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.

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