Does Souplantation Have Magic Silverware?

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File this experience under "goofy slice of life."

When my husband and I crave a bit of soup and salad, we drive to the Souplantation restaurant in the City of Industry, Calif. There are other Souplantations closer to us, but as with all franchises across the country, quality depends upon individual franchise management, and we find this particular facility to be more enjoyable. But on our latest visit, I also found it to be hysterically mystical.

Aside from the tasty fare at this particular Souplantation, I enjoy the ambiance, the silverware, and the "glass" glasses. Plastic glasses are the norm at similar dining establishments, but at this Souplantation you can score a glass that is actually made of glass. How refreshing. Iced tea served in glass somehow tastes crisper and cleaner to me.

Even better is that this Souplantation's silverware is substantial, not flimsy and toy-like, as is the case with many restaurant utensils. I hate featherweight knives and thin forks with bent tines that are intent on jabbing your tongue, or cheek, or teeth with every inserted morsel, all the while gearing up for the big finish -- the slicing and dicing of your lips on the way out. But I'm spared that concern at this Souplantation. Plus, I especially enjoy the soup spoons, which are oval, not round. They glide smoothly into your mouth without having to stretch your lips whale-wide to get them safely inside. Typical round-bowled, soup spoons are fine for sipping clear broths, but they can be a pain with thicker soups that don't lend themselves to slurping, especially for those of us with not-so-big kissers.

The glasses and the silverware are dining comforts that help to make this restaurant stand out from its similarly-priced competitors. But on this latest visit, the silverware came with an amusing surprise.

As I was savoring the rich mushroom soup that I so love, along with a variety of salad fare, I would reach for a spoon, knife, or fork as needed, but my silverware seemed to be fighting back. It kept tangling itself up as if it would just die if I dared to separate the individual utensils from each other. I thought I was imagining things, until my knife slithered across the table to snuggle up to my key ring like it was bear-hugging a long lost lover.

I concluded that somehow my knife had become magnetized, rendering me as entranced as a four-year-old who had just discovered a hard-working bug in the garden. I used my knife to pick up every metal thing on the table then dug into my purse to find more challenges for my magic wand. Yes. I am apparently easily amused. But it was so unexpected and fun that I just couldn't stop engaging the silvery, spontaneous stress reliever.

As I played with my silverware, I realized that I suddenly had less interest in my food and more interest in trying to discover if I could wear out the magnetic capabilities of my mystical blade. I couldn't. That sucker was strong.

When we were ready to leave I approached the general manager, Mr. Arauz, and asked him if I could take the knife home with me. The poor man looked at me as if I had sprouted three additional heads. But to his credit, he calmly and kindly informed me that they didn't really allow customers to take the silverware. But I was not deterred. I simply demonstrated. I took the keys from my purse and let my knife work its wizardry. Then I told him that I wanted to write about it, and perhaps he could just loan the knife to me. In moments, that's what happened.

It's been days now, and that knife is still grabbing and holding like any hefty magnet worth its salt. But is the knife now a forever magnet? Are there other mysteriously magnetized utensils at Souplantation? Does anyone care? I did. Why? Because life is generally predictable and routine, and when something surprising and pleasant happens, it activates that little "joy" button we all have inside, making life on that day just a little bit brighter. After all, there's nothing more uplifting than a spontaneous laugh.

I've never before encountered magnetic silverware. It's a silly little thing, but it was such an unusual and lighthearted discovery, that it has since spawned many conversations and demonstrations, helping to prove what we all inherently know... that the littlest things in life are the things that make us want to get up the next day to do it all again.

In all honesty, just a bit of quick research reveals that silverware sometimes gets magnetized when run through a dishwasher. But that's the pragmatic explanation. I prefer to embrace the whimsical one. Not everything in life has to be profound. Sometimes a dash of "silly" is just what the universe ordered.

I do have to give my otherworldly knife back. But it's okay. Maybe the next diner to discover it, fresh from its journey through the magic-spell dishwasher, will have their "joy" button activated, even if only for one singular fleeting moment in an otherwise ordinary, routine day.


Behold a goofy slice of life...a fork hitching a ride at the tail of a magic knife.