May 29, 2009 in Features

Don’t delay enjoying good things in life

Judith Martin

Dear Miss Manners: I have a flatware issue that perhaps you could shed light on. My everyday flatware is a set of stainless steel that I purchased over 20 years ago. At this point, it is difficult to keep clean and I don’t really like the design.

This leaves me with two choices: purchase a new set of stainless steel or use my set of sterling silver flatware. To be honest, spending money on a new set of stainless flatware seems like a waste of money to me even if I found a set that I like.

The set of sterling is not very ornate, and I do like it. I also know how to take care of it. It seems a waste not to use it other than at fancy dinners, which don’t happen too frequently. I grew up using sterling silver every day because that was all that my parents had, since they received it as wedding gifts and didn’t have money as newlyweds to purchase something else to use every day. Is it acceptable to use sterling silver flatware every day?

Gentle reader: Acceptable? The silver is yours, it is not stolen, and it doesn’t wear out. Why are you even asking?

Miss Manners is reminded of two stories, one fiction, one real, about “saving” good possessions. The first was a short story about a lady who had been given an exquisite tablecloth when she was married, and had never found an occasion special enough to use it. So it was first used as her shroud.

The second was about a tycoon who had an Old Master painting on his yacht. Someone who had been a guest on the yacht told Miss Manners that he had asked the owner whether the salty sea air might not damage the painting. “It might,” was the reply, “but I believe that if you have good things you ought to enjoy them.”

So did Miss Manners before she heard that second story.

However, it still applies to your silver.

Readers may write to Miss Manners at, or via postal mail at United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016.

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