When it comes to business, you can make something fast, cheap and good; but that you can do only two of those at a time. If you want cheap hamburgers fast, they’re not going to be that good.Not to compare people to meat, but I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon among people, given the descriptors “practical,” “fashionable” and “funny.”I’ve found that most women are two of those things, but hardly ever all three at the same time – at least not after kids. Sometimes the demands and general responsibility of parenthood induce austerity. Women realize that: There are more important things in life than a well-put-together outfit (like, say, sleep), and the kids will dismantle a tablescape faster than cartoon termites devouring a table.What is a tablescape, you ask?This word is relatively new to me, too. I’ve never been fashionable, either with clothing or home décor, so the word wasn’t in my vocabulary. I’ve always been practical. And since I try for funny, fashionable just had to go. I was OK with that as long as I believed it was impossible to have all three.Then came the seminar.I was at the annual state conference for home-schoolers, where frazzled, but practical, moms can attend such seminars as “Sanity’s in the Freezer!” (yes, but real relief is in the oven!) and “Rx for Your Home-school.” Ever practical, I decided that “Living the 80 Percent-Off Lifestyle and Loving It” was for me.Jennifer Schmidt, a home-schooling mother of five, led the session. I quickly sized her up as both fashionable and practical. She was wearing a cute, impeccably accessorized outfit with no visible pizza stains, and she was talking about cutting the household budget.Without irony, she used the word “tablescape,” as in “objects arranged on a table for decorative effect.” How does last Tuesday’s newspaper, a grocery bag of clothing and Thomas the Tank Engine strike you for a fetching tablescape?OK, Mrs. Tablescape. I’ll humor you for an hour while you insist that, with a large family on a single-income, you still have the resources to create a nice-looking room. But no way you’re going to be funny, too.Then she told a couple of hilarious stories about cruising around town with her teenagers in their not-so-fashionable family car: an old minivan with plastic over the busted windows. She talked about running a 300-foot extension cord out to a shed so she could hook up a deep freezer, going a little nuts with spray paint and turning her kids into yard sale pros. She was a rare combination of funny, fashionable and practical. No wonder she’s a conference speaker.Or maybe I’m just not giving women enough credit.My best friend is an effortless combination of these desirable traits. She shops thrift stores, but her house always looks like a page from “Better Homes and Gardens.” Sometimes she forces the put-together look by stuffing the Thomas the Tank Engines in a drawer when the doorbell rings, which I find both practical and funny. Describing the time her 3-year-old son was going through a grabby phase, she quipped, “Possession is nine-tenths of Wyatt.” I’d like to think wit like that can’t coexist with the knack for attractive tablescapes, but she truly has it all. Maybe she should be a conference speaker, too.I, however, still struggle. I’m living the 80 percent-off lifestyle and loving it. But, to me, love means never having to say “tablescape.”
Monday, Jun. 10, 2013
Southern Accent: Attractive tablescapes aren’t everything
Erica Batten is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Erica? Email her at email@example.com.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less