I had written a story, and given a copy to a friend to read. She came to my house. I said to her, “What’d you think of the story? It’s crap isn’t it?” in the way designed to elicit the reaction, “Oh no, it’s great!” . Instead she said, “Yeah, it’s crap.”
Then I was standing in the kitchen, and there was a huge long line of coffee cups on the bench. Every coffee cup was different from every other: some were big clunky mugs, others were delicate china things on saucers. Each cup held a different quantity of coffee: some were spilling over, some contained nothing but dregs, and every gradation in between was represented in some cup. Some of the coffees were freshly brewed and piping hot, while others had clearly been made days ago and were perfectly cool.
I went along the line of cups, staring down into each one in turn. As I went, each coffee cup communicated to me one of my friend’s criticisms of my story.