Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Husband's Philosophy of Dishes

Otherwise known as: The Last Post About Dinnerware, At Least For The Time Being

In my first post about dinnerware I lamented not having an undergirding philosophy of dinnerware. Later I discovered that my husband has such a philosophy. Since it's Tuesday and raining now seems the perfect time to talk about this again.

I was fretting, yet again, about what would happen if/when I picked out some dishes. "What if I find some I like and then we break three plates and we can't find the matching plates to replace them?"

Tom's reply was, "We'll just buy some different dishes." Period. End of story.

I gaped, amazed. I asked him, "Is THAT your philosophy of dinnerware? You would treat it just like towels or sheets? You would pick some you like, buy it, and when it broke you would buy some more?"

And, that, in a nutshell, was it. He doesn't see dishes (he doesn't call them "dinnerware" and he calls his ties "ties" not "neckwear") as something to be emotionally attached to. He doesn't see them as family heirlooms that have to be chosen carefully and lovingly preserved. He doesn't see them as status symbols or a reflection of finally being grown up.

Wow. After 20 years of marriage he can still surprise me.

Here I was getting all emotionally invested in plates, wondering what to choose to make that perfect statement. What to choose that everyone in the family would like, what would make our guests feel welcome but not intimidated. (That last part is just too silly, really, none of you who know us in person could ever find us intimidating, right? Even if we had plates with metal around the edges? Just look past the metal edge to the dust bunny under the table leg if you're ever tempted to be intimidated at our house.)

We also talked about the Law of Diminished Expectations. We utilize this law frequently in our home. What it amounts to is that the less you pay for something, the less perfect you think it is to start with, the more satisfied you will be with it for the long haul. As a relevant illustration, I was very happy with the $40 dishes I bought at K-Mart years ago. They were much nicer than I expected to find at K-Mart, but because they were low in price I didn't expect them to last long at all. They far exceeded my expectations, met all my standards for utility, and looked quite attractive on the table. I didn't need fine bone china to accomplish that!

The other day I found some dishes for sale online that I really, really liked the looks of. They have a bunch of my favorite colors all in one design, along with my current favorite design motif, Jacobean flowers. The price was very reasonable even for the quantity I wanted to buy. The plates are big enough to be sociable, yet small enough to fit in the dishwasher. The cup handles look to be less fiddly than most. I have no idea of the quality of these dishes, or how long they will last. But I bought them anyway, and I hope between Tom's Philosophy of Dishes and The Law of Diminished Expectations that they will be satisfactory.

I wonder if this same sort of philosophy could be applied to washing machines?


Jim said...

You don't have to have that china shipped from the UK, do you? I didn't immediately notice a US distributor, but then I'm so much more a bibliographer than a stenographer... I mean, I read more than I tickle. Dang, not that either! I walk more than I trombone!


Well... you get the picture. ;)

mandolinartist said...

I know what you mean about "perfect" expectations. If I have a new "something," especially a "big" or "important" something, I almost want to go ahead and put a scratch or dent or ding in it myself, just so I don't have the stress of when it "accidentally" happens or having to be SooooooOOOoooo careful not to avoid that mishap. (This really is not typical for artists or musicians. Usually their "stuff" is covered in paint or stickers or scratches that represent where they have been and what they have been doing.)

Beth said...

Off your meds again?

No, ordering them from the UK would sort of defeat the "affordable" part of the equation. I bought them from Boscov's http://tinyurl.com/2wz9k6

I just put up the other link because the pictures were better. As far as I've been able to ascertain, Boscov's is the only US source for this particular pattern. There are local stores selling other Churchill patterns, so I don't know what the difference is.