it has to happen and it will. Soon, I suppose.

She'll have questions about my life, none of which I'm eager to answer, because anything I tell her, no matter how banal, becomes fodder for eternal follow-up questions. If I mention, say, that I've been putting off doing the laundry, she will file that factoid away, and bring it up every time we talk. "Have you done your laundry lately?" she'll ask in a week, and again in a month, and again in July and August and September and October, "I know you tend to put it off."

If I tell her anything that matters, anything more important than the laundry — I miss my dead wife, I'm not eager to find a job and go back to work, etc — it's an instant invitation to advice, or rebuke, or a word of prayer. Thus, conversation with Mom needs to be low-key chit-chat about nothing that matters.

She has exactly five stories from my childhood, times when I allegedly said something cute, and she recites these stories eternally. "I remember when you were about five," she'll say three times every time we talk, followed by one of her stories of little-kid me. I don't remember saying any of these amusing things she says I said when I was a kid, but I remember hearing each of the stories ten-thousand times, and they bore the life out of me.

Her other constant topics — Jesus, the church, family gossip, etc — are also about as interesting as unsalted butter. 

A few years back, visiting Seattle, I took Mom to breakfast, with a strategy. All through the meal, I tried very hard to keep her talking about things other than her five stories of me, other than her naggy tidbits of knowledge about adult me. I asked about her memories, because she's lived a long life and has lots of them — and surprise, they're interesting.

Had to keep steering her away from repeating the same things she always says, but it worked, and we had a nice breakfast, three years ago. That'll be my strategy again, when she takes me to breakfast tomorrow… Or maybe the day after tomorrow. I'm still trying to put it off, but it's coming soon.

I was watching an old movie (I like old movies) and the camera panned down the street past Ching's Laundry. Couple of nights later, watching another old movie, two characters were talking and walking past Wong's Laundry.

It used to be a thing: Chinese immigrants running a laundry. Or at least it was a stereotype. If it was ever true, it seems not to be true any more. Glancing quickly through Google search results, I see nary a single laundry in Seattle that fits the bill, at least obviously. 

And now, some unknown news…  

♦ ♦ ♦  

Senate officially throws middle finger to reproductive rights 

♦ ♦ ♦

Green activists torch Former Minister's cars 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

I declare this useful, if you're looking for things that aren't being promoted with massive ad campaigns: OldestSearch.com yields Google's search results, with the oldest matches listed first. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Strippers picket 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

San Francisco police held an 'Ice Cream with a Cop' event. It devolved into chaos. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Former Black Panther Sundiata Acoli to be released from prison after 49 years 

♦ ♦ ♦  

Biden can fight inflation by repealing Trump's tariffs. Why hasn't he? 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

While the world melts, rich folks have their first airport for flying cars. 

♦ ♦ ♦  

Two more union organizers fired from Amazon's Staten Island warehouse 

♦ ♦ ♦

One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...

♦ ♦ ♦

The End
Sheldon Krimsky
Irving Rosenthal

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to All Hat No Cattle, Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. >When she died, though, I did not seek out someone else to talk with. I went back to being a hermit. The quiet guy. It's my nature.

    I liked living with you. We could very easily exist in our separate rooms, talking or not talking as the situation called for. Like, I bet we sometimes went a day with fewer than 100 words exchanged, but sometimes actually talked a lot. It was almost never uncomfirtable, unless one of us was trying to whack off in peace.


    >Mom has invited me to her favorite breakfast place. Just her and me.

    I'll bet you a dollar it's Denny's or Perkins, or IHOP, or some bullshit like that.

    1. She's told me the name of the restaurant, and to your surprise and mine, no sir, it's a one-and-only place, not a chain.

      Hey, if I never said it, I liked having you in the next room, too. In my memory you were always in your chair, in your room. Same as me, always in my chair, in my room. Wish my current flatmates were more like you...

  2. I'm fully expecting to hear how you had to have your hands tied behind your back to stop you from strangling your mom after she asked you for the fourth time that day why you never recline in your recliner.

    1. We've had a longish text-messaging conversation since that last breakfast, and she hasn't (yet) mentioned my recliner (so far).


🚨🚨 If you have problems posting a comment, please click here for help. 🚨🚨