Monday, March 7, 2011

Life is Like a Fruit Cocktail. (?)

Instant gratification is not soon enough.
**Meryl Streep

Instant gratification takes too long.
**Carrie Fisher

HANK: Would you eat your dessert first? (If no one was watching?) Are you a best-first? Or a best-for-last? And if you get something new, do you wear it or use it? Or do you save it?

Deb's question last week about celebration got me thinking. I have a fridge full of champagne, and an amazing new purse my husband gave me as a gift. What connects those--is that they are both untouched.
I'm "saving" them for the right time.

I think, oh, it's winter, the purse will get spots on it, and get ruined in the news car, and I'll wait til spring to bring it out.

And the occasion is never big enough for the champagne--okay, we had some when each book sold, but that's...about it. And goodness knows, enough wonderful things have happened that I COULD "justify" it...but I think, oh, gee. Pride goeth before a fall, so I don't want to be too happy or it'll be over. Okay. That's neurotic.

I was packing the other night, and in my closet I found some cute tank tops with the price tags still on them--I must have been "saving" them for exactly the right time. And I forgot about them.

Sometimes delayed gratification is a good thing, right? I won't open presents until the actual event holiday or birthday, and I love to see them all sitting there, waiting for me, surprises. (Sometimes I read the last page of a book first, but that's different. And another blog.)

But I'm thinkin'--I'm going to try to be a bit more go-for-it. Are you a saver? Or a user?

ROSEMARY: I like to think of myself as a "don't postpone joy" kind of gal but I too have dresses with the tags still on them and I have to force myself to use the pricey handbag. I won't wear the Hermes scarf if I'm going out for Italian food (olive oil....)And my "good" china and silver...rarely touched. That's a pity, I should work on that.

Other than that - Be Here Now, baby. Sometimes a glorious sunset is reason enough to crack open that bubbly. Or a bad day. or a great review. Or an excellent random on your ipod...that first springlike day when you can wear open-toed shoes...all causes for celebration!

JAN: I think I'm going to object to the term "user" mostly because the way the kids use it.

HANK: Oh, I agree. Can we think of something else?

JAN: On champagne -- here's the problem. Once you open the bottle you are pretty much committed to either drinking the whole thing or throwing out half. I even once bought a special device designed to preserve the carbonation, but I don't use it. It's sort of the culture of champagne.

My mother used to instruct us to buy her a bottle of Emeraude when we asked what she wanted for Christmas or her birthday. When she died we found a closet full of twenty Emeraude bottles unopened.

But she insisted on using the sterling silver and china for everyday, so who can figure? Like my mother, I'm a little bit of both. There are bottles of champagne I still haven't opened, but all my new and favorite clothing gets worn. No price tags still in my closet!

RHYS: I'm afraid I'm like Hank. As a child I used to nibble around the pastry edge of jam tarts until I finally got to the jammy center. But it's a habit I'm trying to cure. When I go through my closet I always come across items I loved but barely wore because they were too good for everyday and should be worn on special occasions--BUT they are now out of fashion.

HANK: Yes! Yes! Me, too.

RHYS: So I'm trying to make myself wear that new horrible expensive new Chico's ensemble untl it falls to pieces.

One trouble is that I'm a messy person. If I have a pale outfit on I can guarantee I'll spill spaghetti sauce. One of my most embarrassing moments was doing a daytime TV show sitting on one of those high stools. My segment ended and I had to stay perched on my stool while they did a cooking demonstration of---spaghetti sauce. The chef then handed me a plate to try, on camera. Yikes!
But I am getting better about some things. I now bring out the Royal Doulton china whenever we have guests. But all those silver serving dishes wrapped away in a closet? Bringing those out would mean cleaning them. I draw a line.

HALLIE: Great question, Hank. Way back when, the test on this was how you ate your canned fruit cocktail. Remember? Diced up pear, peach, grapes, pineapple and a smidgen of cherry. Were you an all-at-oncer? Or start with the cherry or end with it? I'm a cherry-last person, even though I could swear that all the fruit tastes the same.

But my new clothes get worn. Sometimes out of the store (after I pay!) The only problem is that I confess to shopping end-of-season sales, which means I might have forgotten about the tank top before it's warm enough again to wear it.

I love that closet full of twenty unopened Emeraude bottles. When my father-in-law died he had about 30 unused potholders.

No one has been able to figure it out.

ROBERTA: Thirty unused potholders, wow, that's unusual! Now we see where Jerry gets his packrat tendencies:).

My husband hates that I'm reluctant to use the china and the silver, so I'm slowly getting better at it. If you own a few extra plates, makes it a little easier. And there's always Ebay, right? But I have a set of lovely green water goblets that belonged to my grandmother. They have yet to make it to the table, because what would happen if one got broken? they're irreplaceable.

Fruit cocktail: grapes and cherry only for me.

HANK: My step-mother (well, sort of, I guess, let's just call her the fabulous Juliet) gave me HER mother''s antique glass dessert dishes--the top half, glass, is shaped like a champagne glass, then they fit into sterling silver holders. (Oh, if I were home I'd take a photo) I'm terrified to use them, because if one breaks-well, there are no others.
But did she mean for me to keep them in the pantry?

Okay, here's my proposal. Let's choose a day, then USE THE CHINA!
How about you, Reds? Use the heck out of it? Or save it?


  1. I just don't know how to get around the fear of breaking one of those beautiful red glasses or the plate with the gold around the rim. I'm pleased that I have two glass-doored cabinets to put the precious items in so I can at least gaze at them every day.
    Champagne is not an issue - let's open it and drink it all! Fruit cocktail? The anticipation of eating it all and saving the cherry for last was huge. The cherry was like a reward for waiting.


  2. I know's so strange. Psychologists must have a word for it..or maybe it;s just fear of lss. But not-having the red plate is worse than not-using.

    Maybe we shold just think of them as decorations, not as plates. Becaue now not only are we not using them, we feel GUILTY about not using them.

  3. I would love to wear nice clothes everyday, but I have four small children who like peanut butter and still spit up on me.

    Fruit cocktail? Always, always eat the cherries first, then the grapes. The pears are always eaten last.

  4. My mother in law gave me a full set of hideous pink china, which I dutifully kept and brought out only when she was a guest. After she passed away, I gave the set to my long-time senior neighbour.

    Now they have the love they deserve.

    I'm still pondering what to do with the silver plate goblets, wrapped up in the dining room sideboard.

    I save the cherries for last, just so the flavour can linger for a while.

    I wear "too good for everyday" suit jackets with jeans, just so they get some use.

    ...and I never look forward to the end of a great book.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Sandra - Here's the thing about the silver that my mother figured out a long time ago.

    If you USE it all the time, you wash it, keeping the tarnish at bay. So that unless you really, really want to spiff it up -- you don't have to polish it.

    Melissa - I'm a cherries first person. Actually, in the case of that canned fruit cocktail -- which I remember so well - I was a cherry only girl. I pushed the rest away.

  7. I'm typically a "save it for the right time" type person. But two items recently have me changing my ways ... somewhat. First, I bought some really expensive clothes as part of a new look, and I feel less guilty about the cost if I wear them more, and get the cost-per-wear down to something reasonable. Second, a dear family friend gave me an unbelievably generous gift of an antique watch. And since I'm sure if I "saved it for special occasions" I would never put it on, I wear it. Every day. And I think of her every day with love.

    I guess I'm becoming a "use it and appreciate it" person.

  8. Yes, Tammy, very wise! Clothing amortization. Yes, that makes sense...

  9. Three thoughts...

    Erma Bombeck wrote a great piece not long before she died about things she wished she'd done differently. One was she wished she'd used that "special" candle instead of waiting and letting it melt in the sun.

    My grandmother passed away recently and we found most of the carefully selected Christmas gifts family members had given her in recent years still in their gift boxes in her closet. Never used.

    With fruit cocktail and ice cream sundaes I save the cherry for last - because I like the cherry aftertaste.

  10. I think The Eagles said it well: Everything, all the time.

  11. Everything all the time, I like that motto.

    I did have to look ahead in a recent book because a dog disappeared and I needed to know if he came back home...

    Usually though, if it's a great book, I slow down rather than leap ahead.

  12. Oh, REDS! PLease vote for your favorite sleuths --Charlie McNally? Paula Holliday? Many the battle of the mysteries...March (Mystery) Madness!

  13. Okay, I know this is probably really weird, but I don't LIKE the cherries! I not only took them out of fruit cocktails when I was a kid (and Shirley Temples. Anyone remember those?) but I still take them out of drinks.

    Other than that, I'm all for Everything All the Time. And I think anything Erma Bombeck said should go down as law. How sane we would all be!!!

  14. Cool stuff coming this week...make sure you come back.

    TOmorrow True Crime Tuesday,

    Wednesday an inside look at..well, its a surprise.

    Thursday, if you're writig a mystery, we have the scoop on a great opporutnity.

    Friday, one of the absolute icons of the mystery community--really, you'll be delighted.

    And Saturday, a special offer for Jungle Reds to one of our favorite conferences!

  15. I can remember getting and loving a Lite-Brite when I was a kid. But after making a couple of pictures, I stopped using it to "save it" because it was sooo cool. I'm sure my mom figured that I didn't like it when she finally got rid of it on a move. I don't think I'm that extreme, but there are still signs that I like to save things for a special occasion.

    With books, sometimes I wait until reading a long-awaited title, mostly because I know it will be over so fast. I used to occasionally read the last page in a book, but switching to an e-reader cured me of that.

  16. I have never read the end of the book first.
    I admit to clothes in my closet with tags that I have not worn. I won't even go into the brand new pair of New Balance sneakers, in the box with tags that I just sent to the thrift store. Must have purchased on them sale ages ago and they were now two sizes too small.
    The china and crystal I got for wedding gifts has been used for holiday and special events but none of my children wants them.
    The lovely dessert goblets that came down from my Nana through her mother that I’ve always been afraid to use, still sit in the closet…unused.

    I’m getting better. I do use the perfume the kids purchase as gifts for every day. I wear those special clothes out to eat and tuck a napkin in the neckline. Doesn’t mean I they stay unspotted; I still get stains sometimes.
    I do drink the wine, but probably not as often as I should, since I had to dust the bottles.

    And the cherries, definitely last…to savor the flavor.