Note: This is an item I wrote many many years ago. I don’t remember exactly when, but I’ll guess around 1996.
My husband, Paul, was born and raised in Chicago. Early in our marriage, when I would tell friends that we were going to Chicago for the weekend, the response would be, “Oh great, that should be fun.” I’d then have to explain that I never actually went to downtown Chicago, I’d just spend the weekend at my in-laws’ house, listening to Paul and his parents bicker and waiting on his sister. Paul’s sister is chronically late – for everything. But I won’t go there, I’m trying to keep this article short.
Paul and I did try to go to Chicago one time for a fun weekend before my son was born. He was going to show me all his old “haunts” and the neighborhood where he grew up, and then we’d have a nice dinner at one of his favorite restaurants. But he made the mistake of telling his mother that we were coming, you’d have to know my mother- in-law to appreciate the mistake that was. She planned a fun day of seeing the Chinese exhibit at Navy Pier. We spent the entire day inside. Afterward, when I complained that we had made the trip to see Chicago, Paul’s dad was kind enough to drive us around the city. Suffice it to say we never tried that again.
Around 1980 my in-laws moved an hour north of Chicago to a place called Round Lake – a God-forsaken place with nothing to do but visit the local Sears store. However, over the years, the area has really developed. More houses, numerous strip malls and Gurnee Mills! After that when we visited, we often went to Gurnee Mills to window shop. Hey, it got us out of the house.
Paul and I are both gadget lovers. All kinds of gadgets – hardware, electronics, office supplies. We love them. We love looking at them, touching them, playing with them. Sometimes, we even buy them. Paul learned early in our marriage that going to the hardware store without telling me first was a big mistake!! All he had to say was “I have to go to Lowe’s for…” and I’m in the car, drooling and bouncing like a puppy going for a car ride.
Now, let me point out that we eventually learned not to buy things that we couldn’t actually use. We don’t need more unused items cluttering up the cabinets, such as the hand-held gadget that allows you to make your own mayonnaise. I mean, heaven forbid that the people who manufacture mayonnaise ever go on strike, but if they do, it won’t affect us.
So, on one of our trips to Gurnee Mills (bet you were wondering where this was going), we entered through the “Bed, Bath and Beyond” store. Paul and I hadn’t heard of it. It had your usual bed and bath items and a whole wall of kitchen gadgets! Paul and I stood there looking at all the items hanging there. Row upon row upon row. To passers-by we looked like two kids staring in the Macy’s window at Christmas time. While Paul’s mom and sister went off to look for silly things like clothes and shoes and my son went off to look for video games, Paul and I made sure we looked up and down every row. Somewhere there was sure to be some tool that we couldn’t live without.
After an hour of looking and touching, Paul came away with an oven thermometer that actually sits outside the oven. No longer would we have to open the oven door to check on the temperature! I came away with a butter holder, measurer, slicer. It’s really cool! You put your stick of butter in and close the lid. When you need to measure butter for a recipe, you open the lid, slide the bar to the correct amount (1 tablespoon, 2 tablespoons, etc.), then you press the button and the slicer cuts off the butter. You don’t have to dirty a knife!
Although Paul’s thermometer is still unopened, I’m proud to say that we have actually used my new gadget. I don’t know how we lived without it. It truly is the small things that make life better.
I miss you Paul.