I didn't win the lottery -- probably because I didn't buy a ticket. I don't need however many million dollars are up for grabs. I do, however, need a grapefruit spoon. That's what I've been telling myself -- that life would be better if, instead of peeling a grapefruit, I could simply cut it in half and use a grapefruit spoon to dig out the sections and enjoy them one by one.
The house of my childhood had grapefruit spoons in the silverware drawer -- two or three, with bamboo handles and little jagged teeth at their business end. Where did my mother get them? They aren't included in sets of flatware.
When was the last time I'd even seen a grapefruit spoon? I couldn't remember. My husband recalled having used a white plastic spork, back in the '80s, at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
I poked around online and, sure enough, grapefruit spoons were for sale on ebay, but the shipping and handling cost more than the spoons did. That always bugs me. So I thought, why don't I check out the local thrift store? On the shelves of its housewares department, there are two plastic dishpans full of cast-off silverware. Maybe I'd find a grapefruit spoon there.
But as soon as I had this thought, another one came whooshing in: Really, Maria, you think you're going to find a grapefruit spoon in that mess of metal and plastic utensils? Why not look for shrimp forks while you're at it?
This back and forthing occupied my brain for some days (hey, beats writing, right?) until I finally decided, what the heck, it's worth a try. So I drove to Goodwill, rooted around in the bins and -- you know what I'm going to say, don't you?
I found not one, but two, beautiful grapefruit spoons! I was so excited, I yelped with joy -- which led to a friendly exchange about thrift-store luck with the shopper next to me, and then with a bride-to-be in the next aisle who wheeled her shopping cart over to show us her own finds -- enough mason jars to decorate all the tables at her wedding reception.
We were a regular Joy Luck Club!
Rummaging in the other bin, like a gambler with an addiction, I found no more grapefruit spoons, but I did score a nutcracker and an irresistibly weird little teaspoon. Total cost: $2.
Man, did this morning's grapefruit taste good!
Last night, hubby and I took in the documentary "Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict" at Real Art Ways in Hartford. For me, it was a resonant way to end the year, as the film raises questions about what art is "up to." Unschooled as she was in art, Peggy Guggenheim had an eye for it. Works that came to be known as masterpieces by the previously unknown artists she discovered, promoted, and in some cases rescued from certain death at the hands of the Nazis, could fill a fat art history text. The film makes delicious use of candid audiotaped interviews the documentarian happened on in a basement -- talk about luck! -- and there's not much about Peggy's life and innumerable loves that goes undiscussed. What I came away wondering, though, was: why? Why did she select the works she did to add to her famous collection? What was it about each of them that made her pulse race? True, in some cases, the answer is obvious. Who wouldn't covet Brancusi's sleek, elegant, inevitable-feeling Bird in Space ? But what did she see in cubism, say, and in Pollock, that just about everyone else was missing? Maybe she was simply registering "the shock of the new," but, if so, did she buy any shocking new clunkers along the way? Did she go down any art paths that turned out to be dead ends? Probably, but for her, collecting art seemed to be its own reward, especially after she gave up her gallery and started developing the collection that's housed in her Venice museum. If there's a lesson for us in Peggy Guggenheim's life, it may be to trust ourselves more, to care less about what others think and say. Over the years, Peggy was insulted, dismissed, and treated roughly -- including physically -- by people she'd helped and loved. Asked if she felt certain artists she'd made famous should have shown her more gratitude, she said no, that they had fulfilled their end of the bargain by producing beautiful work. May we cultivate such equanimity in 2016!