Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Methinks they mistake me for someone else

About twenty minutes after we were married, the “china” pattern (it’s not china, you understand, but “china” – far nicer than what you tend to get at, but not “ohmygah, don’t use THAT plate, it’s $400 a setting!” china) we picked out, the one the saleslady assured us was not ever going to be discontinued…was discontinued.

Time, and four children, worked its wicked wiles on our collection.

First there was the problem of having four children in the first place, which at first was no big deal because, you know, I was the bottle and then later they ate off plastic plates because ha ha, who would put porcelain in front of a toddler (she said Way Back When, not realizing that the destructive capabilities of children when it comes to things like ceramics is not limited to toddlers but carries on well into at least their forties, if what has happened to most of our broken plates is any indication).

But then they got older and we started giving them regular plates and suddenly we’d be out of plates all the danged time.

Then there was That Thing that happens when you have a larger-than-average family. While I know that statistically speaking it isn’t true and that actually, most of the time it’s “just” the six of us…it feels like I’m always turning around from the stove to find eight or ten or fifteen people staring expectantly at me.

And they expect, you know, a plate. With food on it.

And then, of course, there’s no getting around the inevitable, which sounds like this: “::crash!!::…sorry, mommy!”


Bowls in particular have a way of getting smashed around here. Slippery little devils, I suppose.

SO. A long, long time ago, before I had a couple really awesome eBay scores and filled out the collection pretty nicely (it helps when you’re not too fussy about ‘pristine condition’ or the color of the ‘new’ plates matching that of the ‘old’ ones exactly), I registered at Replacements, Ltd.

If you haven’t heard of them – they specialize in helping you find all the stuff you’re missing from your china (or “china”) collection – as well as silver, crystal, etc. etc. etc.

I can entertain myself for hours in the silver category. Oh look, a tea set, pot, sugar/cream, tray, only fifteen THOUSAND dollars! I’ll take two! Plus the matching coffee pot, for a mere $8,000! Why not?!

Ahem. Anyway. I got an email from my esteemed friends encouraging me to register my other patterns in time for the holidays – with instructions on how to do this so they can immediately begin scouring the world in search of the pieces of silver, crystal (uh…Mikasa? From their, erm, outlet?) and china (or “china”, Replacements doesn’t judge) missing from my collection.

Now on the one hand, good idea! I mean, if your holidays are going to be utterly ruined because you do not have the gravy boat that goes with your beloved family heirloom china, the time to be thinking about that is not four days before the Festive Event. (In fact, arguably, two days before Thanksgiving may also be a tad too late to be pondering these things, but let’s just move on.)

On the other hand…I think they have me confused with somebody else.

I have one (1) “china” pattern. And then I have three other sorta-sets that fill in.

One cheap functional set of Ye Basic White dishes.

One REALLY cheap very casual set of brown dishes I bought one fall in a fit of Martha Stewart-ish behavior brought on by not having enough dishes for a party I was stressed out about throwing. (These were purchased before the very functional white ones. They were a tad on the affordable side, and if you look at them too hard the glaze chips right off them.) (But I can’t get rid of them because I never know when I’m going to need them, because everybody invited two friends, who invited two friends, and so on and so on and so on.)

And a too-small set of Christmas plates. They’re fun, but again they’re (ahem) not exactly “china”, or even “not-china.” They’re mass produced cheap Christmas themed plates like you see at every, every Christmas. You can practically see through them, they’re so cheap.

I think there are sturdier paper plates.

So, really…I don’t feel the need to search out the salad plates that go with the dancing reindeer dinner plates, you know? (If they even have such a thing. If Replacement even deigns to admit they exist. There are limits to the non-judging thing, after all.) And I wouldn’t throw good money after bad on the brown ones. Furthermore, the white ones? Yeah. They’re standard restaurant issue – available just about anywhere you pick up restaurant supplies at very reasonable prices.

They make up in sturdiness and low cost what they may lack in aesthetic delights.

And it can be amusing when people come over for the first time and are all, “Oh! My favorite café has these same exact plates!”

Of COURSE it does! Because they are cheap but sturdy the perfect blank canvas for culinary brilliance!

In a way, I feel kind of bad. It’s like when you’re walking through a fair and some vendor is trying really, really hard to create a need so s/he can fill it for you.

“Hey! Are you short on phlegm? OF COURSE YOU ARE! And you should totally come over here and tell me all about your phlegm problems, which by the way I can totally solve for you! Seriously! Come on over…tell me your phlegm needs…I am here for you…”

I have no particular need for any more phlegm. (Believe me, we’ve got that covered for now. Thanks all the same.)

But I feel bad ignoring the vendor because I know how depressing that gets. Standing there. Hawking the phlegm to a crowd that just keeps milling past, not sparing you a second glance, until you wonder if perhaps you actually are existing in a parallel universe, where you can see and hear them but they cannot see or hear you…Echo! Echo! Echo!

Top grade phlegm, right here…solve all your phlegm needs…right here…hellllooooooo! Anybody?!

And right now I feel a little bad that I’m such a rotten customer for Replacements.

I wish I did have a burning need for a gravy boat with snowmen on it, or wanted more bowls, or perhaps a couple sets of salt and pepper shakers.

Or wanted to take up collecting silver (ha! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, I’ll get right on that…because, you know, it would be great to have something incredibly valuable lying around this house! I’m sure the kids wouldn’t use The Good Silver to pry open Coke cans or dig for worms in the backyard, right…?).


But I just don’t.

So. Uh. Good luck with that, Replacements.

I hope your other contacts are better than me, and care whether or not the gravy boat matches anything else on the table.

Me, I’m just happy if it has gravy in it, and it isn’t more lumps than liquid.


Rena said...

I inherited some nice silver pieces from my friend Paul, including a tea set which I LOVE and got me hooked on collecting silver, which I can't even dream of affording, but I love it so.

Matching "china?" Wow. I have matching plates (mostly). Does that count? I just say I have eclectic taste and mix up all the nice "china" with my Big Lots plates. It's colorful, meaning festive, meaning cheap but no one will say any different.

Anonymous said...

I inherited 8 place settings plus serving bowls of real china from my grandmother. They are from the 50s with pink and blue flowers which don’t clash too badly with the wall paper, so whenever we have a nice dinner I pull them out and use them. Cause it’s fun to do the whole fancy table thing and while I would never have picked the things I don’t actively dislike them. Ya know?

A friend, who is into collecting, informs me that each place setting is now worth $$ and "OMG, you’re not putting those in the dishwasher are you?"

Damn skippy I am. What use are dishes if you’re afraid to eat off the things? And if more than 8 people are eating? Those pretty blue plates from the Mikasa outlet store match the rest of the set just fine.

Elizabeth L in Apex, NC said...

I'm actually in the process of boxing up my formal china (and my grandma's, which I inherited) to put into the attic for the once every year or two I use it. I need to storage space downstairs way too much for that! I also just replaced our everyday china (boxed for the teenager to take to college, probably his little brother, too). We bought sixteen place settings of plain white with some border for a mere $60. I expect they'll last just long enough to get the boys out of the house, but that will be long enough for me.

On the other hand, we live just down the road from Replacements, Ltd., and it is one of the most fun stores to wander around in. It's been a while since I've been (since kids mid-travel don't tend to walk calmly while looking at lovely dishware), but they seem to have everything. Lovely, ugly, expensive, reasonable; it's all there. And - my favorite part - they display a good bit of it in these HUGE antique jeweler's display cases where the front slides straight up in order to open.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Kere said...

"So, really…I don’t feel the need to search out the salad plates that go with the dancing reindeer dinner plates, you know? (If they even have such a thing."

Um, there is such a thing. Ask me how I know...

As an aside, my husband and I could care less if our china or our "china" all matches. In fact, I haunt the thrift stores looking for pretty place settings and silver ware that don't neccessarily match. So I set a unique, lovely,totally mismatched and utterly cool table when we have to be formal. Besides, if you're the type of person who's going to get all judgy about my place settings then you're probably not the type of person who's going to be at my dinner party.

Science PhD Mom said...

Ah, we have formal china--beautiful Wedgwood in a totally frivilous pattern that was probably out of "style" the second we bought it. But we did get 8 place settings, and I do drag it out verrrrry occasionally. Foolishly we picked a pattern with a gold edge, which you cannot put in the dishwasher or it will vanish...and well I just cannot bring myself to do that and I hate the pain of handwashing it, so it sits! Too bad really, it's a fun pattern and we still love it...someone needs to tell these china producers to quit with the silver and gold rims!

Anyhoo, thank you for reminding me about my good china china, which maybe now I will use for the opposed to my Dansk outlet plain white china with chips on some plates, augmented with the $4 Linens N Things white plates...yep, those are the standard issue around here too. You just can't beat plain white!

Claire said...

I can so relate to the discontinued china right after the wedding. Before I put it on my registry I called the company to find out if there were any plans to discontinue the pattern in the next year. They said they couldn't promise anything, but there were no plans at that point to discontinue it. About 9 months later the store started calling me to suggest I complete my registry because they were discontinuing the pattern. Luckily, it's an almost non-pattern and se will be easy to mix and match with other things.

Lydee said...

tee-hee! this post cracked me up (no pun intended!)!

We have no less than 4 sets of china. I came into our marriage with 1 complete set of plain white dishes. We received 2 different full sets of china for our wedding (someone must have been having a sale), and then i received a set of delicate china from a relative. And do I use any of these? No. We use the plastic dishware from target because it doesn't break. Go figure!