Do you remember Poli Restaurant? It was a Squirrel Hill fixture for decades. I ate there once; my shrimp was gritty. The establishment is now defunct.
Several months after the restaurant closed, I noticed that the parking lot featured planters made from large pieces of jet black cookware. Several months after that, under the cover of darkness, I visited the chained-off parking lot—screwdrivers in hand—to liberate the pots for a gastronomic cause.
Alas! The stockpots had been drilled with drainage holes. They would serve no new master.
The brazier was on its side. It held no plants. It might serve me well. Screwdrivers would be worthless, though, as it was held in place by mortar, or perhaps it was concrete. I was forced by circumstance to leave it in place.
Several months more passed, and each time I passed the site, I would muse on strategies by which I might liberate the piece. “I would love to have a piece of cast iron like that,” I would say. “I can’t even imagine how much something like that would cost! And it’s being wasted like a Stradivarius in a closet.”
Then one day the brazier was gone. Some other food-minded fool had acted. I had only talked. All that remained was a bit of mortar and some nails to mark where the brazier once stood.
Several months have since passed. I walked past the parking lot today, in daylight, for a closer look. A trademark was stamped in the sides of the stockpots. I leaned in for a closer look, wondering whose cast iron had been defiled for drainage.
Aluminum! It was all aluminum! It had never been iron at all! Ahh, nothing ventured and nothing lost. Had I pried that brazier out and brought it home, I’d never have used it and would have lamented forever my act of vandalism for a piece of scrap.