(These are not the dishes in question, but these dishes are for sale on my Etsy shop.)
For my fourth and final year of university I moved off campus into a flat. I was sharing with a pal I’d met my Freshman year, called Spaceman. (His ability to sleep through crashing heavy metal music, screaming hissy fits and much more prompted one of the guys in his dorm suite to marvel, “He’s like something from outer space.” Lo, a nickname was born. He claimed to despise it, but was often seen wearing a tee shirt proclaiming: “Space is the Place.”)
This flat was furnished, but I needed dishes, so Mom and I nipped over to the mall. I knew what I didn’t want, mainly nothing resembling any of the dishes we’d had at home, which included a hideous brown on brown drip pattern during the 1960s, or the particularly memorable turquoise and gold melamine horrors that replaced them.
In the shop I narrowed it down to a couple of appealing designs. The top contender had a white ground with a thin navy blue line running round the outside of each plate (inner rim of bowl, outer rim of cups), punctuated in places by a small lozenge of navy blue checks, like the ones on Checker taxis. Clean. Vaguely urban. Crisp.
“Maybe these,” I said.
“What do you mean ‘maybe,’” asked Mom.
“Depends how they feel,” I said.
Mom, who sent us to ordinary state schools, used to joke about Montessori kids and how they had to touch everything. Whenever my brother and I ran around touching things (which was often) she admonished us to stop behaving like Montessori kids. It wasn’t the worst thing she ever called us, but we knew it was pejorative.
As Donald Rumsfeld didn’t quite say, there are the known knowns and then there are things we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, but which we don’t know — and can’t explain — why we know them.
I knew I had to hold those plates; they had to feel right in my hands or I wouldn’t be able to live with them.
I picked up a plate. The underside curved softly and was as delicious to the touch as a peachy set of buttocks. Mmmm, I thought.
“These,” I told Mom. “Definitely these.”
Back home we found Dad sitting at the kitchen table. Goodness knows what he was doing there, he normally hid from us. He asked whether the trip had been successful.
“Want to see them?” I asked, holding up a bowl. He didn’t comment. I’ll never know what prompted me to give him one of the dinner plates. Curiosity, maybe. He held it in both hands for a few moments, without saying anything. Then, slowly, he smiled.
It seemed I was my father’s daughter.