Thursday, January 31, 2013


I decided to finally use my nana’s glasses. I’d been carrying them around, from house to house, for thirty years. Thirty years! I didn’t want to break them. They were too sentimental to be mixed up with the I Love Horses mug and the cereal bowls in the sink. Also, I thought they were ugly. But they’ve somehow gotten beautiful, transforming themselves inside yellowed newspapers and a Pabst Blue Ribbon box, like a butterfly transforms itself inside a cocoon. Though they look exactly the same. Now I love them. Not only because they were hers, but because they’ve gotten old enough to be cool. I’m waiting to see Don holding one on Mad Men.

So now I’m looking around for what else is cool. I hate it when I suddenly remember something that at one time I thought was ugly, mostly out-of-style items that weren’t old enough, that I got rid of. I might have called these things “hideous.” Then I remember that I gave it away, or worse, threw it away, like the floor lamp with three cone-shaped metal shades perforated in an atomic starburst design to let the light shine through. I threw this cool piece into the garbage when we moved to Sturm Lane (our first house in Jackson) and were cleaning it out because it was an estate sale and it was full of junk.

We had to get a Dumpster, there was so much junk in the house. Mostly old stuff, so I was thrilled. It had been an old man’s summer home in the woods near the lake, a sort of Adirondacks in central Jersey, because that’s what Jackson was in the thirties up until the nineties (when suburban sprawl took over), Adirondack-like, mixed with chicken farms, and towards the end, horse farms. The kids (kids—they were senior citizens themselves at this point) sold the place with everything in it, picking out choice items they wanted, and perhaps fought over, like the oak barrister bookcase and a round table with paw feet, leaving us the rest.

I could kick myself for throwing out the floor lamp. And the old Westinghouse stove in the basement. But I kept the God Bless Our Home picture,

the maple bed, Bakelite silverware,

and the dining room table where Charlie Sturm, the old guy who lived next door and who was born in the house, got his tonsils taken out on the top of. That’s what they did in those days on the tops of tables between the bread baking and pie making—performed minor surgery like tooth extractions and tonsillectomies.

I started using the glasses because I stumbled upon them when I was unpacking and saw how beautiful they had become. I figured, what the hell? So what if I break a few? If I don’t use them, my daughters will be carrying them around in a Pabst Blue Ribbon box when I croak. Is that why I’m saving them? So they can save them?

I’ve already broken one. They are delicate. You have to be careful you don’t bang them into the side of the sink or clunk them into the faucet. They are not dishwasher safe. Forget putting them into the microwave because of the gold leaves. I’m not doing that again. I put one of my new antique china plates that have a thin gold band around the edge (I didn’t think it was real gold) into the microwave and the thing started sparking like crazy. Not that I have a reason to put a drinking glass into the microwave. But I wouldn’t try it if I did.

Kurt said, “A-huh,” when I told him that we were going to start using these glasses. He was skeptical that this was a good idea (due to their ugliness, not their fragility) until I said, “Don’t they remind you of something on Mad Men? Wouldn’t they be perfect for cocktails? This one is a rocks glass!” I held one up and turned it in the light.

Kurt endorses anything that supports the making of a good cocktail. He started thinking the glasses had become beautiful too.

I don’t know how I’m going to talk him into the puffy pictures I’ve been carrying around for twenty years.

The last time he saw them he said they were hideous. I used to think the same thing until last week, when I spotted them in the corner of the attic, they suddenly looked incredibly cool.