So then…he passes the sweet potatoes to me at the same time she slides the stuffing my way. I’m delighted to be deluged with delectable dishes. With my work schedule, I’m usually dining on take-out, so I’m thrilled to be invited to my friend’s neighbor’s house for a genuine home-cooked meal for Thanksgiving.
There are 12 of us around the dinner table – all in our 20’s and 30’s – and we all compliment our hosts Rachel and Steve for the outstanding cuisine. As the guests chatter away, I sip my wine and admire how lovely everything is – the candles, floral arrangements, linen tablecloths – it all seems so grown up! (My friends and I usually throw parties with plastic silverware and red Solo cups.) But this is a genuine dinner party where we’re sipping from crystal wine glasses and dining with actual silver silverware!
The weight of the utensils is impressive and the pattern is very elegant, so I say, “This is such a beautiful silver set.”
Rachel and Steve exchange a quick glance. Steve smiles, but Rachel grimaces. Steve opens his mouth to speak, but Rachel quickly cuts him off.
“Yes, thank you,” she says. “It was a wedding gift.”
“Oh, come on, Rachel, you have to tell the story,” says Steve.
Rachel shoots him a glare meant to silence him, but it only encourages him.
He turns to the rest of us and says softly, “Have you guys heard of the Silver Thief of Tarzana?”
One of the guests, Darren, says, “Yeah – isn’t that the guy who’s been stealing silver in this area for like, 15 years or so?”
Steve says enthusiastically, “Yes, exactly!”
Darren’s wife Claire says, “Oh, that’s the guy they call the “gentlemen burglar” because he only steals when people aren’t home – so no one’s ever been hurt, right?”
Steve smiles. “Yep, that’s the guy. Sooooo, when Rachel and I went to Hawaii last summer—”
Claire says, “No way! The Silver Thief of Tarzana stole your silver?!!”
“Yes!” says Steve gleefully.
We’re surprised and start to murmur things like “Oh my God” and “how cool” and “that’s crazy!”
Darren says, “Dude! That’s awesome! You got ripped off by a famous burglar!” He smiles and lifts his wine glass in Steve’s direction. Steve grins and clinks glasses with him.
Someone asks, “Did he take anything else?”
“No,” answers Steve. “He left everything exactly as it was and stole only the sterling silver silverware.”
“That’s amazing,” someone says, plucking a roll from the basket.
“The cops told us that he actually hit several homes that same night – all in Tarzana.” Steve continues. “He got some silverware sets, candlesticks, a tray, a tea set – quite a haul.”
“Wow,” says one of the guests. “So did your insurance cover the loss so you could buy new silver?”
“Oh, no,” says Steve, clearly enjoying being the center of attention. He sips his wine. Rachel slugs hers back. “We didn’t file an insurance claim — because we got the silver back!”
“That’s incredible! So the cops caught him?”
“Or they found it at a pawn shop where he fenced it?”
Steve laughs. “Noooo. The police called us to say they found our silver…on the lawn of our neighbor down the street!”
Now we’re flabbergasted:
“Your neighbor is the Silver Thief of Tarzana?”
Steve beams for the big reveal. “Noooo. Our neighbor isn’t the Silver Thief – but his lawn is where the Silver Thief dumped our silver when he found out…it wasn’t REAL silver!”
“It wasn’t real silver?”
“How did he know?”
Steve’s eyes dance merrily. “No, it wasn’t real silver! We thought it was.” He shoots a look at his wife. She gives him the fish eye.
He continues, “Some of us were very ‘impressed’ with someone’s Great Uncle Allen for sending us sterling silver for our wedding.” His wife’s eyes shoot laser beam death rays into his face, boring an imaginary heat hole into his forehead through to his brain.
He laughs and turns back to us. “Apparently, sterling silver has to be like 92% silver or higher. But silver PLATE is when they just put a thin layer of silver over a cheaper metal like copper or nickel. So our “silver” was really just copper with a thin silver layer!”
Claire asks, “Why do you think he tossed it in the neighbor’s yard?”
“The cops told us they think he hit all the houses quickly to get in and out undetected, then took time to inspect his haul later. Once he scraped our silver and saw the copper underneath – or used a test kit or whatever, he realized ours was just fake – and tossed it all out the car window into the yard down the street!”
Darren says, “So you were rejected by the Silver Thief of Tarzana?” He puts a consoling hand on Steve’s shoulder and says sadly, “Oh, dude.”
Steve laughs. “I know, I know! Is that hilarious or what? First we’re feeling all violated – like ‘this guy broke into our house and stole our stuff!’ And then the cops tell us they found the stuff and we’re all excited, like ‘thank God we got our expensive silver back!’ Then we find out it’s because the thief threw our stuff away because it was fake – and we’re all indignant, like ‘what, our stuff isn’t good enough for you? — you snobby little crook!’”
We’re all laughing at his imitations. Well, everyone except his wife.
But then it hits me. There’s a forkful of stuffing en route to my mouth, when I stop suddenly and hold the utensil aloft. “Wait, so if you got the silver back – is this THAT silver?”
“Yeah,” says Steve nodding.
I wrinkle my nose and stare at my fork. “So we’re eating off of the rejected, fake silver that was thrown into someone’s dirty yard?”
Everyone pauses, mid-eating.
Rachel blurts, “Well, I washed it, for God’s sake!”
We all put our utensils down. Our faces display varying degrees of uncertainty, distaste, or disgust.
Rachel is horrified. She looks at Steve murderously. She is ready to stab him in the heart with her dull rejected fake silver butter knife.
We all burst out laughing! We continue eating immediately to show her that we’re only joking with her.
I raise my glass to toast, “To the infamous non-silver silver of Steve and Rachel!”
“Here, here! To Steve and Rachel!”
“And Great Uncle Allen!”
“And the Silver Thief of Tarzana!”
— Darcy Perdu
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(Any fun Thanksgiving memories to share? Or an embarrassing dinner party story about a guest or host? Share it in the Comments Section!)