I was packing up my good china to give to Stephanie.
I haven’t used them in 25 years and she entertains a lot.
I got them in London when I was 19, the year I met dave. I used them once before I was married. My boyfriend Jerry and I ate pizza on them. We did this secretly because everything I did with Jerry was a secret since he wasn’t Jewish and my mother would have killed me if she knew he was in her house, much less touching the cutlery.
Once I got married I used them whenever we did any fancy entertaining ( I once served Ahmet Ertegan coffee on them thinking he would be impressed but he barely noticed them ). We hadn’t done that in a lot of years. They were just sitting there gathering dust so I decided to give them to Steph.
While I was packing them this morning I felt a rush of sadness. Not for the dishes, although they are really beautiful, a robins egg blue band around a white center and rich gold edges, but for what they represented. They were always my treasures because I had them since I was young and they reminded me of better, no past, times.
I called Steph and said that maybe I’d keep 2 settings. Then I changed it to a cup and saucer.
“Well what if I have 12 people over and they want coffee?
“So you won’t have any”
All of a sudden I started to cry. She gasped.
“I’m not taking them. I don’t want you to be sad. I don’t need them. Please keep them”
“I want you to have them. They are wasted here. It isn’t the dishes. It’s just memories. Please take them”
I hung up and called my sister. That’s what I do.
Actually I thought she’d say keep them which I didn’t want to do but she didn’t.
“Of course it’s emotional but what do you need them for? Nobody entertains like that any more. In fact when it’s just the family we use paper plates and you almost always bbq for your friends.”
I felt so much better, even happy. I love Stephanie so much. I immediately called her and told her I was happy again.
“She’s happy again, Terry” I had obviously made them both feel bad about taking the fucking things. Nothing like dipping a gift in guilt before you give it. Thanks, Ma.I learned from the best.
Anyway now I’m happy and they’re happy and my sister and I are happy because we were able to discuss in detail all the sub par meals we had been served on fancy dishes. My family really holds a grudge when it comes to food.
When I say we hold a grudge I mean it. When my sister was first married (She’s been married for 54 years) she and Paul, her husband, went to dinner at another couple’s house. They had been hearing about what a terrific cook the wife was. I could tell Marcia was getting steamed just talking about it. The table was beautifully set but the meal was cheese fondue and a Pepperidge Farm cake for dessert. No apps! No salad!
I don’t like to besmirch my sister Iris’ memory and this has nothing to do with fancy dishes, just an unfortunate lunch and the length of time we can hold on to resentment for a bad meal.
I was about nine years old and my sister and her then husband George, took me out on their boat. It was a last minute thing. Come lunchtime Iris opens up a bag and pulls out jelly sandwiches on packaged rye bread. Not peanut butter and jelly, not cream cheese and jelly just jelly.
I was shocked. I know it was a Tuesday because I remember telling her that I always take a hot lunch on Tuesday. It fell on deaf ears.
Did you people read “Shogun”? There’s a scene in that book where they spend an entire night boiling some guy. It was referred to as “The night of the screams”.
That day on the boat will forever be called “the day of the jelly sandwich”