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Fine China, Thrown Again

fine china, some rights reserved, http://flickr.com/photos/kacey3/2002598626/Sacramende, CA – The glistening white explosion, the tinkling crash against the wall, the miniature shards you won’t find in the carpet until a week later with your foot…You’ve just thrown some fine china!

It’s happened to all of us, whether we be the thrower or the dodger. When that feeling of complete fury comes over you, the natural response is to pick up a dish and throw it. It’s instinctual. Now, despite a stabilizing of fine china incidents in recent years, the cathartic hurling of expensive dish-ware is on the rise again, according to recent reports from the kitchen product magazine Forksight.

“20% of assault cases report cracked porcelain against the walls, 27% for kidnappings, 80% for white collar fraud, and a whopping 93% for domestic disputes,” writes James Drandall. “These kind of numbers haven’t been seen since Prohibition was put into effect.”

“There’s no doubt that dish-throwing is back,” says Jerry Plotski, a local police officer. Mr. Plotski says that the majority of cases he reports on these days are grisly scenes with cracked finery strewn across the ground. “Even at a crime scene that’s outside, say on the freeway or something, I’ll find a couple broken dishes. It’s like people are carrying these things around just to throw them. Vicious.”

Amidst all the ceramic carnage, fine china advocates are searching for an answer as to why these incidents have now been increasing after a steady decade of quieting down.

“We want to know why people are losing respect for these beautiful dishes,” says Linda Barstali, a member of the poorly named People’s Group for China (PGC). Ms. Barstali points out that one of the greatest clues we have is what variety of dishes are being broken and by whom.

“It used to be,” continued Ms. Barstali, “that you would never see the real beautiful stuff being thrown. Most dishes that got broken were Kmart brand or Target, something relatively cheap. Now whenever I go to the scene of the crime, I’m seeing Mikasa Italian Countryside, I’m seeing Waterford Ballet Ribbon. Last week I even saw an entire Portmeirion Botanic Garden 17 piece starter set just completely smashed on the ground, dishes with a retail of over $400.”

Dish-throwing, as countless mid-life crisis movies such as American Beauty have shown us, is by no means limited to the lower class, yet historically the numbers have shown a higher percentage among lower and lower-middle class dish-owners. Now it seems that things are turning around, and more than ever, expensive dishes living in what once were considered safe families have reason to fear. Randy Newminz, a 43-year-old admitted dish thrower, attributes the rise in fine china violence to the mounting economic and political stresses our country is going through.

“There’s a lot to worry about out there and it puts people on edge,” says Newminz. “I’m trying to support my daughter who can’t find a job after she just got her degree, I’m trying to put my other daughter through college. I’m trying to fill my tank and I’m trying to figure out which candidate is going to help me do all these things and I’m stressed out. I should have just sold the [beautiful] dishes on eBay, but I broke them on the wall instead.”

While official statements from dish manufacturers speak of “protecting the inherit grace of the objects and not wasting precious craftsmanship,” it is clear that they couldn’t be happier. All those people who break their dishes are being forced to buy new ones. Many of the top designer brands have introduced cheap, utilitarian lines to try to hold on to customers like Mr. Newminz who break their dishes out of frustration and anxiety over their financial futures and would feel disinclined to replace the dishes with expensive china.

Police say they would like to do something about the dish-throwing problem, but that to do so would be out of their bounds.

“There’s really nothing we can do about it,” says Mr. Plotski. “If you were to hurt someone with the dish, we could get you for it, but other than that, as long as it’s your dish and it’s your home, you can smash it against the wall all you like.”

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