nice things.

It was after 11pm and everyone else had gone to sleep. With his parents gone, Josh and I felt free to snuggle a little closer on the couch and watch TV shows with mild adult language. I'm TV-starved, as I don't have any channels on my set at home. And while that never bothers me when I'm there, I always find myself fascinated with the tube whenever I find myself near one. But then I get sick of the commercials after a half hour.

During the first commercial break (Have they always been so loud? And idiotic? And frequent?), I decided to go raid the fridge, full of Thanksgiving leftovers. I started poking around, opening various containers and sniffing the contents. I settled on some pecan pie and started hunting for the silverware drawer. I hate having to find eating utensils in a strange house, checking every drawer and wondering what sort of backwards organization system is in use. It's a very minor, yet very irritating form of impotence.

After only two tries, I pulled open a drawer to see sets of gold gleaming knives, forks, and spoons. They glittered like the lost treasure of a pirate who had an Oneida penchant. This might tell you something about both my upbringing and my current household, but I was shocked to see that they all matched.

I have matching silverware, eight of each utensil. When I was in college, I noticed that my roommates and I kept running out of forks. So I bought a bunch more at the thrift store for a dime apiece. Then we kept running out of spoons, and I added to that collection. And finally the knives had to keep up with all the forks and spoons. I'm not sure if the people who manage to live with a matching set of silverware have bigger sets or if they do their dishes more frequently.

The sight of the shining spoons reminded me of the previous weekend, when we had helped Josh's dad move. While the guys had been out doing something manly, I helped Josh's stepmom unwrap her crystal. It was all beautiful, and the collection was extensive. It seemed like there was a shape of glass for every kind of alcohol ever invented. I gingerly unwrapped each glass and handed them to her, feeling a lot like a bull inside a china shop, one who is trying not to make a fool of himself in front of people who might be in-laws later. I felt very out of my depth, thinking about the two sets of champagne flutes that made up my mother's crystal collection. At Thanksgiving, we would pour our $4 sparkling wine into those flutes, which were still dripping wet from having the dust of the basement just washed off of them. I drink my $4 sparkling wine in white wine glasses from a set of eight, which are actually pretty nice and from which I've already broken two.

Admiring the silverware and remembering the crystal, I thought about how it would feel to own nice things. I thought about how I could buy matching silverware and I could even start collecting crystal a bit at a time. I began envisioning lovely shelves of differently shaped and sized crystalware, sparkling with cleanliness in neat rows like soldiers in dress uniform. Maybe below them would be a drawer, in a very logical and convenient location, full of the finest silverware, all matching and always enough.

And then I came to my senses and realized that even if I obtained all those nice things, they would not last. The silverware would get tarnished and lost, and new, non-matching members would somehow work their way into the ranks. The crystal would be broken, piece by piece. If something didn't get broken, it was because it was collecting dust, unused and forgotten because of the rarity of my partaking in sherry or cognac or whatever beverage that shape of glass is designed to accentuate.

And I wouldn't even care about the broken crystal or the mismatched silverware, because deep in my heart, I am not a nice things person. Might I become one someday? Sure. It seems sort of unlikely, though. I'd rather have something durable than delicate, functional than flashy. If these things are temporary anyway, they might as well be inexpensive and useful. I don't have anything against people who have nice things, they're just not for me. I just can't summon the will to care about nice things.

And then I realized (I'm still standing over the silverware drawer, are you keeping up?) that just as I had not grown up in a house full of nice things, Josh had. I wondered about the expectations of his future household. Sure, slumming it with a girl with mismatched silverware was fine now, but when he is older, will he wish that the design on his fork matched the design on his knife or that his Scotch was not served out of a juice glass?

I returned to the living room with my pecan pie and golden fork. The commercials were still on.

"Your mom has gold silverware."


"It all matches."


"You know, honey, if you marry me, our silverware is probably not going to match. And we're not going to have a bunch of nice crystal like Susan has."

"That's okay."

"I'm just letting you know, that a life with me is probably not going to be a life full of nice things. I mean, I don't know if that matters to you, because you seemed to grow up with lots of nice things."

He looked at me like I was absolutely crazy then. Then he pulled me closer to him and told me he didn't care about that kind of thing either. I believed him and offered him a bite of pie. Then I thought about how there were too many commercials on TV nowadays.

No comments: