I have four fancy forks sitting pretty as you please in my silverware drawer. They’re mixed in with the ordinary forks. The fancy forks are from my nicer stainless steel pattern. When we got married, we planned to use the fancy set for company but we really just use it for ourselves on Christmas Eve because the only time we have company is the Super Bowl and who uses real flatware at a Super Bowl party with 35 guests? Nobody.
Over the years we lost some everyday pattern forks. (How did we lose forks? Have you lost forks?) So I tossed a few of my nicer forks in the drawer to use when we run out of the plain ones.
The drawer now reminds me of the beach house we rent. We don’t know the owners, but they must be Old Money. They have two silverware drawers with nineteen forks in the two fork slots, in four different patterns. This is as it should be. New Money would have all matching forks at the beach house. Old Money has a mix. Old Money collected them over thirty years, and bought them with S&H Green Stamps in 1975. It was a frequent buyer program. The more you bought at Piggly Wiggly, the more stamps you collected. Then you redeemed the stamps for stuff at the Green Stamps store.
Wait. Do I need to explain Piggly Wiggly? It’s a grocery chain in the South. When my sister moved to Colorado, she told people about Piggly Wiggly. They didn’t believe there could be such a name. When she came back to South Carolina for a visit, she bought something at the Piggly Wiggly just so she’d have a bag with the name on it to prove Piggly Wiggly’s existence. She carried it back to Colorado and said, “See?”
If your mother used Green Stamps, then you were either middle class or Old Money. New Money is too snooty to buy silverware at the Green Stamps store. But if you were in the Green Stamps store and you needed to know who was middle class and who was Old Money, you could ask the shopper in front of you in line if she owned a second home. If she was Old Money, she owned a beach house or a mountain house in which she stored her four sets of Green Stamps silverware.
Here’s some advice. If you are New Money, there’s no shame in that. Even Old Money was New Money once upon a time. Go ahead and buy that second home. But if you want to look like Old Money, go to Wal-Mart (yes, Wal-Mart — New Money goes to Bed Bath & Beyond) and buy four sets of silverware IN FOUR DIFFERENT PATTERNS. Wash the new flatware and place it in the kitchen drawer. Shopping at Wal-Mart will help you hold on to that New Money long enough for it to mature into Old Money.
Stick a fork in me. I’m done.