Last weekend my husband Ed and I went to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City to see “Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels.” Well, I know this is going to sound trite but there’s no way else to say it. This stuff can knock your socks off. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds. Brooches, necklaces, earrings. Pieces that could be taken apart to become pins and earrings but when put together they became a necklace. Cigarette cases, compacts, evening minaudieres. And much more.
What a delight. And to think of all those women — Wallis Simpson, Grace Kelly, Barbara Hutton — etc. — who actually bought them and wore them.
The pieces could make one’s heart go thumpety-thump. But what touched my heart more and has stayed in my mind more than this display of beautiful art was our guide, a friendly woman who looked to be about my age. In addition to lovingly describing some of the pieces we were seeing, she told us she was a widow and cautioned our group not to “put things away and never use them” but to “wear your jewelry” even if it is with jeans, and even if the jewelry is small or fake or not the kind that could knock your socks off.
It was sad to think that it was an unfortunate life transforming moment that made her realize what she could have been taking pleasure in all along.
I feel fortunate to be among those people who never needed an excuse and actually have always looked forward to using anything I own. Especially when it comes to kitchen stuff and tableware. I don’t groan at having to take out the “good china” or the “good silver” when I have company. In fact I still get a laugh when I think about how the pattern I picked was being discontinued but I bought it anyway (a theme that would repeat itself forever and ever). And I still think about how beautiful the table looked when I invited my siblings over for my first “real dinner party” — even though I don’t remember what I served.
I love the way a pretty table looks and to me, it is worth the extra effort over and above whatever it is I am cooking for the meal.
Why else would I have the stuff if not to use it?
Am I nuts?