Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Am A Bad Borrower.

I got the greatest facebook message from my pal Jan earlier this week that she had baked some of my favorite MarthaStewart cookies for her roadtrip to Memphis and that she'd just made a spare batch for me and would drop them off on the deck of depravity on her way out of town -- to be shared with the packing/painting crew. I had just been thinking I needed to do that for them, but the thought (or time) to get to the bakery had eluded me. It's like when you take cupcakes to your friends and relatives in the Hospital -- even if they can't eat, they can use them to reward the nurses (who'll then make a special effort to make sure they don't die). So you can't imagine how much I love Jan right now.

But I am a little worried about our friendship, because as I unpacked the cookies.... I noticed I have practically accumulated an entire set of Jan's dishes by now. This means a couple things. First, I have not returned her plates with reciprocal goodies (as dictated by Southern hospitality). It's true I can't bake, but I could've certainly returned them laden with a few pork chops, or rib-eyes. Second, I haven't even had the decency to return her plates clean and empty.

I was reminded of this because I had just been reading Beth Howard's blog, where she had posted an entry on  Good Borrowers, Bad Borrowers. And I am a Bad Borrower. This is more noticeable as I am in the middle of packing to move and have observed a lot of things around here that don't belong to me. (Though today I found a full bottle of Maker's Mark, so that will be a pleasant surprise for some guests.)

Beth's opinions about graciousness and hospitality mean a lot to me because she is The Pie Girl, and the reason I know about things like World Pie Day (although it is possible that it was National Pie Day, and I inflated it slightly; I could no more bake a pie than I could fly to the moon; my gal Rache was responsible for the execution around these parts -- we enjoyed both coconut cream and chocolate thanks to her). You can read more about Beth (and pie) in this Portland Tribune article.

One of Beth's Bad Borrower friends has one of her grandmother's Limoges plates, and I practically got the shakes just reading about it. I have a Tupperware container of Chef Tom's Thomas Keller chicken and dumplings in my fridge right now, and I am in a state that I will somehow misplace it before I can get it back to him pre-Move. Tupperware is even more sacred than china or crystal in my family. My own mother will barely let me out of her house with leftovers in her Tupperware without some sort of signed affidavit ensuring its safe return.

At least partly because of that (and because of my own bad-borrower tendencies), I just do not lend anything. I give away lots of things, but that's as much as I can do. Food goes out the door all the time, but it's always in GladWare or leftover carryout containers (I particularly recommend Thai as those bowls seem to be both dishwasher and far as I can tell; I hope I haven't poisoned anyone with them). I don't lend books, for example, but I'm happy to give them away when I'm done with them, with the encouragement that they get passed along. My Sailor apologized profusely that my copy of Bill Buford's Heat now lives somewhere in Greece, but it doesn't bother me. As I told him, as soon as I hand something off, I have mentally let it go. I do love that particular book, but he was moving to Italy, so he needed it more than I did. I could have Amazon'd it to him of course, but I felt like he also needed my margin notes, my highlights and my post-it notes. For a writer, I keep very few books...very few movies...

I may accidentally accumulate things, but I don't intentionally collect anything --  it all reads too much like clutter to the Rainman in me. It's all I can do not to throw away big stacks of photos in The Move.

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear! I didn't mean to guilt-trip you, Ace. I only meant to guilt-trip my neighbors. HA! At least in your case you are AWARE these items you've collected don't belong to you and haven't just ASSUMED them to be your own. I know my Limoges plate is safe with Sylvia, but if I don't get that ceramic bowl back from Elizabeth I'm going to set up camp outside her door. As a rule I don't get attached to material things -- I'm with you on the BOOK POLICY, read them and give them away, SHARE -- but I admit Tupperware is pretty sacred.