The other night B and I went out to dinner at a restaurant. We'd gotten a gift certificate from a friend of ours for dog sitting their little pooch -- a mutt, mostly Havanese I think.
So we went to the restaurant. It was pretty fancy, with tablecloths on the table, a nice ambiance featuring exposed wood beams . . . and prices to match. The gift certificate was for $100, and we just about used it up.
What I especially liked about the restaurant was that every time the waiter cleared your plate, he gave you a new set of utensils. I hate it when you're in a restaurant, and the waiter clears the table, but takes the dirty silverware off your dirty plate, and then places it back on the table for you to use again. Don't you?
The waitresses at the Greek diner up on Route 6, near where I live, don't do that. And there you can get a nice meal for $12. But a lot of restaurants charging two and three times that amount do it -- presumably to save the waiters a little time and a miniscule amount of money in the dishwashing.
So anyway, last night B and I ate dinner at home. We had leftover spinach quiche that she'd made for dinner on Thursday night.
It's my job to set the table. I always put out a fork, a knife and a spoon -- whether we're going to need them or not.
So we're having quiche. It's easy to cut with your fork only. We finish eating; I clear the dirty plates, and the dirty forks. And I sit back down again, just so we can talk a little . . . as we usually do after dinner. I notice B is playing with her knife and her spoon, which she hadn't used.
Suddenly, she places them out in the center of the table. And she says, "God forbid."
I looked at her. "What?" I said.
"You never heard of that?" she asked. "You have clean silverware left over from dinner. You don't clear them into the sink to be washed. You leave them on the table for the next meal."
"Okay . . ." I said. "I guess that makes sense. But where did you get 'God forbid'?"
"I don't know. It's just an old saying," she replied. "It must come from my mother's family. She's a Methodist. You know, they don't like to see any kind of waste."
"So the idea is, God forbid you should ask someone to wash your clean silverware? God forbid that you should waste the time and the water and the money to wash a clean knife or spoon?"
"Yeah," she said. "That's the idea."
And I thought . . . it must be something left over from the Depression, when a tiny amount of money actually meant something. When frugality was a virtue, not a sign of someone being too cheap, too tight, too repressed, too unsociable.
Anyway, I appreciate the old sentiment. Good for our parents and grandparents for being so sensible, so thrifty. But I don't know if we all have to go quite that far. And please, give me a clean fork when it comes to serving up the next course.