No, I Don’t Want To See You Balance A Salt Shaker On Sugar

You are extremely impressed with your out-of-this-world talents.

That must be why, no matter where we are, no matter where we go, no matter the time of day, no matter the mood I’m in, no matter the weather or time…if we find ourselves in a diner, restaurant or outside cafe — your hands immediately go for the salt shaker and a packet of sugar in preparation of what you like to call your “Greatest Show on Earth”.

No, I don’t want to see you balance a salt shaker on sugar and I hope it’s something you’ll soon take to heart.

While most people sit down at a diner and begin asking questions like, “So, how have things been for you?” or “God, I’m so hungry, what are you going to get?” you instead roll up your sleeves, push back your hair and announce to anyone within earshot that “I am about to show you the most amazing physics experiment on the face of the Earth! Are you ready?”

Is an experiment involving a salt shaker and a packet of sugar really the most amazing physics experiment on the face of the Earth?

To you, it is. You explain in depth how sugar, while it looks like a pile of white powder, is actually something that you should look at closer. You point out that if you look really closely you can see that there are tiny little miniscule cubes in the pile of white. That each of these cubes are stable enough to balance an entire glass salt shaker on top of it…if the balancer knows the true path to full balancing-goodness.

And then you force everyone to watch you try to balance the salt shaker on the pile of sugar — continually not being able to balance said salt shaker, which results in a neverending process of you saying “yeah, that’s a bad piece of sugar, let me try this one” and “hold on, maybe if I make a new pile over here we can get this amazing physics experiment on track” — and we all sit there waving off the waitress because we can’t possibly start thinking about mozzarella cheese sticks and potato skins and buffalo chicken wings until [insert booming echoey voice here] the most amazing physics experiment on the face of the Earth actually happens.

About twenty-three minutes later you either give up (while offering up an explanation of the differences between “quality” sugar and “low threshold” sugar) or you will have eventually made the impossible happen.

At that point we may all very well be looking at a salt shaker, balancing at an angle, on a pile of sugar. It is both mind-blowing and idiotic all at the same time.

Yet, it never ends there. For if you were actually able to follow through this time on your groundbreaking physics presentation, you must hold up a finger and look to the crowd (all one of us) and announce that it’s just not done. No, there’s a dramatic piece of flair that must finish off the trick (much like the bursting flashes of light of the Copperfield kind).

Yes, you must blow away the pile of sugar into the clothing, eyes and laps of everyone around the table.

But don’t fret — such an annoyance is worth it, you’ll say. For when all the sugar is blown around the table and onto our laps, we’ll forget about such things when we look to see that the SALT SHAKER IS BALANCING ON A SINGLE HARD-TO-EVEN-SEE CRYSTAL OF SUGAR!!

Uh huh.

There’s really not much more to say about you and your salt shaker balancing and your sugar blowing, because by now you probably realize that this isn’t so much a groundbreaking physics experiment but rather a brain-busting, time-wasting, Mr. Wizard’s World trick that has been making the rounds since 1975. And if you, my salt-shaking-balancing friend, have any ill will towards armpit-noise making, pretend-nose breaking, spoon breathing/nose hanging, origami folding, Ouija board playing or “we’re going to lift your body in mid-air with just our fingers” doing — then you must stop your salt shaking balancing as soon as yesterday…because you are no different than the rest of them.

Perhaps you could balance a dog on your nose or do a head stand with two chainsaws balanced on your feet? Perhaps you could cause the Earth to stop, causing physics to do its thing and send everyone careening towards the wall? Perhaps you could eat a hundred pounds of salt while balancing on a ten foot high pile of sugar? Or perhaps you could just walk into a restaurant, not look at the sugar, and order a B.L.T.?

No, I didn’t think so. It was worth a try, at least, don’t you think? I mean, B.L.T.s are the greatest sandwich on the face of the entire Earth!

Which, of course, is another post altogether.

24 comments on “No, I Don’t Want To See You Balance A Salt Shaker On Sugar

  1. H. F. Peterman - January 30, 2006 at 8:28 am -

    Hey, that wasn’t on your list of Unused posts.

    You might want to follow up your salt shaker experiment with the infamous “scrunch up the paper on the straw, put a dab of water on it and watch it inch worm across the table”

  2. Pauly D - January 30, 2006 at 8:30 am -

    HF – That’s because it wasn’t. This was a fresh, brand-new post that hasn’t been languishing in any faceless digital tomb. Rejoice!

  3. Flower Girl - January 30, 2006 at 8:45 am -

    I have never heard of this trick before! But whoever you wrote this post about is surely crying right now…

  4. Pierce - January 30, 2006 at 8:57 am -

    I’m picturing Steve Buscemi doing this, for some reason. It could be the pushing back the hair thing.

    Were you having lunch with Steve Buscemi here, or am I way off?

  5. Hilary - January 30, 2006 at 9:00 am -

    Awesome. Now I have a new restaurant trick to add to my collection. The balancing the spoon on my nose one was getting old.

  6. melanie - January 30, 2006 at 9:42 am -

    Oh man, I was recently in a diner with one of these people. You aparently are a much better friend than I however. Because I just take the shaker away and don’t give it back.

  7. Amber - January 30, 2006 at 9:54 am -

    I would advise you to use those 23 minutes constructively. Order a lot of drinks and get wasted while the salt shaker balancer performs their “amazing feats.” Because after a few drinks, EVERYTHING is amazing. That or, if you’re a mean drunk, you can tell the balancer what to do with the damn salt shaker and can we please order dinner NOW??

  8. virenda - January 30, 2006 at 11:00 am -

    I have learned to NEVER go to any resteraunt with those kind of people.

    B.L.T’s are YUMMY, hands down the best!

  9. Jacquie - January 30, 2006 at 12:07 pm -

    OH wow, thanks for advice on how to balance a shalt shaker on sugar PD!!!! I can’t wait to wow my friends with the mind blowing physics.

    That was the point of your post really, wasn’t it????

  10. better safe than sorry - January 30, 2006 at 12:30 pm -

    blt wraps are my favorite!!!
    no one has ever tried to balance a salt shaker in my presence, i live a very sheltered life.

  11. dgm - January 30, 2006 at 2:10 pm -

    wow, i’m amazed at how many people claim to have never seen this trick. i thought i showed it to everyone.

  12. Thoughtsgalore - January 30, 2006 at 5:00 pm -

    Just give me a packet of sugar and I can balance any wobbly cheap diner table around..:)

    It’s one of my specialties…

  13. Pauly D - January 30, 2006 at 5:20 pm -

    I’m amazed so many people have never heard of this or seen this. It must be for people who only live half their lives at diner counters.

  14. Figs - January 30, 2006 at 5:48 pm -

    Is it not possible to balance the salt shaker on a pile of salt? For salt is also made up of tiny cubes. Seems like a waste of a sugar packet, especially since I can get a box of salt for less than 50-cents, but an equal amount of sugar costs at least twice as much. Plus, if you get salt in somebody’s eyes, it’ll make them cry WAY more than sugar.

  15. Kris - January 30, 2006 at 5:51 pm -



  16. Rabbit - January 30, 2006 at 6:23 pm -

    You need some real friends.

  17. ginger - January 30, 2006 at 6:30 pm -

    I cannot perform this amazing feat of physics, but I can, at times, Shake it Like a Salt Shaker!


  18. jill - January 30, 2006 at 7:04 pm -

    i too have never witnessed this amazing feat. i feel rather deprived. perhaps i should start licking my left elbow at every restaurant i visit. (i have done this at school many times before.) that is a far more appluase-indusing activity. however, now i feel the lack in my life of salt and sugar balancers and will spend the rest of my existence searching the world over for someone to show me this trick. thanks for making me aware of my lacks, mr. d. (is paulyd too informal, or do you not mind it?)

  19. Jaclyn - January 30, 2006 at 8:38 pm -

    I can bend my thumb backwards and make it touch my forearm. Does that count for anything?

  20. Pauly D - January 30, 2006 at 8:49 pm -

    Jaclyn – Yes, it does. But promise me you won’t do that in front of me, while balancing a salt shaker on a bead of sugar while making music with your armpit, okay?

  21. claire - January 30, 2006 at 9:39 pm -

    I confess I have been known to draw topological equivalencies if crayons are handy. (Look! A coffee cup is really the same thing as a donut!)

    Ordering food (and eating it when it arrives) always comes first though.

  22. MT - January 31, 2006 at 6:58 am -

    You just wish you could balance a salt shaker on sugar.

  23. Lena - January 31, 2006 at 11:37 am -

    This MUST be a LA comedy writer trick. Only you people have the time.

  24. shawna - January 31, 2006 at 11:46 am -

    I am in the minority (majority??) of people who have not seen this feat of amazement. I am appalled that no one around me has performed it, as I would stand up and applaud and call everyone, NAY EVERYTHING, over to exclaim at the SUPERBNESS of this trick!


    I would feign a seizure.

    One of these things is true.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.