Marla Jo Fisher: I want my dinner parties back

Do you ever watch those TV shows where people have elegant dinner parties with all the china and crystal goblets sparkling, and the wit sparkles too?

I used to have those kinds of soirees, albeit on a modest scale. That was before the Northridge Earthquake destroyed all my crystal wine glasses, and that peculiar force of nature known as children destroyed everything else.

Nowadays, I can’t even keep a jelly jar in the cupboard, because it will soon be broken by kids who consider loading the dishwasher to be a contact sport.

Honestly, I don’t really care that much, because my dining room table is now covered with piles of paid and unpaid bills that need to be filed, magazines I ordered but never read, newspapers and the never-ending detritus of the messy housekeeper.

A few months ago, I cleaned it all off and even sighted wood underneath, which was as exciting as when Columbus laid eyes on the New World, but it didn’t take long for it to achieve layering once again.

Watching all those TV episodes of “Downton Abbey,” though, made me long for dinner parties, and handsome footmen, and dresses with beads sewn on by hand.

Incidentally, you can’t see the footmen, but you can see the beading if you like at an exhibit underway right now at the Anaheim Muzeo of “Downton Abbey” costumes. I’m planning to check it out.

This topic of dinner parties or the lack thereof has been on my mind because I was enjoying my favorite activity — treasure hunting in thrift shops — when I came across a beautiful place setting for 12 of Noritake porcelain china. And it was only a hundred bucks, which was like finding the Hope Diamond in a pile of rhinestones.

I always wanted to own fine china, but circumstances never permitted. Then, later, motherhood. Well, you get it.

I stood there, dithering, in front of the china for so long that several people mistook me for an umbrella rack and started hanging their wet ones on me.

See, a hundred bucks is a lot of money for…

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