The Last Straw (Spoon, that is)

When we were kids, my dad used to make a killer chocolate ice cream soda. I’ve tried to replicate it many times, but something is always missing. He would gather my sister Linda and I in the kitchen and sit us down to wait, narrating while he gathered his ingredients. Chocolate ice cream, or vanilla if that’s all we had. He wasn’t strict about the flavor. Milk, chocolate sauce, seltzer. He’d mix each one separately and then taste test it before giving it to us.  We sat on our hands, our legs sticking to the plastic seat covers of our kitchen chairs, waiting not-so-patiently.  He took full advantage of having a captive audience, telling us jokes and stories and, I think, seeing how much he could make us laugh. We had special tall glasses for the sodas, and these incredible silver spoon-straws that my mom had found for just this ritual.

The spoon-straws were sterling silver with heart shaped spoons attached to the bottom. We had to be very careful with the soft metal or they would bend and break. And, they would have to be polished periodically—a task that usually fell to me. I was always a nervous wreck that I would break one. Finally one day I did. I was so scared that I put it back in the velvet case without telling anyone. If my mother knew it was me who had broken it, she never let on. We had five of the set of six remaining when I was 10.

When my sister had two little girls of her own, my dad would resurrect the ice cream soda tradition for them. I know they loved it as much as we had. One by one, the spoon-straws broke from use until there was only one left. When my mother passed away, Linda and I had quite a heated discussion about who should be the keeper of the spoon-straw. Finally, after an hour-long debate, she pulled the eldest daughter card. Fair enough. She would be the keeper of the beloved spoon-straw.

When Linda died a few years ago, that spoon was the only thing I wanted of hers. It now sits in a place of honor in my china cabinet, center stage under a spotlight.

I think I’ll take it out this Friday to celebrate Linda’s birthday. One more try to get that ice cream soda right and toast her. She would have been 63.

 

 


. . . “a Poem Written on the Stars”

For all my writerly friends who think poetry is dead, you have to read this story from today’s NY Times:

“From a Familiar Stranger . . . “