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When Fantasy meets Reality



Pinterest for women is like a man looking at pictures of a playboy bunny and thinking that would be nice!

You look at pretty pictures of tables set in fields, or apple orchards, with linen cloths and dainty china, tiers of little cupcakes, scones and neatly cut sandwiches.  A string of pastel bunting, billowy swags of tulle, wooden table with paper lanterns strung above.

You get an idea.  What if I have a garden party for my friends?  We could all dress in floral, cotton dress's, be carefree and wallow away an entire afternoon, laughing lightly and sipping pink champagne.    I could take the dining table out onto the lawn.  I could quickly sew up some chair covers in calico and tie a pastel pink ribbon to the back, pop in some dried roses.  Cut out triangles of scrap material and string them together.  It will mean a trip to Spotlight, but it wont cost much.



You have a few 'trio's' but need a few more.  You start to watch Ebay for Royal Albert and Royal Doulton.  A few parcels arrive, you think they are a bargain at $35 a set.  You buy a silver sugar dish and polish it.  On holidays you find a pure white linen tablecloth and eight matching napkins.  The shop lady (who was twice your age, well almost) says they will take a lot of ironing.  You laugh, a little too gaily  that you love to iron.  



You attend high teas at a few places, just to get ideas of what food to serve.  You make up a menu, write it out in long hand calligraphy on sepia paper. You make invitations the same way and hand deliver them.  Sunday.  1pm.  4 weeks from now.

You let a week go by, plenty of time, it's just afternoon tea.  Three weeks to go,  you panic.  Four weeks seemed plenty of time when you planed this, but then you make the 'to do' list. It seems endless.

It's real now.  You have to follow through.  You start by going to buy material.  The natural calico ends up costing you $120 for 8 chairs.  The tulle another $40.  The parcel of material sits on the dining table for a week before you have a chance to sew it.  The chair covers are harder than they look.  You make 3, then have a go at the prettier bunting.  By 10pm Sunday night you have made 2 metres, you are pretty pleased with yourself.



The next weekend you find a perfect silver tea set in a second hand store.  You are delighted.  You rush home and spend the next 4 hours polishing it, plus all the little silver cake forks your Grandmother left to you. You now have enough fine china trios for your eight guests.  You wash them all by hand, drying them carefully.  It takes you ages, but you tell yourself that to slow down is a good thing.  The rest of the house is a shambles and don't even think of going into the laundry!

You go online and find a site that sells everything party.  You buy cupcake cases, striped straws, pastel icing, sprinkles, paper lanterns, sugared almonds, candles.  It costs $124 but you tell yourself you will have these things for years.



There is a week to go.  The garden is still a mess.  You haven't picked up the dog poo for a week now and the lawn needed mowing a month ago.  There are dead patches mixed with eye-high grass.  The roses need a good prune, and cooch has invaded the flower beds.  You work like a navvy in the garden, and cajole your husband to help by offering favours you know you will be too tired to grant.  You rush to Bunnings and buy 'potted colour' at exorbitant prices.

The weekend of the garden party.  Saturday.  You want to make everything from scratch, the old fashioned way.  A shopping trip with a toilet roll for a shopping list, which includes a visit to the kitchen shop to get specialised tart trays and a 3 tiered platter.  You get home, exhausted and not at all feeling like cooking.  You poach chicken breasts in tarragon to make sandwiches.  You make cupcake batter and set out 2 dozen pink pokerdot cupcake cases (you want to send everyone home from the party with their own, beautifully decorated cupcake to remind them how wonderful you are). 

You bake and ice and decorate.  Piping bags were never your friend.  At 7pm your husband casually wanders in and wants to know whats for dinner.  You snap at him, 'fucking cupcakes!'  At 8.30pm you are eating Maccers from the kitchen bench as you stir custard.

By 11pm you are exhausted, you have been in the kitchen all day.  You feel a little panicked that you haven't yet cleaned the house or scrubbed the toilet.    But you go to bed satisfied that you have made all the cupcakes, have made the filling for the three sandwiches - smoked salmon mouse, chicken and celery in creme freche and cucumber and sour-cream  there are 10 individual chocolate mouses in shot glasses (2 extra as you broke your deal with the husband and this may get you off the hook), miniature lemon meringue pies, fruit custard pies - you even made the tiny pastry cases and glazed the strawberries with apricot jam.  You sleep, but not well - a to do list for tomorrow running through your head.

Midnight.  You wake with fright as you just remembered that you left the fruit custard tarts to cool on the bench and they have custard in them and need to go in the fridge.  You debate if they will be ok, have visions of your lovely lady guests with food poisoning, and get out of bed to find a container they can be stored in and wedge a place in your overflowing fridge.  Its 2am before you finally get to sleep.

8.30am.  You have slept in!  You start yelling at your husband to stop being a lazy bastard and help you.  You make him clean the toilet while you start cutting crusts off two loaves of white and wholemeal bread. He comes back 2 minutes later and says he is done.  You know damn well it wont be done properly and have to do it yourself.  You hate him.  You tell him so.  He takes off to the shed.

You know your hair needs washing, but no time now. You need to get the table set.  Your sister-in-law phones you and asks if you need some help?  You try and keep the panic out of your voice as you casually say no love, all under control, I just want you to come and enjoy yourself.  

You have to go and apologise to your husband, you need him to help you move the dining table onto the lawn.  He helpfully asks if you cant just use the outdoor table?  No you say through clenched and stubborn jaw - the vision is for an extravagant dining table on the lawn.  It's the whole POINT!  He just silently carries one end as you struggle and heave it past door frames.  You take a chunk of plaster out of the wall.  You swear.  He disappears into his shed again.

The linen table cloth, that has been ironed once, still looks like its been slept on by the dog.  You set up the ironing board and try and fix it.  The bloody old bitch at the shop was right.  You hate her too.  You reason that when its covered in plates, glasses, napkins and food, and you have sprinkled rose petals all over you wont notice the wrinkles.  You are wrong.

It's now 11.30am.  The table is set.  It looks pretty.  Now to move all the chairs outside and cover with the calico.  You don't dare ask the husband, you can hear him hitting something pretty hard in his shed.  The covers are fiddly, the bows on the back even more so.  You only got around to making 6 covers, too bad!  You think to hell with dried roses.  

The 2 metres of bunting only goes on one side of the fence.  You had visions of it all the way round.  It looks a bit naff.  The paper lanterns keep falling down from where you have strung them.  It's 12.45 and you still are not showered or dressed and you have scones to make and pots of tea to prepare.  You stuff the very expensive tulle back into your laundry.

You just get in the shower and you hear the door bell.  Shit.  You husband comes to the rescue and starts telling your 8 lady friends what a bad mood you are in, and laughs that you will need a lot of champagne to calm you down.  You get out of the shower, still half wet and throw on the floral dress, that you just remembered you needed to iron. Makeup and hair are forgotten.

Damn them all for being on time  and damn your husband for not taking them straight out into the garden.  Now all the ladies are assembled in your kitchen, which looks like a teenagers bedroom, you look like a bedraggled,  crumpled teenager to suit.  Smile.  Open a bottle of pink champagne and get them to follow you out to the garden.

The oos and ahhs at your elegant, garden, Pinterestque table setting don't take away the exhaustion and despair you are feeling.  You gulp down your champers and fill up the glass again.  A kind friend follows you into the kitchen so you mercilessly put her to work arranging food onto platters.  She asks a million questions of how you want the cakes placed, which platter for the sandwiches, do you want the scones on the top tier or the bottom.  You don't freaking care anymore because the scones are burning.  

It all goes off pretty well considering   The ladies have a great time, you are glad however when it all ends earlier than you fantasied about.  Your husband ventures out of his shed when he hears you have got drunk.  He flirts with your friends, and tells them stories about how much of a bitch you have been preparing for this day and you don't care.  Only your sister-in-law stays to help clean up. You feel bad.  Every Royal Doulton, every silver fork, every crystal platter has to be washed by hand. You can't do it in the dishwasher.  You tell her you will do it all tomorrow.  She tries to insist she will help.  You get cross and tell her to go the hell home.

There is lipstick on most of the linen napkins and pink icing and rose petal stains on the tablecloth. They never come out.

You and your husband have cupcakes for dinner, you were too drunk to give them out to the ladies as they left.  The kitchen stays like this til morning.

Nope.  The fantasy never lives up to the reality.  Any playboy reading man will tell you that.


Footnote : Pinterest did not have any pictures of the reality ... I wonder why?

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