Matthew and I were visiting the father of one of his friends who owned a condo near Vail.  Neither he nor I skied, given our combined income at the time.  Vail Village can make you feel very poor very quickly.  Women in high heels navigate the cobblestones with effortless ease and whisk into shops with names that sound like aspirations:  Fantasia Furs, Jewels of the West, Worth Home.

At the Wedgwood storefront, I said, “Okay, let’s each pick a pattern,” because it’s a sure harbinger of doom when two gay men can’t agree on a china set.   But we concurred:  Persia.  We went into the store, were ignored by the shopkeepers, and walked back out.

*

The Wedgwood teapot (Jasperware, white-on-pale blue) that the Cary finds in All That Heaven Allows is a sure symbol of her materialism.  She’s drawn to it even though it’s in broken, and her love interest, the rugged Ron, takes it out of her hands and tells her that it was there for a reason:  it’s in pieces.  She looks at him, slightly embarrassed.  It’s only a god damn teapot, after all.

That teapot, nowadays, with its body restored, could probably fetch anywhere from $250-500 at auction.

*

Every year, Matthew’s relations in upstate New York ask him what he wants for Christmas.  They take the holiday and gift-giving very seriously, and his protests that he don’t need anything fall on deaf ears.  One year, I offered to help clear the table and stack the plates (Lenox, Eternal Gold-Banded) after dinner and was told, in no uncertain terms:  “We do not stack the plates.”

So we asked for our own china set, and not soon after, received place settings for eight (Wedgwood, India).

“One of these days,” Matthew says, “we’re actually going to use them.”

*

Ron repairs the teapot and surprises Cary with it.  It’s his invitation:  come live with me here, in this restored barn, in the forest.  But she can’t; she’ll miss her comforts, her standing in the community, her solid upper middle-class reputation.  As she gathers her coat to leave, the edge catches the teapot and it falls, breaking again—this time, irreparable.  Ron gathers the fragments and tosses them into the fireplace.

*

Yesterday, Matthew and I were in TJ Maxx, the sub-bourgeois discount store, stopping in just to stop in.  While I was deciding whether or not I needed a new tea strainer, he came up to me:  “Look what I found.”

A Wedgwood teapot (Notting Hill).  For $35.

“It can’t be real,” I said.

He turned it over.  It was, indeed, stamped Wedgwood.  He traced his finger along the platinum band ringing the teapot.  “Oh,” he said, “that’s why it’s here.”  The porcelain had a flaw, a dimpled acne scar on its side.  After Wedgwood emerged from bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, the company closed its plants in the UK and moved almost all of its production to Indonesia, where labor is approximately 85% cheaper.  At that time, as well, unemployment in Britain jumped almost 2.5% from a year earlier.

*

so much depends
upon

a blue Wedgwood
teapot

glazed with English
Breakfast

by the wood-burning
fireplace

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