The word 'bagatelle' comes from the French, who took it from the Italian word "bagatella," which means a 'trifle.'
Webster defines a trifle as 'something of little value or importance.' In other words, a trifle isn't something that matters. It's basically a frivolous or inconsequential item.
Lately, I have been trying to determine what household goods will move with us to Florida and which will be sent to the consignment shop. Identifying some of my possessions as bagatelles has been difficult.
When we moved from PA to SC, emptying the 15-room brick monster house was a chore. Many items that had been in my family for generations had to be discarded. I thought at that time "I'll never have to do this again." Guess again, Ginny.
As we downsize again, I'm prepared to divest our belongings of inconsequential trifles. However, my interpretation of 'inconsequential' may require a tweaking.
For instance, there is a small rotund figure of a man sitting on my bookshelf. I've called him Gus since I was a little girl. He is actually the top of a beer spout that twisted off. When I was a baby, my Dad brought Gus home from work one night. I used Gus as a teething ring and later as a talisman. Throughout my life, Gus has been close at hand. The memory of my father is stronger each time I handle Gus. There's no way Gus is a bagatelle. I'll find room for him in the new FL house.
In our dining room hutch, one lone champagne glass sits amid matched sets of glasses. The glass was one of a set that my parents used to toast their wedding in 1939. The second glass got broken somewhere along the way. The remaining glass is nothing special. My parents had no money when they got married, so I'm sure that the glasses were brought home from the bar where my Dad worked. Not valuable money-wise, but not a bagatelle either.
Items like Gus and the glass are impossible to give away. They tug at my heart and bring joy to my life. True, they have very little monetary value, but they hold great importance.
There are some folks who determine the value of something by how much it costs. I recall a friend of mine fingering a necklace I was wearing and saying, "That must have set you back a pretty penny." My response – "Actually, I picked it up at a yard sale for a dollar." Her hand dropped down and she retorted, "Well, it fooled me." I smiled and said, "Most of my favorite jewelry isn't worth much. As a matter of fact, I doubt that I own anything worth stealing."
To me, the cost of something doesn't determine its value. Sure, today I enjoy driving my Cadillac SRX – the best car I've ever owned. But, I also loved my Volkswagen Bug in 1970. It cost next to nothing and was a trusty vehicle. It got me where I needed to go and was cute.
Some people would consider the VW Bug a bagatelle. Not me.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH798@SC.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.