We don’t own two plates that match. That’s the rule.
When we recently remodeled our home it felt like time to get new plates. Thirty-five years of marriage had left us with a real hodgepodge.
Then, an idea occured to me. Often scary, I know. But what if we began a lifelong treasure hunt for the single perfect plate in the world, knowing full well we will never find it. And along the way, finding less-than-perfect plates would be fun.
I opened the cupboard, threw away all of our plates, and visited two local thrift stores. The journey had begun.
I found the first few. Each one spoke to me as if it had been waiting. It felt right.
I took them home and started lovingly hand washing them in hot, sudsy water (with a few drops of bleach). As I washed them, I tried to figure out why this was so fascinating to me. I stopped washing and started writing.
Reason 1: Matching plates are predictable.
Predictable has a place—but in many cases, predictable just means controllable.
Reason 2: Each plate has a unique history.
Beautiful, hip, brand-new matching plates have the same history—no history.
With our plates, as more of the design is revealed with each bite, I wonder how many really lousy meals and how many really good meals where eaten from the plate. A Thanksgiving dinner with cherished family members? A peanut butter sandwich? Mac & Cheese? SpaghettiOs? And who ate from the plate? A child? An old woman? A convicted felon? What did the plate overhear as people visited while they ate?
Reason 3: I love storytelling.
When people ask me about our plates, I enjoy telling the story you’re reading.
Reason 4: It’s as much about the hunt as it is about the plates.
And at $1 each (typically), it’s cheap entertainment.
Reason 5: I don’t feel bad when one breaks.
I not only don’t feel bad when one breaks, I don’t have to worry about how to replace it so that everything still matches.
Reason 6: It bugs my wife.
But not really. She shakes her head each time she thinks about it—holding back a smile. Sorta. I like that. I think she’s cute when she does that.
Reason 7: They’re easy to chuck.
When my wife tires of one, or tells me she thinks one of them is simply too ugly to keep, it’s fun to just chuck it in the trash can.
Reason 8: Matching plates are boring.
Boring surrounds us and pushes upon us relentlessly. Life’s too short for matching plates.
Reason 9: It’s a reminder.
As Forrest Gump’s mama always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Each time I reach into the cupboard and take the top one from the stack, I like not knowing which one I’ll get.