Have You Ever Really / Really, Really Ever Loved / A China Pattern? *

I know lots of you have. I have met and been friends with plenty of people who feel strongly about their plates. When Saint Aardvark and I got married, we did not register for gifts. We had been living together for a few years; we had some plates and bowls and we knew where to buy more, should we need more. We were not planning to ever own a home that had enough room for a buffet or a credenza or whatever those things are called that hold all your Good China for when it’s time to have Good Dinner with other Good People. I don’t even think we were planning to know any Good People, ever.

I know, though, and respect, that for some people, the things with which they set up their lives as couples are important. I see the point; after all, you only get to register for fine china once in your life and what the hell, pick a pattern, right? People are going to give you a wedding gift, might as well make it something you would actually like, instead of that dumb waffle iron.

Hey, we got a waffle iron and we have actually used it.

But now I know: it wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in china patterns. It was that I just hadn’t met the right one yet. Kind of like the whole “marrying someone” thing. I wasn’t going to do it and then I met someone and it seemed like not the worst idea in the world.

Yes, I am warming up for Valentine’s Day, could you tell?

The other weekend-day, as is my habit, I went to Value Village for some alone / pillaging time. Oh, the many, many things I saw. Seriously, if you have never been to a Value Village, it is worth an hour of your time, for the purple ski pants with gold chain straps alone.

I found books for the kids because I can’t come back from Value Village without books for the kids. As I wandered back towards the shoe section (there were a lot of people trying on the 10-11s that day and I had to make two passes before I could dig in and find out that no, they were all size 8s, as usual) I spied a bowl. A cereal bowl. The perfect cereal bowl. I had no idea there was such a thing as a perfect cereal bowl but there it was, winking at me. I put down my coat, purse and books and picked up the perfect cereal bowl. “Myott Provence,” it said, “Color safe – acid resistent – detergent proof – made in England.”

It looks like this, but green. The most delightful shade of green. I adore it. I have no idea why.

There was an assortment of plates with this pattern: one cereal bowl, six side plates, eight dinner plates and six saucers but (argh!) no cups. I spent – honestly – 10 minutes standing there deciding which of the pieces I was going to buy. Because, see paragraph #1, we already have plates. Lots of them. And we have less credenza / buffet / space now than when we got married because now we also have children. Children who use plastic because they are dirty jungle animals who enjoy wearing their bowls as much as eating out of them. And yes, they will always be this way, I am convinced of it. They will never use real plates.

Yet, I had to have something. I turned the bowl over in my hand, saw the fissures under the glaze, wondered about the previous owner. Had it belonged to someone who had seen the pattern in a catalogue and fallen in love, as I had. Or had her husband liked it and she hated it; her first marital compromise. Maybe they had just divorced and she had taken boxes of her co-mingled belongings to the drop-off window, spitting, “Take it, take ALL OF IT,” before driving off, free at last. Maybe she had died and her children thought it was hideous. Or couldn’t look at it because it reminded them of all the times she had told them they couldn’t use it because they were dirty jungle animals. Or couldn’t look at it because it reminded them of her and they missed her so terribly.

I talked myself out of all but two side plates and the cereal bowl. I decided those would be our special cake plates and my special cereal bowl. You know, for special cereal? Consumed only on holidays?

This love-at-first-sight feeling with objects doesn’t happen often and I have learned not to question it. I spend a lot of time being sensible, purchasing things that are necessary, on sale or, at the very least, relevant and sometimes, if my Sensible Guard is on a break or talking to a tourist, my heart leaps out of its fenced area and grabs things. Which is why I browse at Value Village and not Holt Renfrew.

It is good to indulge one’s heart.

* post title reference

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