If she couldn’t enter society, then she might as well go to jail. As a potter, the man would obviously know about the history of pottery.
Ultimately, a lip ring could only land her in jail—what other purpose did it serve? And he probably just liked “House of Flying Daggers” as a movie.
If she couldn’t get into college, then she couldn’t get a job. To name a kind of attraction after a disease carried by mosquitoes that killed one out of four people severely infected said something about the attraction.
If she couldn’t get a job, then she couldn’t enter society. (Her father, for some strange reason, knew who Marilyn Manson was and listened to him and liked him.) Then, in jail, she could make friends with other people wearing lip rings and form a gang. Her closest friends told her that she was doing what she did best, overthinking and picking out flaws where there weren’t any, hence the reason she was still single at thirty-six.
It was eight degrees outside, and the waitress explained that the tea, made from barley, was intentionally paired with the Pacific oyster, which was the first course of the omakase. She was Asian, with a diamond nose stud and a purple lip ring. Another possibility: the waitress might have been adopted. Kids now were not only different but lucky, the woman thought. The tea was so hot that neither of them could pick up the handleless mug comfortably. Then the man turned to the woman and pointed out how the green-blue glaze of their mugs seemed to differ. Most famously, they had perfected the tricolored glaze, which is a combination of green, yellow, and white.
When talking to her, the woman could only stare at the ring and bite her own lip. The purple lip ring matched the purple streak in her hair, which matched the purple nail polish. She wanted to say to the waitress, You have no idea how hard some of us worked so that you could dye your hair purple and pierce your lip. They could only blow at the steam, hoping that the tea would cool, and comment to each other on how hot it was. The layering, he said, was subtly thicker and darker in this part of her mug than in his. He even said the Chinese word for it, , and she was a little shocked. You would know the glaze if you saw it, he said once the movie was over and the wine had been drunk.
Huzzah, he texted the day the movers arrived at her old apartment.She texted back a smiley face, then, later, pictures of her empty living room, bedroom, bathroom, and the pile of furniture and things she was donating so that, once they were living together, they would not have, for example, two dining-room sets, twenty pots and pans, seven paring knives, and so on.She was one of those people—the kind to create an Excel spreadsheet of everything she owned and send it to him, so that he could then highlight what he also owned and specify quantity and type, since it might make sense to have seven paring knives if they were of different thicknesses and lengths and could pare different things. The mug is beautiful, and you should be proud to have something like this in your kitchen. The chef said thank you and served them their first piece of fish on similarly green-blue ceramic plates that the man promised not to scrutinize. By now, the woman knew that, although he worked alone in his studio, he not only enjoyed the company of others but needed it. Sometimes it was jokey talk, the kind he was having with the sushi chef. She was fine with watching something more mainstream, set in modern day, with story lines about non-Asians.The man was a ceramic-pottery instructor at a studio uptown. she’d ask him when flipping through menus with many pages and many words, and he’d reply, The best choice is whatever you feel like eating at the moment. That was something the woman had to get used to about New York.Both were in their late thirties, and neither of them wanted kids. She got nervous looking at a list of options and would second-guess herself. Before they got there, the man had described the restaurant as a “hole-in-the-wall.” He had found it on a list of top sushi places in central Harlem. So, instead of top sushi places, it may just have been a list of all sushi places. Nothing is actually a hole-in-the-wall, she replied. The woman estimated that the hole could seat no more than six adults and a child. In Boston, the subway didn’t get you anywhere, but the stations were generally clean and quiet and no one bothered you on the actual train.