Sunday, June 10, 2012

Meaning Full ...

I just had this thought: "I am the most sentimental person I know." (There was context. It wasn't a random thought.)

But then I had this thought override: "No, you're not, Beth. You're just the weepiest. There's a difference."

Huh.

Also: Uh oh.

I form attachments to people, that's for sure. Some marvel at my history of friend acquisition. As one once asked, "What is it with you? You meet these people and you become friends with them." He was talking about my "famous" friends.

To which I answered, "I dunno."

And I don't. I just seem to connect with people. Not all people, but a goodly percentage of folks I encounter become friends. Not talk-on-the-phone-every-week friends but meet-up-back-stage-and-go-to-dinner friends, keep-tabs-on-each-other-via-email friends.

Frankly, I credit cookies. They buy a lot of good will.

But the other day, I read this charming post on Leite's Culinaria, my online destination for charming posts (David did not write the aforelinked-to post, but he's a fine, fine writer, too) and I marveled that anyone could write something so engaging about ... a spatula.

Yep, a spatula.

I left a comment for the author, Rick Casner, because we writer types really like it when people take the time to comment on our prose. I wrote:

"What an entertaining read about a spatula! I can relate insofar as I once owned a spatula that had belonged to a great aunt. (She had left everything in her kitchen to me.) My mother loved that spatula. She never explained why, but she commented often about how much she liked to use it. So, one year, for Christmas, I put it in a box, wrapped it up, and gave it to her as a stocking stuffer. She was delighted! 'Where did you find another one?!' she asked. 'It’s mine,' I said. 'Well, now it’s yours.'

Damn if she didn’t nearly cry. I had no great affinity for it, other than its provenance. But mom loved it. Continues to love it. It’s at the front of her utensil crock, within easy reach."

But since then, I've been thinking about whether I have any similar attachment, and I'm coming up empty.

Oh, sure, I had a favorite green sweatshirt, and came to love its replacement almost as much, and I have a favorite coffee mug that's looking rather worse for the wear. (I must return to London to procure another.)

But for as much as I love to bake, I can't think of a favorite baking tool. I'm very fond of my cookies sheets, sure. And I love my brownie pan because it belonged to another of my great aunts. Her husband, one of my great uncles, engraved her name into the bottom of it so she would always be able to identify it if she took it out of the house, if it found itself commingled with other bakeware. And I don't know how anyone gets along in life without a bench scraper.

I have a go-to wooden spoon – my pudding-stirring spoon – but I rarely make pudding. Still, I like the way the end of it has darkened over time. I have one whisk I choose above all other whisks, but that's a function of need, not affinity.

I was finding all of this a bit distressing until my brain suddenly offered up this thought:

My love in the kitchen goes into my food.

Which I'm sure is true for most other cooks as well, but it's OK that I don't have a beloved spatula or measuring cups steeped in meaning.

Maybe the meaning comes later. Maybe, for some, the meaning is outside. Any 8-inch pan wouldn't have been special, but the one my cousins gave to me is meaningful because it belonged to their mom. The momness of it is what matters. Otherwise, a pan is just a pan.

Yes, that is surely true. And I'm welling up now, having written that.

Apparently, I'm somewhat sentimental after all.

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