Hiding the Chinas

Like many of my early childhood memories I don’t actually remember this. I’ve just heard my mom tell it so many times I think I do.
My mom, the story goes, had these two figurines of Chinese women. They weren’t expensive, she’d always point out, but I, just a toddler at the time, loved them.
And lived in fear that they might get broken. Especially by my mischievous cousins who came to visit from time to time.
“Got to hide the Chinas,” I’d announce the minute I heard they were coming and I wouldn’t rest until my mom put them on a high shelf, well out of reach of those pesky little girls.
But one day I forgot. And sure enough, one of the cousins clanked them together and that was the end of the Chinas.
I cried, my mom said.
Spin the clock ahead more than 60 years and I found myself applying my “Got to hide the Chinas” caution to these two wine glasses I dearly love. I was always afraid one of them would get broken, so as I soon as we finished using them, I’d carefully wash them by hand and put them away.
This went on for years and each time in my head I’d hear “Got to hide the Chinas.”
I never told Mary Kay about it until the other evening. Right after she heard the sound.
I had just filled one of them with Malbec and absent-mindedly reached for the cork when my elbow hit the wine glass.
I didn’t cry this time. I was too busy mopping up the wine.
I didn’t have my cousins to blame either.

Ed Ackerman