During our 30+ years of marriage, my husband and I have had more than one skirmish over certain dinnerware items that have made their way into our home. (Haven't we all?) Our most recent clash was over cutlery (the most dangerous kind of kitchen conflict because it involves sharp, pointy objects).
It all began when I stumbled across some of Michael Aram's gorgeous twig cutlery on Pinterest a couple of years ago. I nearly swooned. I googled my way over to the website to make a purchase, but at the starting price of $15 per utenisil, I realized that even if I bought a single spoon, my husband would stab me with it when he found out what I paid for it. Instead of buying my way into the local headlines (Husband Murders Wife With Gold-plated Sticks That Were Later Revealed To Be Flatware), I compensated for my deep need to own nature-inspired eating utensils and pinned every photo I could find of the enticing twigware (along with any similar products - which all turned out to be equally expensive).
For over a year I bided my time, hoping for a sale (of at least 80% off). "Said sale" never came and I continued to eat meals with my suddenly-mundane flatware. But then! One day, a Pier One miracle transpired! Google knew I was on the look out for branch-based cutlery, so it fed me an ad about Pier One's latest product: Twiggy flatware!!! (Twiggy as in twigs - not as in the 60's model Twiggy. Please folks. I'm not THAT weird. But I must admit that I was the only kid in my third grade class to have a Twiggy Barbie doll so, apparently, I was into esoteric trends early on.)
And so, after being hit with a jolt of adrenaline by the Google ad, my inner twig-loving, credit card-carrying, bargain-hunter felt the need to rush to the nearest Pier One store and purchase the incredibly-affordable service (for twelve) at break-neck speed, fearing the store would sell out when other like-minded, fancy flatware-seeking folks got wind of their too-good-to-be-true pricing. (And I had a 20% off coupon! Woohoo!) As a karmic bonus for my years of patience, Pier One even offered a color selection of gold, silver or bronze stems. It was a difficult decision, but I opted for gold.
Before my husband could kill me, I told him I had just purchased my birthday gift -- from him -- and that it would be something he could use in the kitchen. He was somewhat annoyed when I told him it was flatware (since we had plenty) but he was happy to be relieved from the duty of shopping for my birthday gift.
The twigged forks, knives and spoons were so glowingly beautiful that I couldn't bring myself to relegate them to a kitchen drawer; so I arranged them in separate glasses and pitchers on open shelves so that their golden limbs could be displayed and enjoyed on a daily basis. I couldn't wait for a special occasion to treat guests to a ravishing tablescape that featured the shining sprigs.
See? Isn't my twigware spectacular?
(Pssst! The matching leafy serverware was a splurge from Anthropologie. Shhhh.)
When a special dinner occasion finally arose, I proudly set the table with my eye-catching wares, only to have my husband look up from the kitchen stove to say (in front of the guests): "Awww! We're not eating with THOSE things are we? They're weird!"
(Way to host a dinner Dan!) Nonplussed, I continued to place the stunning twiglery around each place setting and gently admonished him (in my best Martha Stewart-style voice) saying: "I know that the stems are thin but, like chopsticks, they'll make for a slower-paced, more considered dining experience. You'll get used to them."
He didn't. And said so many times during dinner. He continuously complained (and explained) that the "stupid sticks" weren't balanced properly and that they rolled around between his fingers, making it difficult to insert food into his inconsiderate pie-hole. I mean mouth. A couple of the other guests agreed with him (because two of the guests were my sons, who are equally opinionated in regards to my eccentric tastes). I had to admit that the delightful cutlery did pose a bit of a challenge when it came to spearing and balancing food for the quick journey from plate to tongue. But STILL! It was sooo PRETTY! When I made that argument, my sons rolled their eyes and my husband made the decree, "We are NEVER eating with these stupid twig things again!"
The next time we hosted a meal, I attempted to slip my twigware past my husband and quietly set the table as inconspicuously as possible. When Dan took his seat and saw my resplendent flatware, shining up at him from his place setting, he said, "I'm getting some real silverware so I can actually eat!" and rose from the table. He returned with handfuls of our everyday, boring flatware and handed it out to everyone. I declined an additional set of cutlery and stubbornly ate my meal with my opulent utensils, while trying not to let my twiggers twirl between my fingers in-between bites. (That didn't sound right . . . but you know what I mean.)
Sometime later, my chef-y husband was listening to a radio interview which was, of all things, about cutlery. In the midst of the interview, the no-nothing who was speaking began to discuss the myriad of flatware design choices, specifically mentioning "there's even flatware shaped like twigs, which no one would ever buy". Or something along those lines.
Dan used the interview as ammunition against my twigware, but I retaliated with my own hoity-toity magazine article, written for people with good taste, that specifically featured twiggy flatware (probably Michael Aram's and not Pier One's) as one of the most beautiful and elegant choices for table settings.
Unfortunately, Dan got the last laugh and upperhand on our most recent vacation, and all because I bought tickets to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Titus Andronicus. If you are familiar with Shakespeare's bloodiest tragedy, then you will understand why Dan now refers to this "special scene" when he speaks of my beloved cutlery:
Speak, gentle niece, what stern ungentle hands
Have lopp'd and hew'd and made thy body bare
Of her two branches, those sweet ornaments,
Whose circling shadows kings have sought to sleep in . . .
For those of you who are not familiar with this particular play of the Bard's; allow me to elaborate.
[Beware! Upcoming Shakespeare Spoiler Alert!]
The lines referring to "lopping and hewing and baring a body of two branches" means exactly what it says: Titus' daughter, Lavinia, is assaulted by two villainous brothers and they cut off her hands. In the movie version, directed by Julie Taymor, the play on words is taken even further and the evil brothers insert actual branches into their victims maimed wrists. (I actually got a nauseous the first time I saw it many, many, years ago.) Of course, Dan had to see the movie before we went to see the play (which was also impressively gory--especially for a stage production).
So now, whenever Dan catches me eating with my twigware (because I insist on using it when I'm eating a meal on my own), he contorts himself into a treelike pose and, with an expression of agony on his face, he wiggles his fingers like branches in a Lavinia-like manner and says, "Are you going to eat now . . . with your Titus silverware?"
I remain undeterred by my husband's Shakespearian displays, happy in the knowledge that I simply have good taste (even though it takes a little longer for me to actually taste food because my twigware always twirls uncontrollably between my fingers and thumb when I try to take a bite).
Dan, giving me his "Titus-look" outside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
We were probably talking about cutlery.
Not to be outdone by my thespian hubby, here is my latest Shakespearian Selfie; featuring my debut as Lavinia (sporting my golden-branch cutlery for hands). I would have asked Dan to do his Lavinia impersonation, but nobody wants to see that.
By the way, it's not easy taking a selfie while in the throes of performing a Shakespeare tragedy. I think they should really create a new Oscar category for this kind of selfie-acting. Hey! I could be a contender!
~ Post Script ~
If this post grossed you out, then you REALLY don't want to know what Titus cooked up for dinner in the final scene of Shakespeare's play!
Oh, and also . . . I found a really cool (and cheap) branch-like candelabra at Target and painted it gold to match my twigware. Miracle of miracles, Dan actually likes it. At least I get to use one twiggy thing when we have guests! So my story has a semi-happy ending.