On Her Flying Trapeze

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Suuuure! I'd LOVE to use your chargers!

What’s a “charger”?

This is sort of how my end of the conversation went the other day as me and the many Martha Stewarts of my congregation were setting up for the women’s Relief Society dinner.

The previous Sunday:
They ask me to bring 8 place settings and a centerpiece, all focused on a Christmas theme. It would be sort of a birthday party and I would be setting the table for the people with December birthdays.

No prob. They want 8 plates and 8 sets of silverware. Done. I have 4 Christmas plates and at least 4 almost non-clashing Corel plates I can bring.

We have the most brilliant silverware Target has to offer. It is thick, sturdy and shiny. It is 100% genuine STAINLESS steel, not your cheap-o dollar store cutlery.

For the centerpiece, I deftly plan to bring whatever cute things are near the top of the first box of Christmas decorations I can find, along with the glow-in-the-dark ice cubes I snagged at last year’s post-Christmas grab-and-run sale.

A couple of days later, I get a call from one of the sweetest ladies I know, one of the event organizers. This is a lady you want to be like when you grow up. She always looks perfect. She is always kind to others and yet maintains a sense of humor and down-to-earthedness. Our conversation goes like this:

Me: Yeah. I’m pretty much ready.
Her: Have you got Christmas dishes?
Me: Yep.
Her: Great. Did they tell you we wanted salad plates now?
Me: No, but I have some plain white Corel plates I can bring.
Her: Okay. Wonderful. You know about the soup bowls, right?
Me: Okay.
Her: Alright. Oh, and goblets. Just bring 8 goblets too.
Me: Yes, goblets. (I know Target carries goblets. We can do goblets.)
Her: So what are you doing for the centerpiece? Do you have a poinsettia?
Me: No. I’ll figure something out.
Her: I know a couple of people with beautiful poinsettias you could use. Do you want their numbers?
Me: Nope. I can handle it.
Her: Okay. Great. How about Christmas napkins?
Me: I’m not sure I can find any this time of year.
Her: I’ve got some you can use. Do you want to use my napkin rings or do you have Christmas napkin rings you’d be more comfortable with?
Me: Thanks. I’d love to use yours. (Christmas NAPKIN RINGS? ACK!)
Her: Okay.

Sweet. The thing is, the majority of my friends are these amazingly put-together Martha Stewart center-piecing table-running people. When I agreed to set the table, I thought of my skills at…well…setting the table. I’ve been doing that since I was 3 and was given no end of positive feedback from my mom.

I guess I forgot what the table looked like at the little birthday luncheon my friends threw me last year with our two-year-olds present....

dinner birthday

Aaanyway....when I arrive at the building to set up, I walk into something that looks like Simon What’s-His-Bucket-Fabulouso-British-Guy-From-Oprah has been there in a BIG WAY. The tables are outrageously gorgeous. Fine china everywhere.

dinner jan

Some of the goblets are gold and silver rimmed crystal (I’m guessing a bit pricier than the 8 for $10 version I brought fresh from the Tar-zhay). I even saw some gold silverware. Here I show my naiveté about things dish-related. If the silverware looks gold, what is it really made of? It’s not gold, is it?

dinner june

I nervously make my way to the “December” table at the back and hope no one notices as I pull the mismatched dishes out of my cardboard box. I attempt to shine my “silver” on a stray napkin, realizing that it is amazingly beat up after serving 4 years of hard time in an unforgiving dishwasher.

It’s one of those moments where I remember vividly being in Junior High and showing up at school in Levi orange tabs, only to be viciously mocked. If they’re not red-tabs, you’re obviously a LOSER!

The difference between that world and this one is that instead of pointing and laughing, my new friends rip the red tabs off their own jeans and rush to sew them on mine.

In no time, I’m offered a full set of Christmas china (which I end up declining, going for the “cute mismatched on purpose” look), the napkins and decorative rings, some beautiful holiday candles and finally a set of chargers.

Her: You know what? It would add just such a nice touch of color if I lent you my red chargers to go with your place settings.
Me: Chargers? (I am being offered something for my pathetic table by the most well-dressed woman in the world, who touches anything and turns it into a fairytale castle of crystal bliss. I have no IDEA what a “charger” is, but it must be good if she's offering it, right?) That would be great. I love chargers. I’d love to use YOUR chargers.

dinner dec

It turns out that chargers are like huge decorative plates that you put under the real plates to look cool. They are not used for eating. Who knew? Well, all these ladies knew and you probably did too, but just zip it, okay?


Now for some other words I had heard or read in books, but was too lazy to look up for WAY TOO LONG, but sort of got the idea from context:

Espadrilles – Nancy Drew slipped on a pair of subtle pink espadrilles and headed out to chase down the thief who had stolen Ned Nickerson’s car.

Chignon – She pulled her hair up into a messy chignon and searched for the perfect pair of ear-blings for her date that night.

Cicadas – As they danced on the boardwalk, under a flickering streetlight, the screeching of the cicadas reminded her that there were many things in life more annoying than sand between your toes.

40 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer said...

ha ha! awesome chargers.

i am delurking to let you know that i had no idea what they were either. but i think i saw some at my mother's house last time i visited. she is one of those well-dressed ladies who can outdo marth stewart when its comes to setting a table. it must be a learned skill and not genetically inherited.

3/19/2006 11:55 PM

 
Blogger Goslyn said...

Ackk, chargers! I'm getting hives just thinking about that dinner. It sounds beautiful, but CHARGERS? Wow. Who has that kind of storage space?

I'm glad things turned out well. I would have been very uncomfortable if I were in your shoes. Sounds like the ladies at your church are really wonderful.

3/20/2006 3:44 AM

 
Blogger KatieButler said...

Chargers--something I have never used, or owned. Unfortunately, I lack a walk-in pantry to store them in.
Love the Nancy Drew reference. Always so well-dressed and coordinated while fighting crime!

3/20/2006 4:45 AM

 
Blogger Jeana said...

I love the analogy of the friends ripping off their own red tabs! I had heard of chargers, in the same way you found out. Sounds like your plates are charging up to go spinning off into the atmosphere.
Sounds like you read a lot like I did, guessing from the context. Once I told my mother that my brother had "no conscience." Only I pronounced it con-SEE-ens.

3/20/2006 5:03 AM

 
Blogger Grammy said...

So sorry, K. Apparently you were brought up nice -BUT ordinary. I think I can live without the chargers. Thanks anyway.

You have to know what cicadas are. You lived in Texas. It's like I said the last year I went to girls' camp here. "I love it when it rains at night. It cools everything down, keeps the girls on their slabs and muffles the noise of the tree frogs, cicadas and 5th year girls."

3/20/2006 5:04 AM

 
Blogger Chris said...

chargers...LOL! I can't stop laughing.

3/20/2006 5:06 AM

 
Blogger Papa said...

And here I thought chargers were just for those special occasions when you wanted to "SUPERSIZE" your guest's meals in style.

3/20/2006 5:55 AM

 
Blogger owlhaven said...

I thought chargers were serving platters, so don't feel bad. Reminds me of the time in junior high when I was chosen to be 'queen' of our 4H club and had to go to some dinner for all the queens of all the clubs in the area. I wore a skirt, blouse and tennis shoes. Everyone else seemed to have gotten a memo I hadn't, and were wearing prom dresses. I was soooo miserable...

Mary, mom to many

3/20/2006 5:57 AM

 
Blogger owlhaven said...

I linked to you and talked about being 'out-fancied' over at my place too.
Mary, mom to many

3/20/2006 6:16 AM

 
Blogger Liz said...

Let me tell you, DYM, cicadas are no joke. They are horrible, and big, and noisy, and stinky, and we get them here in the Northern KY region, and it makes you not want to be outside all the month of June when they are in full blast (every 17 years but they were here in 2004 and can I say *blech* enough for you to get the point?)

3/20/2006 6:32 AM

 
Anonymous Mary said...

I saw my first chargers this fall when my inlaws were visiting and my MIL accompanied us to Costco and they had just put out their Christmas finery. She said, "Oh, I'd love a set of chargers." Huh? She explained them. It makes sense, really, since the woman owns a million sets of china and every-day plates and anything else you can think of....but she also lives in a huge house with tons of storage!

I had a similar Christmas-table experience! My ward did a Chrsitmas enrichment dinner and asked people to "adopt" a table, meaning bring the plates and cups, etc. At the last minute, I got a call asking if I could do a table. I told them I didn't have Christmas plates or anything, but they said that was only optional, lots of people were just using normal dishes. So I brought my very cute blue and green striped plates, regular cups (no gobblets in my storage!) and assumed there would be paper napkins provided. I should have asked more questions! When I got there, the other tables were amazingly beautiful - real china, real stem ware, beautiful centerpieces. Mine was the ONLY table not totally decorated and without Christmas anything. It was also the last table to get filled up with ladies - wah! It was a yummy dinner though!

3/20/2006 6:53 AM

 
Blogger andrea said...

I was getting all excited when you mentioned chargers. My eyes were starting to glaze over but when you mentioned chargers I thought there might be knights riding in to rescue you from a fate worse than mismatched china.

3/20/2006 6:55 AM

 
Blogger jessica said...

Okay, I have to say - What was Ms. January table thinking? I mean beautiful table, goregous even, but the color scheme is all wrong for January. Maybe as an April table or May, but January!? Doesn't she know that's the month of ice blues and silvers all the way? Doesn't she know that you can buy silver flocking spray, give some fruit a good spritzing, a make yourself a tremendous winter-wonderland-type JANUARY centerpiece? No way that table would cut it in Martha Stewart land! She'd be banished. The December table on the other hand - perfectly red, green and white. Someone apparently got the memo.

3/20/2006 6:56 AM

 
Blogger Queen Beth said...

Didn't know what chargers were! Huh! Learn something new everyday!

We do things like this at my church too. And every year, I get called. And every year, the conversation goes like this: "We just thought you would be a perfect person to decorate a table!"

Who gave them this misguided misconception of me? Is it because my clothes match each Sunday? Does that make me automatically table talented? NO is my answer everytime. I cannot set a table like all the other ladies at church with their china and fabulous decor. And quite frankly, the thought of doing it makes my brain freeze.

Kudos to you kid for taking it on with such a lovely attitude!! And your table looked great!

3/20/2006 6:58 AM

 
Blogger Heth said...

Beautiful tables....but it kind of freaks me out a little bit. A little too fancy-pants.

And just so you know, I do not own chargers.

3/20/2006 7:13 AM

 
Anonymous Heidi said...

CHAAARRRGGGE!

Chargers make no sense whatsover to the diner (one who dines). By placing the dinner plate in the center of larger said charger, it results in moving the food that much further from the diner's mouth.

I was at a meal once where the hostess said, "We have to use these chargers. My little mother bought them and they were expensive", thus combining guilt with dining. Now, how healthy can that be?

3/20/2006 8:05 AM

 
Blogger Karen said...

Your table looked lovely!!! I've never done anything like that because I'm one of the rare few who didn't register for china and crystal when I got married. You've inspired me, maybe I'll sign up next time I'm offered.

Cicadas, noisy but I sort of like the sound. Brings back a lot of memories. They are pretty hideous to find inside the house though. I'm with Liz on that one.

3/20/2006 8:19 AM

 
Blogger FrogLegs said...

LOL!! You know-- when I had to decorate atable at our big Christmas thing we were told we could do whatever we wanted. So, signed up- and I did mine up with paper/plastic everything. I thought it woudl be great. I'd just moved up from Texas- little did I know... *sigh* I walked in, and saw basically what you did. I was mortified. Didn't even want my husband and myself to sit at my table. But-- I ade 2 great friends that night- they loved it! :)

3/20/2006 8:24 AM

 
Blogger Liz said...

ps and I love your new header! That is awesome!

3/20/2006 9:24 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chargers.....hmmm
Like Battery chargers?
Handsome burly steeds?
Football players?
Surly Baseball players?

Oh!.....Those chargers.....the Under-plate kind of Chargers!........
Gotcha.

You learn something new everyday....
and from _ _ _ - _ _ _ _ _ _ _ -
_ _ _ _ _ _.

3/20/2006 10:05 AM

 
Blogger EmmaSometimes said...

SOO, the big question. Did you get compliments on your table?

Did you like the way it turned out?

From the picture it looked beautiful!

3/20/2006 11:21 AM

 
Blogger Peter said...

I found out what chargers were maybe two years ago. It made me feel so refined.

3/20/2006 12:02 PM

 
Blogger emlouisa said...

Okay, you just caused some major post-traumatic stress in me from our November Enrichment Dinner. I was in charge of decorating a serving table. I can do that, sounds easy enough. The lady in charge called me TWICE to make sure I had everything, I assured her I did.

I get there and everyone's tables are totally over-the-top, kinda like your birthday dinner. I set up my serving table and think it looks pretty nice. It isn't as Martha Stewarty as some of the other tables, but it was okay. So the Lady in Charge comes over and says, "Hmm...do you think it is missing something?" I tell her maybe but that I thought it was okay. She rearranged a pumpkin and then said, "There, that looks better!" with a big ole smile.

That night I get there for the main event and my table is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! She redid the whole thing. Moved stuff, took some of my stuff away and added OTHER stuff.

Talk about making you feel valued. It's good that when we get to the other side Heavenly Father isn't going to judge us on how cute our table decorations are, just that we showed up and TRIED.

DYM, I salute you. We are alike in so many ways, right down to the table decorations.

3/20/2006 12:37 PM

 
Blogger Carrie said...

I have never heard of chargers. Who would have thought? I would have been clueless. Your table was wonderful.

3/20/2006 12:39 PM

 
Blogger momofalltrades said...

I think your table turned out beautiful! Don't feel bad, I knew what they were, but I'd never think to use them! LOL Right now, if it isn't plastic, it isn't really even on my radar!

3/20/2006 2:41 PM

 
Blogger Emily said...

i literally was thinking of battery chargers. dur....
in any case, i am (thankfully) too young for these ward assignments; the older ladies don't trust me with a table. this makes me happy. :)

3/20/2006 3:29 PM

 
Blogger Gabriela said...

Your post is so funny. I got that nervous, sick feeling reading it. I can see myself in the same situation! Once, in Venezuela your mom and I had to bring to a Stake YW activity what they called a "torch". So, we made this crummy torch out of a paper towel card-board thing and some construction paper. Our ward was the last to present our "torch". We were dying when the first ward, and every one there after, presented beautiful banners that featured the YW torch on it.

Thanks for teaching me the word for charger! A friend had me over for lunch last year and used chargers, but I did not know until today what they were called. I refered to them once as "these big plates that went under the normal plates".

3/20/2006 3:49 PM

 
Blogger smartmama said...

I'll come out of the closet-- total charger girl here-(a few martha genes but i am nice)- they don the table for every dinner party at my house...but let me tell you they totally throw guests-- (it is actually comical to watch people try to figure out their role at the table) especially when they are clearing the tables-- they say things like "what do i do with this gold thing..."

3/20/2006 3:52 PM

 
Anonymous JD said...

Chargers ----Got it. There mental note noted! Thanks for the heads up. This Grown up stuff is hard work some days

3/20/2006 4:54 PM

 
Anonymous Alissa said...

i'm so not martha. my idea of a well set table remembering to take into account the toddlers who'll be eating with us and setting out enough plastic dishes/cups/silverware for them.

3/20/2006 5:33 PM

 
Blogger Tigersue said...

My sister's exhusband had a woman interfer in their marriage that had to be that "perfect" decorator. My sister felt completely inferior. We definetly need to remember that there are people in this world that choose not to spend their money on beautiful things, because the take up room, we have other things we like to do, we just aren't into that kind of thing. We all have talents, mine isn't in creating a beautiful table setting, I was taught to make do. If someone had changed my setting, I'm not sure what I would have to but to give that feeling we dont' measure up because we don't create a "mastepiece", wrong. We all have talents and that is what should be celebrated!
Why are they called chargers?
I was thinking battery chargers! :)

3/20/2006 7:35 PM

 
Blogger EmmaSometimes said...

okay, here is the kicker. You can find the best and most affordable chargers at....wait for it...Target.

3/20/2006 7:56 PM

 
Blogger elliespen said...

Oh, so THAT'S what they're called. Gotcha.

Sounds like memo-missing is the theme for this week.

3/20/2006 8:22 PM

 
Blogger Gigglin' And Screamin' said...

Holy Cow! I would be soo stressed out at how perfect, and I think, completely outrageous everything just had to be that I would never show up again! Either that or I would go completely ballistic and dance on the tables screaming "I'm not gonna take it! Oh no! I ain't gonna take it anymore!" Could you even breathe in there? Sorry if I'm outspoken, but our relief society would be the laughing stock there when it came to style and dishes. BUT I've never had to stress out about dishes and chargers? I had no idea what they were either! I was thinking like cell phone chargers, or something! But! I am from Kansas so maybe that explains it. I think I'll stay here too, seeing how our dishes are made of paper! :)

3/20/2006 8:54 PM

 
Blogger bon said...

Chargers? BAH! I am horrified at the mention of CICADAS!

Eeeeew! Nasty, fat grasping things! But I do love the sound on a hot NM night.

3/20/2006 10:46 PM

 
Blogger Linsey said...

ROFL!!!! Am I in your ward? My whole ward has made guest appearances on Martha Stewart. Then theres me. I am happy if my plaes are clean.

3/20/2006 11:50 PM

 
Blogger HLH said...

Oh DYM- That SOO could have been me! I do not know how to put things together to equal that matchy matchy look either!

I think your table looks really cute though! I did know what chargers were- but I cannot justify the money for chargers that I can't eat off of!

And what is with the fancy table for 2 year olds? My table doesn't even look that good at Thanksgiving! I am so not a placemat person!

3/21/2006 7:25 AM

 
Blogger SkiTheStars said...

I've often thought that there is a fortune to be made with "Martha Stewart Doesn't Live Here," on Tee shirts and the cutest wooden 3 dimensional signs to be placed at the entrance to the driveway, or a ceramic tile for the kitchen wall, or on a potty rug.....

3/21/2006 12:08 PM

 
Blogger falwyn said...

Chargers... yes, I too immediately thought of digital cameras... but that's no surprise as I've been a bit obsessed lately.

My mom had gold silverware (goldware?) though, I believe it's just gold plated steel usually, but what would I know? All I know is that we weren't allowed to put it in the dishwasher, and it was stored in a fancy velvet lined box.

On the one hand I could barely care less about it all, on the other I quietly yearn just a little for the day (who knows when?) when I will own china. Of course, that won't be any time TOO soon... at the moment a digital SLR is WAY WAY higher on the list of priorities....

3/21/2006 3:07 PM

 
Blogger GiBee said...

True friends will always open their arms to you in love ... china wont matter ... silver wont matter ... cloth napkins and rings wont matter ... orange tabs wont matter, and best of all ... stinkin' chargers wont matter ...

True friends love just because they love.

3/22/2006 4:52 PM

 

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