Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Break With the Past

 Bacchus, The Roman god of wine and intoxication
Yesterday I reached onto top very top shelf of one of my kitchen cabinets to retrieve a porcelain server that my friend 'Jeff' (a pseudonym for my real friend's name used to protect his privacy) had given to me and Bill many years ago (1968) as a Christmas present.  'Jeff' used to work for John Wanamaker's department store in Philadelphia, PA.  He knew that I liked expensive knick knacks (I've since gotten over that compulsion) and thought I would like the beautiful (and expensive) Italian gravy boat with a lid.  Of course I was very pleased when I received this gift because Bill and I were just starting out keeping house together.  This server would go into my dining room cabinet for display and I would bring it out on special occasions.  Of course, what happened was that I never brought it out.  It was always on display. I never used it once.  NOT ONE TIME.  

I reached for it yesterday because I was thinking of donating it to a local Thrift Store that specializes in 'upscale' junk (Encore Thrift - sponsored by Clear Space Productions in Lewes, DE).  I brought it down, looked at its beauty, remembering the occasion in which it was given to us, and I decided that I didn't want to give it up yet.  It still brought back good memories.  Bill came into the kitchen as I was putting it back on the top shelf.  He asked me what I was doing and as I turned around to answer him I realized that the top of the server hit the top of the cabinet and came crashing down on my black granite counter top in the kitchen, shattering into many pieces.  My heart dropped as I looked at the many shards of now shattered porcelain of the Fancy Expensive Italian Gravy Boat That Was Only To Be Used For Special Occasions and realized that there was no repairing the top.  I would have taken a picture but my heart was too broken.  I didn't want to memorialize the destruction.  But then and there I decided that the remainder of the gravy boat and the other gifts that 'Jeff' had given Bill and I in subsequent Christmases were going to be given to the thrift store.  

I packed up the Italian gravy boat (sans lid that had a porcelain asparagus as a handle), the saucer that it sat on in a box, cushioned with styrofoam peanuts and newspapers.  I also packed up another server that had pansies as a handle.  Also there was a matching sugar and creamer set with the same pansy design.  They were all going to go to the thrift store that afternoon.  I wanted them out of the house immediately.  

I see the irony of this 'break', both literally and figuratively with my friendship with 'Jeff.' Of course I am now in the 'clean out' phase of my life.  There are still so many 'things' in this house that I don't need and will never yes that I should get rid of.  I have managed to do some clean out but it has been very difficult for me because I am a sentimental person.  A lot of stuff I keep because it does bring back good memories.  I have a load of things of my Mother's that I'm still hanging onto.  These are personal items that were cleaned out of her house in Pennsylvania after she moved to live with my brother in South Carolina in October of 2009.  My brothers had packed up everything of hers and when she died this past September they sent most of her things like her clothing to the Salvation Army and the local thrift store.  I took the personal items like her jewelry (all of which I gave to her). Her things are sitting in the corner of my basement now. I've put some of her teddy bears in the bedroom that I reserved for her but she never used.  I will keep them there until I die because it make me feel good when I go into 'her bedroom' and see them.

Pictured at the beginning of this posting is a porcelain replica of the Roman God Bacchus.  It was the first gift given to me by my friend 'Jeff.'  I told him I liked Royal Doulton figurines.  So what does he give me?  A beer mug of the God of Drunks!  What I really wanted was one of those beautiful, lithe female figurines by Royal Doulton.  But that was my friend 'Jeff."  Back then he was an alcoholic and loved to party.  Of course he would give me a beer mug.  So it was very appropriate that he would give me a beer mug celebrating the God of Partying.  

I placed Bacchus beer mug in my dining room cabinet and it has been there ever since he gave it to use forty-five years ago.  Whenever I look at it I am reminded of our friendship and all the good times we used to have together.  

Yesterday's 'break' may have signified the end of our friendship as I once knew it but this one, gross, ugly, expensive beer mug that I will never ever use will always be in my dining room cabinet to remind me of our happy and long friendship.  

Provincetown, Mass 1974


  1. Note: Just as I finished this posting, I noticed on my Blog Roll that the news of the death of Elizabeth Taylor. More irony today, another break with the past. This is another time I will remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news of her passing. Rest in peace dear Elizabeth.

  2. Ron, sorry about your server. Seriously, I am. I know how it feels to have things, that you love, break. I think I wrote about that in my first post when I started my de-cluttering process. These things tend to take a strong grip on me and I feel awful, that I "feel awful", when they break. I cried more over a broken lamp than I did when my grandfather died. That's not right. But I still have stuff that I may never get rid of. Good thing that I have four children who can split it all.
    Your Friend, m.

  3. You know, Ron, I can't wait to meet you someday. And I mean meet you for real, not just unknowingly stand near you at giant gay rights demonstration in DC. I love your blog posts. You write them as if you are sitting across the kitchen table having a casual conversation with me. I really enjoy that.

  4. Ron,

    Looking at your little profile picture across from it is striking. There is a similarity in your mug and the mug.


  5. Those are the important memories to keep. All the good times that you've had with "Jeff" and let all the "Mutt" memories go.

  6. Cubby,
    Thank you very much for the compliment on my writing. I write just as it comes to me, au naturale so to speak. I'm looking forward to meeting you someday too.

  7. paradykes,

    I have taken your advice already, I keep my good memories of my times with 'Jeff'.

  8. Lar,

    Now that you mention it, there is a striking similarity between my profile picture (mug) and the picture of the mug...except I don't have grapes hanging from my head.

  9. Mark,
    I felt like part of me broke when the lid to that server broke. Like you, this was part of my decluttering process. Perhaps it was just as well it broke because I was putting it back, intending to keep it for who knows how long? When the asaparagus handle got knocked off and fell to the granite counter top, that was probably a sign to me to stop hanging on to these 'things.' Now next week I will begin serious decluttering. I needed a boot and as painful as it was to see part of that server (and my past) destoyed, it was probably necessary.

  10. Yes Anne Marie, I would like to meet you someday also. I'll be going back to Philly this summer for a day trip. Perhaps we can meet for lunch at Woody's.

  11. Told ya, the bird did bring bad luck :)

  12. Tai,

    I thought of you immediately when I saw that lid come crashing down.


  13. I love Bacchus, and I confess; the mug is fabulous!
    If I had one, i would use it indeedy.

  14. Spo,
    Do you want the Bacchus mug? I would be glad to send it to you. I have no use for it other than a memory of a friendship of the past. I would be very happy if I could find a home for it where it was appreciated.


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