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Cutlery WarZ of Shakespearean Proportions

During our 30+ years of marriage, my husband and I have had more than one skirmish over dinnerware and cooking utensils. (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 Michael Aram's gorgeous, Fan-Z twig cutlery on Pinterest a couple of years ago. I nearly swooned. I sped to his website to make a purchase, but at the starting price of $15 per utensil, I realized that if I bought so much as a fork, my husband would stab me with it when he found out what it cost. Hoping to avoid newspaper headlines like Husband Murders Wife With Gold-plated Sticks That Were Later Revealed To Be Flatware, I appeased my deep need to own nature-esque cutlery by pinning photos of the enticing twigware to Pinterest and searching online for any similar products (which all turned out to be equally expensive). I bid my time, hoping for a sale of at least 80% off but "said sale" never came so I was stuck with eating meals with my totally mundane flatware.

But then one day a miracle transpired! Google knew I was seeking branch-y 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, although I was the only kid in my third grade class to own a Twiggy Barbie.) Hit by a combined jolt of dopamine and shopping adrenaline triggered by price tag of only $99 for a service of twenty, my inner 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, before other like-minded, flatware-seeking folks got wind of the too-good-to-be-true pricing and snatched them all up. (Plus I had a 20% off coupon! Woohoo!) As a karmic bonus for my patience, Pier One even offered a color selection of gold, silver or bronze stems. It was a difficult decision, but I opted for gold.

Next I came up with a plan to offset any homicidal urges that my new purchase might evoke in my husband. I simply 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 birthday shopping.

The twigware was so glowingly beautiful that I couldn't bring myself to relegate it 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 daily. I couldn't wait for a special occasion to treat guests to a ravishing tablescape featuring the shining sprigs.

See? Isn't my twigware spectacular?

(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 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 gently admonished him in my best Martha Stewart-style voice. "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, constantly complaining 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 regarding my FanZfied 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 journey from plate to palate. But STILL! It was sooo PRETTY! But 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 by quietly setting the table as inconspicuously as possible. When Dan took his seat and saw my resplendent flatware shining up at him 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.)

Weeks later, my chef-y husband was listening to a radio interview which was, of all things, about cutlery. During the interview, the know-nothing guest 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 by brandishing a hoity-toity magazine article (written for people with good taste) about setting a table. It 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.

We were at an impasse.

Unfortunately, Dan got the last laugh during a vacation in the Cotswolds because I made the mistake of purchasing tickets for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Titus Andronicus. If you are familiar with Shakespeare's bloodiest tragedy, then you will understand why Dan now quotes 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" are literal. Titus' daughter, Lavinia, is assaulted by two villainous brothers who 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 victim’s maimed wrists. Naturally, Dan had to see the movie after we saw the play (also impressively gory) and between the two productions, he had all the ammunition he needed regarding my cutlery.

Sadly, 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 with an expression of agony on his face. And as he wiggles his fingers like branches in a Lavinia-like manner he'll taunt me by asking, "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 anything 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 must have been talking about cutlery.

Not to be outdone by my thespian hubby, here is my latest Shakespearian Selfie, featuring my debut as Lavinia using 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,

just so you know.

~ 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!

Hence, my story has a semi-happy ending.


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