Thursday, January 27, 2022

Drunks, Silver, and a Southern Mother

For loyal readers, bare with me, this tale was published 9 years ago. However, a new reader was curious about my mother so I thought I would share this.

As I have said before, a young woman's taste, sometimes her future, could be judged by her mere choice of silver patterns. "She chose Old Master" - "That is arrogant!" "Well don't hold it against her, it has been in her family and with the economy and all . . ." or "You know Missy chose Buttercup." - "Now wasn't that sweet." The kiss of death. "Mary Neal has registered for Bel Chateau." "Well, at least it is sterling. It is isn't it?"

I did not realize I had a choice in silver patterns when we got married. Due to both ignorance and the fact that the Hunt Brothers had cornered the silver market in 1981, few of our friends would be able to afford pieces of sterling for us, so I would be best hoping to inherit the patterns of my mother and grandmother. Therefore, my sterling pattern is Chantilly by default. (As it turned out, of the 350 guests at our wedding, I received a gravy ladle and one teaspoon - it was a wise decision on my part.)

My Mama insisted we use sterling flatware at every meal while I was growing up. In Mama's mind, the idea that my family was eating on stainless was just unfathomable. On the random birthday, anniversary, or Christmas (when she was functioning) she would give me a piece of sterling. Given it was hard for a family to eat with only a gravy ladle, one or two teaspoons, a two knives, and a fork, I found stainless the obvious choice.

Perhaps it was a good thing my childhood table was set with her Chantilly at each meal, otherwise we may have contracted some type of bungee bungee disease eating the meals she "prepared" that were semi cooked, burned to smithereens, or totally unrecognizable due to her affinity for the bottle. Maybe the alchemy of the sterling offset any affliction we may have contracted.

Given her state, at any given time while I was growing up, or the state of her kitchen for that matter, it is a testament to innate breeding of the southern woman in her, that she insisted we eat with sterling silver flatware. There were times there was no meal, but the table was always set with the silver. Often we gathered only to realize dinner was not going to be ready before bedtime so we opted for sandwiches. It would not be unusual to find a severely burnt piece of beef in the oven a day or two later. I found it easier to throw out the pan with whatever was left over from the extensive roasting. And, yes, God looks after drunks, fools, southern women, and various combinations of the former, because our home never burned down.

Years later when Mama sobered up, some things changed, but others did not. In her mind, whether one was enjoying a holiday meal with family, an everyday supper, or warmed up macaroni and cheese, it was always eaten with sterling silver.

I inherited my Mama's and my Grandmother's Chantilly flatware. If only it could talk - or not. The important thing is that it survived that generation and lived to serve another. And, although we enjoy eating our meals with sterling flatware, I can attest there is always a meal and I have yet to find a forgotten roast in the oven a day or two later - so far. But, then God looks after . . .

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