I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a creature of habit. I find a shirt I like, and I wear it a lot, for a really long time. I’m like that with kitchen utensils, too. So it was with great alarm that I recently realized I couldn’t find my favorite wooden spoon.
After my knife, the wooden spoon is the most important tool in the kitchen. If a man’s home is his castle, and the kitchen my throne room, then the wooden spoon is my scepter. Sometimes I hold it when I’m not even cooking, like a security blanket. As I writer, I have my favorite pen, and as a chef, my preferred spoon from France. (I wonder if people in other professions are as obsessive about the particular tools of their trade — does it really matter to a conductor what little wooden baton he is using!?) As it is so important, I have two. But one has a small chip out of it and is thus less favored. And it was the good one that was missing.
At first I figured the housekeeper must’ve put it someplace strange, as she is wont to do. Inexplicably, for example, I’ll find a cheese grater in the baking drawer. But as I pulled open every conceivable cupboard and drawer, a sickening realization washed over me. I had taken the spoon with us on a recent family ski trip to Big Bear. And had left it amidst the motley collection of cheap dinged-up non-stick pans and melted plastic spatulas in the kitchen of our rental house!
What would I do?? I could call the agency that rented us the house and demand they return my spoon. Which seemed a bit unstable. Or I could ask our friends who own a house a few doors down to try to break into the rental and see if my spoon was still there. Or, I could try to replace it, which seemed like the most sensible option. I hopped in the car and drove to Sur laTable, from where the original two had come. They had many wooden spoons, even the same brand — but I couldn’t find the right one. This one’s handle was too short, that one didn’t feel right in my hand. A woman looking at spatulas beside me seemed alarmed as I pulled out spoon after spoon, becoming increasingly desperate.
Back at home, I slumped onto the couch, resigned. “What’s the matter, dad?” my son, Flynn, asked. “Oh, nothing,” I lied, figuring it would be hard to explain to him. It’s not like I didn’t have other wooden spoons — probably dozens, in fact! I would just have to get used to using one of them. And of course, I still had the back-up, chipped though it may be.
In life, there are “growth experiences” — times when our boundaries are stretched, often against our will. They make us better people. I would mourn the loss of my spoon, but would move on and be stronger for it. It would open up new opportunities for other spoons to enter my life. For the first time in weeks, I began to feel optimistic again.
But I did call the rental company after all… just in case.