When I plunked down my $9.99 at Wal-Mart, I started out with 8 of everything-- 8 mugs, 8 little bowls, 8 big bowls, 8 saucers, 8 salad plates, 8 enormous American buffet meal plates. And now, 8 years later, I have 3 mugs, 1 little bowl, 2 big bowls, and all 24 plates. Where on earth do they go?
I remember some of the losses. When Craig used a big bowl to catch the water out of the gas tank of his Jaguar. And when that wasn't big enough, he emptied out the cat's litter box and used that. Not a fun night. I remember when Puddin' (RIP, fat boy!) looked me in the eye, said MEOWR, and swiped a mug off the counter, the first of many experiments in gravity. I remember using a small bowl to feed a stray geriatric chihuahua, and when he proved ridden with so many diseases and parasites that it was just kinder to put him down than turn him into a diminutive 6-Thousand-Dollar-Dog, I threw out his water bowl to save us all from the plague. And, of course, last week, when I heard Craig grumbling around the kitchen, followed by a "CRACK", and a pause, and a, "....huh". But the rest just pass into history.
So i'm left with that good ol' American consumerist conundrum: do I cobble together a motley assortment of bowls and mugs from Target or Goodwill, or do I just slap down my $45 at Target for a shiny new box of matching porcelain goodies? As much as I wish I didn't like to buy new things, I must admit that I freakin' LOVE to buy new things. I love unpacking a set of dishes, putting them in the cupboard, getting used to their heft and shiny newness.
Heck, I even remember the first time we got new dishes when I was a kid. We got a black hexagonal set from Target, and I thought it was like a second Christmas. Back then, I didn't really understand how pricing worked, so I thought this was a huge investment, like getting a new TV or pool table.
When I went to buy my first set of dishes in 2000, I was floored at how cheap they were. That whole time, I had thought that dishes were a major investment, and I had been so upset to break anything. But, seriously, $9.99 for 48 dishes. How is that even possible? Dishes are yet another object that are so cheap as to be ridiculously wasteful. I can buy an entire set of dishes, a cupboardfull of porcelain, for less than the cost of one mug from our wedding China. Which makes me wonder who on earth is ripping off people who buy wedding China.
In conclusion, it's so hard to decide when it's appropriate to replace something that is only half gone. Right now, we have 4 Goodwill bowls, 2 chipped Target bowls, 1 lovely Target bowl, and the leftover refugees from that long ago Wal-Mart trip when Craig and I lived on $14,000 a year and buying 2 towels, a Big Mac, and a bag of underwear was a great birthday for him. I waffled over the $9.99 set of dishes-- did we really need them?
And here we are, 8 years, 2 grad degrees, 1 wedding, and 1 baby later, and over half of those dishes are still truckin'. Pretty good investment, huh?