De Beste Datingsites
Pivotal Purchase is an ongoing series highlighting a watershed shopping moment — the thing you bought that made you feel like you were financially stable, that changed your perspective, that made you realize you were really, truly, finally an adult.
On a sticky afternoon one August, I steered a U-Haul from Madison, Wisconsin, to Chicago, where I’d soon be shacking up with my boyfriend Paul. We’d been dating for four years at the time, but had never shared a place together before. I was stupid excited.
For one thing, moving in with Paul meant putting some space between us and our aggressively Midwestern-nice parents, which, admittedly, was much-needed. (Please don’t tell them I said that.) It also meant leaving the claustrophobic comfort of our college town, where we’d met, and where we’d both been living for the past five years — me, in a dirt-cheap, second-floor studio apartment with a single window and a thriving fruit fly population; him, in a four-bedroom bachelor pad where he lived in a nook under the stairs, Harry Potter-style, and where the sole piece of interior decor was an original acrylic painting of a wistful tiger cub, a $12 thrift store conquest that someone hung over the mantle.
A cast iron skillet was the most-wanted gift by couples who got married in seven states in 2018.
Moving in together also meant that we suddenly had duplicates of everything: two sets of dishware, two garbage cans, two mattress toppers, two sofas. And, inexplicably, three toilet brushes.
We took a post-move-in stock of our now-shared belongings, organizing what we wanted and donating what we didn’t, and making note of some items that needed replacing.
Our biggest project by far was getting the kitchen in order. Both of us had amassed our own hodgepodge of pots and pans over the years, and almost nothing matched up. If it did, it was really old and its nonstick coating had seen better days — as in, “do you want a side of suspected carcinogens with those eggs?” old.
Since Paul and I were now splitting the cost of living, the option for nicer cookware was suddenly on the table, and a decent cast iron skillet was at the very top of my personal shopping list: They’re almost absurdly durable, have a natural nonstick coating with seasoning that improves with age, and hold heat really well for even browning and searing. It would be the first addition to my grown-up kitchen.
I took to Google to delve into the world of quality cookware — which, as an unmarried woman, sort of felt like I was crashing a party to which I hadn’t been invited. Cast iron skillets and the like are typically registry items, after all, the sort of nice things you hold off getting until you receive them as a wedding present. (A cast iron skillet was, in fact, the most-wanted gift by couples who got married in seven states in 2018, according to data examined by the popular wedding planning and registry site Zola.)
I’ve never been one to dream about an elaborate, Pinterest-worthy wedding; I’d much rather elope, have a party (read: open bar), and save my money for the honeymoon (or literally anything else). And Paul and I have briefly talked about marriage. For what it’s worth, we’re still dating to this day — going seven years strong now — but it’s not something we’re prioritizing.
However, I do understand why registries and wedding gifts are important: They’re a way for your family and friends to contribute something physical and lasting to your relationship. And admittedly, I initially felt a tinge of guilt (see also: internalized misogyny) for intruding on “registry” territory with the purchase of a cast iron skillet, as if I was somehow ~stealing~ potential gift ideas from my future wedding guests.
Granted, this was a lot of internal debate over a dumb slab of carbon-iron alloys. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how gratuitous my guilt actually was: Fifty years ago, holding out ‘til your wedding for a new blender or KitchenAid mixer would have made more sense; most couples were getting married in their early 20s without having lived together beforehand, and they needed kitchenware and furniture for their newly combined household. You could also argue that such gifts were meant to prepare a woman to embrace domesticity once she became a “Mrs.,” because heteronormative gender roles and all that BS.
But with more millennials now tying the knot in their late 20s and into their 30s — and, like Paul and I, deciding to cohabitate before the fact — couples tend to be more established by the time they hit the chapel or courthouse. If they want a new blender or KitchenAid mixer, they’ve got the means to buy it themselves.
And if they really want a good sear on their steak, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to buy a skillet, goddammit. So I did.
After settling into our Chicago apartment, I logged onto Amazon one night, fired up my Prime account, and started to do some serious cast iron skillet sleuthing. There were plenty of options to choose from — some big, some small, some pre-seasoned, some with lids, and some with heat-resistant handles. I settled on a respectable 12-inch, pre-seasoned skillet that cost about $30.
It felt good to christen my new skillet with tacos that night — like a middle finger to the marriage industrial complex.
I smashed that “Add to Cart” button and completed the checkout process, and two days later, a box emblazoned with the Amazon smirk arrived in the lobby of our apartment building. It was almost comically heavy for its size, and its journey up the steps to my kitchen counter was a slow one that reminded me of how little upper body strength I have.
A quick flick of a knife got the box open to reveal a skillet just like the one I saw on Amazon no less than 48 hours earlier. It was jet black and slick, with an ever-so-slightly stippled surface if you looked closely, and the sort of heft that could easily knock someone out if swung in their direction.
It felt good to christen my new skillet with homemade tacos that night — like a meek middle finger to the marriage industrial complex. Maybe that’s giving too much credit to a slab of carbon-iron alloys, but hey, small victories.
It’s probably sacrilegious to admit that I haven’t been taking the best care of my skillet in the several years since buying it. Technically, its maintenance is supposed to be minimal in order to preserve the oil coating; experts recommend merely scraping off the dirty bits, giving it a quick rinse, and gently patting it dry. I, on the other hand, have taken to using a bit of soap when it gets particularly gunky, and even scrubbing it when gobs of residue really settle in. I’m fully prepared for it to be rusted and ruined one day, a predicament of my own making.
But that’s OK — I can always buy a new one.