“A Day in the Life of a Dinner Plate with Decorative Ambitions,” by Miriam Jayaratna

Aug 20th, 2021 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

6:03am: In my recurring dream, I’ve been transformed from a dinner plate into a decorative plate. I’m mounted on the kitchen wall, imperiously looking down at the workaday dishware as they toil away. No one speaks to me. No one places anything upon me. Passersby admire my rendering of the Queen Mum on her 90th birthday.

7:25am: The dream departs on gossamer wings as I return to the hellscape of my waking life. I feel a crushing weight: I’m stacked cheek to jowl with a dozen other plates. “Mooooorning,” bellows the dish on top of me. “That dark cabinet time really flew by, eh? Always does.” I imagine a laser beam coming out of me and shattering him so that he’ll stop his prattling about who will get the breakfast shift today.

8:45am: A hand slides under me and removes me from the cabinet. Dammit. It’s me. I got the breakfast shift. This day is already getting under my glaze.

8:46am: I’m loaded up with eggs, joined by a fork, and brought over to the table. The texture of mushy scramble against my delicate enamel must be punishment for a transgression I committed in a past life. Prong-face starts scraping up the eggs.  I don’t speak Utensil, but I’m also not wholly convinced it’s a real language; all I can make out are barbaric screeches.

10:00am: I’m brought to the sink for a soothing sponge bath, which my hand-wash physique requires. There’s only six of us from the wedding registry, but other than the solo sink time we’re not afforded any special privileges. This fleeting moment of pampering only makes the other indignities I suffer stand out in starker relief.

12:15pm: No sooner am I lifted out of the drying rack than a lunch of cold leftover lasagna is slopped on me. Why is this happening? I’m used to working one or two shifts a week. Two meals in one day is downright bizarre. Shivering and miserable, I feel a pang of yearning for my ex, the blue bowl. I miss the feeling of her warm, soup-filled bottom resting on my well.

12:16pm: I’m placed in the microwave. “May I have this dance,” the appliance thunders as I begin to spin dizzyingly on his glass turntable. I won’t dignify that with a response. “Aren’t you supposed to be microwave friendly?” he chides. Safe, I think to myself, I’m microwave safe. I’ve never claimed to be friendly.

12:17pm: I spend the lunch shift fuming over the microwave’s ignorant assumptions while a deranged fork claws at me. I wish I could vent to the blue bowl, but she’s still too chipped over our breakup to be friends. She needs more time to get over me, I guess.

2:04pm: Another trip to the sink. Once I’m alone in the dishrack, I start daydreaming. Could I actually ascend to decorative status, or is there no escaping this life of menial drudgery? Maybe if the other wedding registry plates were to break, I’d become an heirloom by default…

6pm: I’m jolted out of my reverie by a pair of hands lifting me up by my rim. Sweet mother of Christ, I’m working dinner. A third shift in one day?! This is bordering on inhumane. Please just drop me, I pray.

6:20pm: I’m paired with a spoon this time. It’s a real dullard, meandering confusedly in search of the food while I seethe in silence. This is so degrading. I’m just about the farthest thing from a decorative plate: I’m a breakfast, lunch, and dinner plate.

7:00pm: Off to the sink again. Wait. NO. I’m placed in the dishwasher, belly-up in a row of other plates. Everyone in here is stark naked and perversely streaked with rancid food. The other dishes are trilling with excitement for the sudsy ecstasy that awaits them; this is just a trip to the spa for the dishwasher-friendly set. As scalding water begins streaming onto me from every direction, I wonder whether I’ll melt or drown first. Yet I feel calm; grateful, even — my suffering will be over soon. Maybe I’ll be decorative in the afterlife.


7:30pm: When I regain consciousness, I’m being pried out of the spinner, where I’ve somehow managed to lodge myself and bring the machine to a halt. I’m feverish and fragile, but I’m alive. How dreadfully disappointing. I’m placed on the counter.

7:32pm: I cringe to see a familiar silhouette: the blue bowl. I’m in no mood for one of her tearful tirades about my myriad failings as a boyfriend. But her curves still take my breath away. Unbidden, my mind plays a montage of her brimming with gazpacho, chocolate ice cream, Cheerios…damn. Everything looks good in her.

7:33pm: She teeters, then giggles and rights herself. I look down and realize she’s precariously, absurdly perched on a tiny saucer. They’re gazing at each other adoringly. She doesn’t even notice I’m here. “You’re a place setting with him now?!” I blurt out.

7:34pm: They startle at the sound of my voice. “That’s right,” she says proudly. “He doesn’t care that I came from Salvation Army, even though he’s a one-of-a-kind find from grandma’s basement.” A wave of regret passes over me for thrift-shaming her.

7:36pm: “He’s so rare and delicate, we figure he’ll get taken out of the rotation soon,” the blue bowl sighs wistfully. “We’re just trying to enjoy the time we have left together before they put me on display,” the saucer squeaks from under her.

7:37pm: She left me for a decorative plate. And they’re in love. I inwardly shatter into a thousand hand-wash-only shards.

10:30pm: I’ve had hours to think as I watch them canoodle. Though I envy this saucer his ornamental destiny, what I covet most is that smitten look the blue bowl is giving him. I should have appreciated what I had instead of chasing some ridiculous fantasy. Have delusions of decorative grandeur ruined my chance at happiness?

11:13pm: Restacked in the cabinet. Maybe I’ll dream about something else tonight.


Miriam Jayaratna is a clinical psychologist and writer based in New York City. She is a contributor for Reductress and her other work can be found on The Belladonna, Slackjaw, Points in Case, 251, and various psychology journals. She enjoys writing funny things because Freud said humor is the best coping strategy, once you’ve blown through all your cocaine.

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