A few weeks ago, my mom called. This is not in itself unusual, and she had important news: she’d sighted the Barefoot Contessa and her husband on the self-checkout line at the supermarket. I was naturally interested, but I happened to be in the middle of something. I was about to excuse myself when she said, in tones of great distress, “Oh God. Oh no.”
“What?” I said, alarmed. “Is everything okay? What is it?”
Her reply was muffled.
“What is it?” I repeated. “Are you okay?”
“Yes,” she said, once again audible. “But … there’s a really nice glove on the ground.”
I was silent.
“I picked it up,” she continued. “Should I take it to the police?”
It was hard not to think about the time my maternal grandfather had rescued a half-eaten sourdough bread bowl from off the beach. Or the time the same grandfather had braked so hard he nearly caused an accident because he needed to retrieve a tennis ball he’d spotted by the side of the road. Or, for that matter, the many sheds that scarred his property, built to house all these spoils. “We’ll never do that to you,” my mother promised, when she and my dad mounted a large tag sale last summer. (Boxes retrieved from the attic included those labeled GERMAN POW BOOKENDS and MISC. SMALL TREASURES.)
I chose to forget this depressing incident, and largely succeeded. We spoke numerous times in the following weeks, and the glove did not come up again. Then, a few nights ago, I met her for dinner at a German restaurant in Manhattan. It was filled with evergreens, and the festive atmosphere and hearty food were a perfect fit for the weather. In the course of the evening, we talked frankly about challenges in my life and hers, her family’s history of migraines and depression. We laughed a lot and shared a single entrée, as is our wont.
Late in the meal, I went to the ladies’ room. When I returned, there was a brown suede glove sitting on the table. My heart sank.
“What’s that?” I said suspiciously, although I knew full well.
“It’s the glove,” she said. “The one I found on the street.”
“Why are you carrying it in your purse?” I said.
“In case I find the owner,” she said, not meeting my eyes, “or something.” As she spoke she slipped the glove onto her left hand. “You see how fine it is,” she said dreamily. “It has shearling lining. Would you like it?”
“No, I would not,” I said severely.
The next morning, I took a walk through the park. I had paused to snip a clandestine sprig of holly from a bush just beyond the fence when my eye was caught by something at the edge of the path: a black leather glove.
Rarely in life are we offered such a clear choice. And I will admit, my first impulse was to snatch it up. But instead, here is what I did: I tucked it into a crack in the fence near where it had fallen, so it was visible from the path. And on second thought, I decided not to snatch that sprig of holly.