We needed new dishes

We'd needed them for years. A bowl had shattered; a salad plate bit the dust. Eating off a cracked plate isn't so bad, although I'm sure my mother would have something to say about the bacteria growing in that blackened vein. No, what eventually gets to you is the thirty seconds between loading this plate up with food and carrying it to the table, when you can feel the almost-broken edges grinding together beneath your chicken Marsala, that makes you curse (1) all the lost hours trawling the aisles of Pier 1 for replacement pieces of this discontinued faux-bistro ware, and (2) the fact that you can't just put on some safety goggles and take this plate and crack it in two with your bare hands, because even though there are three good plates and only three of us, we always need this fourth plate to hold a cake, or for the increasingly rare single dinner guest, or for some goddamn thing or another.

Impulsively, I bought a new set of plates, etc., online. It was only four place settings, but it came in two enormous, though not very heavy, cardboard boxes. Could something else be packed in there by mistake? Pillows? Basketballs? HUMAN HEADS?!*

*Astute readers will note that the desire to find a human head is not mine, but has been borrowed from Mimi Smartypants to achieve a humorous effect. The phrase "humorous effect" was borrowed from Alice.

No such luck. Just a buttload of packing peanuts (not even the good kind that dissolve in your mouth like Cheetos) and more of the lifestyle-porn/propaganda that got this stuff into my house in the first place.

This is the only box that says "Made in USA or China." Once again my feeble attempt to circumvent the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China in the purchasing of my cereal bowls has been cruelly thwarted. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the Dalai Lama for my inadvertent support of America's ruthlessly oppressive trading partner.

My GOD, each box is a perfect reduced-impact nest of quality bubble wrap. The ex-shipping and receiving clerk inside me swoons.

Did my love of magnificent packing materials transmit itself genetically to the next generation? You be the judge.

Wow, plates that actually have something stamped on the back. "Since 1901." Well, that's nice, and I certainly appreciate the Americana value. This reminds me that there's rumored to be a trove of vintage Fiestaware somewhere in Jack's family. However, I'm not the type to sit around waiting for someone to die before I can get my hands on some unchipped teacups.

I suddenly realize that these are the same kind of dishes my old roommate Eric bought from a restaurant supply house and brought to our apartment back in Brooklyn. Eric was from Buffalo, too. I am momentarily wistful.

These things are sturdy as shit. And since I'm poised to retire all of Jackson's sippy cups, I feel confident that even if one does break I can actually replace it (curse you, Pier 1).

So, goodbye dishes that Jack bought with his ex fifteen years ago, I will spare some of this fine bubble wrap to ensure your safe transit to the Salvation Army donation trailer.

Pier 1's still okay for candles, though.