Fancy dishware and fanciful dreams

She says it on every first date.

Either between the appetizer and main course, or after dessert, before she starts cleaning up the table.

“I want to live in Paris someday,” she says, as she listens to the corn stocks rustle in the breeze outside her window.

Her date understands, either consciously or as a gut feeling. He knows her meaning by the way she speaks. Her tone is a mixture of enthusiasm and disregard. She throws the remark out like a piece of candy at a parade.

The man nods or smiles or maybe just raises his eyebrows. He may ask her a few questions about Paris or describe a trip he once took there. He never reaches too far into his memories, into his thoughts, just enough to propel the conversation forward.

The conversation, however, is destined to run dry shortly after it begins, no matter how much the man knows about Paris. When the talk sputters out, the man adds his own declaration to the mix.

“I want to open an art gallery one day,” he says, while he picks dirt from underneath his finger nails.

The roles reverse. The woman takes over with the questions and personal stories — she went to an art gallery once. But, again, the conversation soon creeps to its end.

The beauty of the conversation is not in its words. It’s in the unspoken understanding communicated between the woman and the man. It’s in the invisible waves that pass from one person to the other. It’s in the cosmic novel that exists beyond the sparse words.

The conversation’s beauty lies in the fact the woman and her date understand “Paris” and “an art gallery” are similar to the fancy dishware the woman keeps on top of her cabinets. These porcelain dishes — dinner plates, saucers, soup bowls — have never been used to serve food. They have sat on the woman’s cabinets for a decade. She only takes them down to dust, which she does so the dishes can always maintain their shimmer for her houseguests.

The woman knows she will likely never use her fancy dishware. She doesn’t have to say it to the man for him to know it, too.

Still, that doesn’t stop them from talking about it. They discuss the fancy dishware because it’s easier than speaking about the normal plates. Those everyday dishes wear down, crack, and sometimes break altogether.

The man can tell “Paris” is a fancy dish, and not a normal plate, not one that is at risk of breaking. He knows this because the woman talks about her Paris the same way he talks about his art gallery. In the same way, the woman can also decipher the parallel between them.

This shared understanding leads them both to tailor their words. They speak in generalities, with unfettered zeal. They stoke the flames, because they know the other person will do the same.

Throughout it all, the two people feign ignorance; they push back logic. That’s the only right way to talk about fancy dishware and fanciful dreams.

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