Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – November 24, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – November 24, 2004 – I grew up in a house where we had melmac dishes, in pale washed out colours of red, turquoise blue, yellow green and clay. All the clay-coloured mugs were stackable. We had eight of everything. You could have drop kicked those dishes from here to Halifax and they would never have broken.
We ate twenty meals a week on those atrocious dishes. In retrospect they were perfect for a family with three little kids. The good china (Royal Albert) only came out for Sunday dinner, birthdays, special occasions and Christmas. I think the melmac dishes came from green stamps at Loblaws or perhaps from the Esso gas station downtown. They were indestructible.
A few years ago when my Father was moving from our family home into an apartment – there were remnants of those dishes stacked in the kitchen cupboards. If a set of them was buried under a rock and excavated by an anthropologist a million years from now – they would still be in mint condition. As I think about it, I’m wondering why they don’t build houses out of melmac.
My early childhood dish trauma may explain why I have an addiction to dishes – especially at Christmas time. For my one and only “mega” dinner party of the year – I always set an exquisite table. There are between eleven and fourteen guests – although in recent years, it’s been an even dozen. This necessitates twelve chargers, dinner plates, wine glasses, salad plates and dessert plates. I know that a lot of people, actually most people, have dinner dishes for eight. They simply beg and borrow from friends and family to make up the difference, and set a very pleasing table. That just hasn’t been good enough for me in recent years.
I have a collection of dishes and stem ware to rival The Ritz. Every conceivable colour, type, size and shape of dish resides in my cupboards. I just like having them, and knowing that in a heartbeat I could set a spectacular table. All the more reason for me to entertain more frequently. Either that or I could set up a holiday dish rental business, and actually have these dishes pay their way. I have lent them to people in the past, who have no interest in owning holiday dishes.
They set a beautiful table and then return them promptly with a hearty “thank you” and use their extra money to go to France for a holiday. But not me – I buy more dishes. Most of them are “on sale” (I love a bargain) and quite inexpensive. My salad and dessert plates are all from the dollar store – fifty cents each – but you’d never know it. They’re made in China, have great holiday designs and are colourful and merry. It’s fun for me to shop for bargains and find things to make the season bright and fanciful.
Today I bought some delicious, (perfect Christmas red) glass dinner plates – on sale of course. That’s the only way to shop. I’ll mix them with beautiful gold chargers and red wine glasses on a white linen tablecloth for my holiday dinner party. Then I’ll pack them away with all the others I have until next year. I’d say it’s time for me to confront my obvious addiction to dishes. I may have to delve back into my childhood “melmac” days to find the original cause of my obsession, and search out a dish therapist to guide me through the arduous task of confronting my dish fixation. It may well involve rooting through the tangled bits of my brain in a mad search for the sane bits. That might well be a science project for some fresh-faced brain intern.
I can’t really figure this out myself and perhaps I shouldn’t keep trying. It may be similar to my proclivity for beautiful silver jewellery. A hobby with no drastic consequences – except a slight dent to my pocket book. I was with Big the other day and we saw a white sugar bowl and creamer for $124.00 – now if I was paying that for a plate, I’d be worried – but when the tab is one to six bucks a shot, I think I’m doing just fine. I may soon have to entertain the thought of a giant dish sale, but compared to the really big addictions of alcohol, drugs, gambling and sex, Hey?