One of the most well-known scenes from the Matrix is when Neo is told, "There is no spoon." We can while away an afternoon discussing what that means, but the gist of it is: reality is not what it seems. A recent mind-bender for me was opening my silverware drawer and seeing that indeed, there were no spoons. Where the hell did all my spoons go?
I didn't bother checking the dryer. Its only interested in my socks, and now not so much since I began safety pinning them together. This has drastically reduced the mysterious dryer-related disappearances.
Here's the deal: I live in a two-family house with -- oh my god -- my family, and so when sharing a meal it's not uncommon for plates, pots, pans, and yes, silverware to circulate freely between kitchens. So my spoons weren't missing. They had just temporarily relocated. When I paid a visit to my parents' silverware drawer I hit the mother lode of spoonage. They had so many spoons I don't even know how they were able to close the drawer.
As I was liberating my spoons, my dad wandered into the kitchen and said, "What are you doing?"
"Getting my spoons."
"You're taking our spoons?"
"No. I'm taking my spoons."
"Oh. Well, just leave the soup spoon."
"You have plenty of soup spoons in here. You don't need mine."
"No," my Dad says. "We only have one."
He comes over, sees the serving spoon in my hand and says, "Yeah. That's it. Why are you taking our Soup Spoon?" (And now I have to capitalize it because now The Spoon has become a sentient being and a proper noun.)
"Okay," I said, "First of all it's a serving spoon, not a Soup Spoon. Second of all, it's not yours. Third, you have a drawer full of actual Soup Spoons."
My Dad pouted -- pouted -- and said, "But we like this one."
And just like that I was sucked inside the matrix of a conversation I never thought I'd have, saying things I never thought I'd say, standing my ground on things that I knew didn't matter but it was too late. We were in it and I was going to see it through to the end because I am my parents' daughter. The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree and the tree is roots-deep crazy.
I said: "Dad, this is not a Soup Spoon. It's a serving spoon. And it's mine."
"But we use it."
"Too eat soup?"
"But you can't do that."
"Because it's a serving spoon!"
My dad walked off muttering to himself about spoons, ungrateful adult children, and calling his lawyer to amend the will.
I walked off muttering to myself about spoons, senior-citizen parents, and calling my therapist.
Now, I find sometimes when I get caught up in these familial exchanges that I regress and do the things I used to do when I was a kid. In this case, I went straight to my mom -- who, by the way, was eating a bowl of soup, presumably with an actual but undesirable Soup Spoon -- and said:
"Ma! Are you ok with The Spoon you're using right now?"
She said, "Yes." Which in Mom-Speak means, "No" and my dad looked at me as if to say, "See! I told you!"
And that's how I found myself the next day, during a snowstorm, shopping in Bed, Bath & Beyond for His & Hers, Big Ass Soup-slash-Serving Spoons. I, of course, had also brought along My Spoon in a Ziploc bag -- because I didn't want security to think I was stealing -- so I could measure it against The Spoons at the store to make sure I was getting the right, wrong size.
I debated giving The Spoons to my parents for Christmas, which was not too far off. But now it pained me to think of my parents eating soup with inferior spoons. Plus, when your parents are old, waiting to give them things doesn't feel like a good idea. ("Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.") And I really just wanted to see the looks on their faces.
The first thing my dad said to me was, "How much did these cost?" I didn't tell him but that didn't stop him from telling me how he could have gotten them cheaper. He can't help himself. But before he could launch into how 'back in the day you could buy a complete set of silverware for a quarter and get back change,' I told him The Spoons were cheap and that I had a 20-percent-off coupon. That seemed to make him happy and get me back in the will.
So now I got Spoons. My Parents got Spoons. All gods' children got Spoons. I also got an appointment with my therapist because I have no idea how I'm going to handle the new reality of my now missing Steak Knives.