Monday, July 16, 2007

My new "I love you" cheese tray

I stopped by a garage sale, on the way home from the Farmer's Market, Saturday morning. It was a random stop, at a large, regal home. An elegant older couple sat outside, with very few wares, but each seemed an absolute treasure.

A woman in front of me purchased a cut-glass bowl. $20. A huge purchase at a garage sale, but she knew she'd found something. She coughed up her money, and then interrogated the gentleman selling it. "It was my grandmother's," he told her. "I'm not sure who made it, but it has to date back to 1915."

"But," she said, "there is no STAMP on this piece. I wonder if it's a Fenton. I guess, if it were a Fenton, there would be a stamp. It's probably not a Fenton."

"My grandmother would have purchased it in Philadelphia, in 1915," he reiterated. And still, on the customer went, about the lack of a Fenton stamp.

I don't know jack about Fenton. I only know that by some miracle of God, I repressed my inclination to tackle her to the ground, screaming "It was his Grandmother's! It is almost 100 years old, and you got it for the price of McDonalds-for- three. This has to be somehow painful for him! SHUT UP, just shut UP, don't you see?!!"

Yes. I sometimes have violent inclinations. I never rarely act on them. I held my tongue, and waited for my turn. I asked the couple, then, "Is this a garlic roaster, or a cheese tray?"

They smiled then. "We always used it as a cheese tray when we entertained," they said, in unison. I could almost see the parties they envisioned as they spoke.

"I'd like to buy it," I told them, "but it's mismarked."

Five cents.

How much do they want for it, really?

"Five cents," she told me. "See? There's a chip, on this side."

The chip?!! What chip? THAT?! "That chip is what makes it charming!!" I told her.

And this beautiful older woman, in a long, summer linen dress, said...

...she said to me...

"I love you."

She smiled and said "I love imperfections, also."

For one nickel, on Saturday morning, I purchased a cheese tray with one small chip on the edge. And forever more, when I use it, I will think of this beautiful, elegant couple, and imagine summer barbecues and christmas parties, in which they set out this small pottery tray, and I will hear glasses clinking, and music and laughter.

And I will, forever more, remember an "I love you" from a complete stranger.

That, in my eyes, is worth way more than a Fenton.


  1. lovely story. This is the kind of encounter that spices our lives and imbues meaning into the smallest activities.

    My grandpa's name is (was) Fenton, and I love him. He loved cheese. I love your story, and your chipped cheese tray, and I love you!

  2. Wow Lori, it's too early in the morning to read something that not only gave me goose bumps, but brought a tear thinking about this old couple selling their "treasures"

    I love you too.

  3. Kudos for your control. I would've hit her upside the head...

  4. Beautiful story. See how many great people there are out there! Sometimes we just have to slow down to find them.

  5. Loved it, beautiful story ty.

  6. Moving. Very moving.

    I think you bring out the special in folks you encounter.

  7. weeping.

    and, like most everyone else here, I love you, as well.

  8. Beautiful, Lori. I love you too.

  9. What a neat, neat story. One that you are prone to have because because (a) you're out there doing interesting stuff all the time and (b) you are so lovable!


  10. Aw shucks, you guys are going to make me cry. I love you too. Group hug, kay?

  11. I, too, love you for things like this. You are de bomb diggity.
    I am just back from 12 days at sea on a 33 foot sailboat. After 750+ miles on the open ocean I can safely say "Phew!" Glad 2 B home!
    Talk about unconquered fears and adventure! Jeebus! I will blog it.

  12. lovely lovely story....I used to love garage sales on sundays with my mom in jersey..we could find so many wonderful things with so many wonderful stories attatched...

  13. Anonymous2:14 PM

    You know, I love antiques and not because they carry a name like Fenton, but because they tell a story and I absolutely love your story!!!!

    Thanks for sharing!


  14. Thanks for your story. I probably would have missed the sentiment. Not that I am jaded, I don't think. I would have missed the conversation about the Fenton thing. And if Hubby were there, he'd be on a scavenger hunt looking for something valuable-a person rummaging it would not have thought that it would have been that valuable.

    Thank you for reminding me that sentimental value is so much more important. :)

  15. Shari, I'm sure if you'd been there, you'd have been aware of the sentiment. I know most are looking for bargains or treasures...but one can tell the difference between someone's unloading unwanted junk at a garage sale, or parting with memories at an estate sale...and at least save the cackling with glee until one is out of the widow's earshot. ;-)

    Estate sales always make me nervous for that reason...creeping thru people's houses with the rest of the family watching on. Too much guilt!

  16. My husband has always wanted a bumper sticker that says Say No to Fenton just because of similar interactions. I'm glad you got their cheesebowl and will think of them when you use it....

  17. I avoid garage sales. Good deals at the price of dignity and insulted refusals. Besides, when my wife would hold them with other gals, they just ended up buying each others junk!

  18. ) did you know how cheese was invented? It wasnt necessity, it was an accident, read this


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