Story Sent in by Wayne:
Clara, who I had been seeing for a little less than a month, invited me to her house for dinner. She volunteered to do most of the cooking, and my job was to clean and set the table. As it was my first time in her apartment, I didn't know where she kept the silverware and dishes, so I opened several drawers until I found the forks and knives. That was the easy part.
While Clara ran out to grab a couple of extra vegetables at a nearby market, I looked in every cabinet in the kitchen, but couldn't find bowls and plates. I expanded my search to the living room and still couldn't find anything off of which to eat, not even paper plates or styrofoam bowls. Odd.
Finally, I thought, "What the hell," and I made for the bathroom. There were extensive cabinets within, and sure enough, in the very back of a cabinet above the sink, I found a stack of very ornate blue, yellow, and white plates. They looked so nice that I wasn't sure if they were truly meant for eating off of, so I did one more sweep of the kitchen. Despite checking in every cabinet, nook, and cranny, the only dishes I found were the ones in the bathroom. I took two of them and set them on the table with the silverware.
Clara came back with a bag of veggies, saw the plates on the table, and yelled, "No! No! Not those plates! Never, never, no!"
She pushed past me, scooped them off of the table, and ran for the bathroom with them.
"I'm sorry!" I called after her, "I couldn't find any other plates. Where do you keep them?"
"There are no other plates," she yelled back, and then she did something queer.
She came out of the bathroom, hugging one of the ornate plates against her chest. "Fine China," she said with a strange smirk, "We don't put out the fine China. We don't put it out. Do we put it out? Oh, no. We don't put it out. Never, never."
I said, "Um, I can go out and grab some paper plates–"
She shook her head. "Not paper. No. China. Fine China. The fine China we never use. We never, never use it. Never, never, never."
She stood still and stared at me. I said, "Uh, well, okay. I guess we can eat off of, er, a napkin or something, right?"
She shook her head again. Her voice was a high whisper. "No napkin. No plates. Fine China. Fine China not to be used. Never, never."
I said, "Okay, then I guess I'm done setting the table."
She nodded and opened her apartment door, then stood aside, as if waiting for me to leave.
"Are you kicking me out? I'm sorry I used your fine China–"
"Never, never the fine China."
"Yes, and I'm sorry I took it out. We can still have dinner together, can't we?"
She kept one hand on the plate, but pointed the other one out the door. I took that as a no, and so I left the weird girl's apartment, stepped into the elevator, and went downstairs, to where my car waited.
Just before I arrived at my car on the side of the road, I glanced behind myself to see Clara following after me, her hands still pressing the plate to herself. I asked her, "Everything all right?"
She said, "It's just the fine China. You just can't touch it. No one can. Never, never, never."
I asked, "Are you okay? I mean, seriously, can you be straight with me for a minute?"
She said, "It's just fine China. You haven't said a word about it, and you must never touch it. Never, never."
"Okay, then." I opened my car and left. In my rear view, as I drove off, I saw her walking after my car. She didn't know where I lived (at least I don't think that she did), but for the rest of the night, I wondered if in the wee hours, my doorbell would ring and a creepy girl with matted hair and an ugly plate would show up at my door.
Story Sent in by Wayne: