Hi, Ho Silver
A tarnished history
By Susan Kelly
Itís June, the traditional month for weddings, though there are no “traditions,” much less rules anymore when it comes to weddings. To all my cousins, and the parents of all those bridesmaids and groomsmen, I’m sorry, but there just wasn’t room. And while wedding stories abound, my eternal favorite will be the hungover groomsman who projectile vomited at the altar of First Presbyterian. Mainly because it overshadows the groomsman who began a toast at my wedding with the alphabet, and by the letter F, it was clearly a disaster — and there were still 20 letters to go. Thirty-nine years later, my mother has yet to forgive him.
Used to be that sterling silver was The Gift To Get. The Hunt brothers in Texas were buying up all the silver when I got married, so even a humble teaspoon deserved a two-sided thank you note. My grandmother had earlier “started” my silver pattern with a silver-backed hand mirror, which I found particularly useless except to practice smiling without showing my gums, a flaw I was then obsessing over. (She’d also given me a circle pin. Seriously: I’d rather have had Love’s Baby Soft perfume, Jean Naté bath splash, anything.)
There used to be rules for silver, too. About putting it in the dishwasher; about not using it with eggs or mayonnaise. You won’t find silver at Pottery Barn, or Lowe’s, which is where couples register these days. You also won’t find it on my sideboard, because, having grown up racing through my grandmother’s dining room and hearing the rattle of the silver service on her sideboard, I vowed that old-person tinkle would never happen to me. So, I ditched my mother-in-law’s silver tea service this year. My mother-in-law taught me the best way to polish silver. You line the sink with tinfoil, dump in generous amounts of Spic and Span and ammonia, and throw in the silver. Then stand back, because the fumes are completely lethal. Take that, tarnish!
The only piece of silver I’d truly like to own is the one I don’t: a wee watering can no bigger than a thimble, and meant to dispense a drop or two of vermouth in a martini. At my house, we just whisper “vermooooth” over the gin, and that’s sufficient. Still, if I ever find the watering can, I’m buying it. If nothing else, I can put it on a charm bracelet. Because, you know, everyone wears charm bracelets so much nowadays. OH
Susan Kelly is a blithe spirit, author of several novels, and proud new grandmother.