How to cure a ‘Downton Abbey’ hangoverPublished 11:49am Saturday, March 3, 2012
Column: Pass the Hot Dish
For the first time in weeks I didn’t wake up with a hangover on Monday morning. A “Downton Abbey” hangover, that is.
The PBS “Masterpiece” series, which follows the lives of all who reside in the magnificent Downton Abbey, the upstairs upper crust and the downstairs downtrodden who serve them, just ended its second season. The finale was a two-hour bender filled with revelations between lovers and lots of fine linen tablecloths, and could I ever feel it Monday morning.
The first thing you ask yourself when you awake with a Downton hangover is, “What did I do last night and why do I feel so unusually graceful and refined?” You wait in vain for someone to appear with a tray of tea and quail eggs while visions of Maggie Smith and foxhunts linger in your blurry memory.
Suddenly it hits you, last night you watched an episode of “Downton Abbey,” so you glide out of bed, rise to your full 5 feet 2 inches and regally descend the stairs to look for the only cure. It’s the one thing that pulls you out of the fantasy, the prairie oyster of Downton hangovers, reality.
I’m still not quite there when my husband, Graham, hands me a bill to put in the mail. The envelope is open so naturally I ask for the wax and monogrammed seal stamp. He mumbles something common and out the question in reply.
“Lick the stamp you say?” I am incredulous. “A lady doesn’t show her tongue before three in the afternoon.”
Graham suspects I may have imbibed dangerous amounts of sophistication and elegance the night before and asks if I’ve again indulged in too much public television.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I tell him. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a fitting for a new gown and I still have to go over this evening’s menu with the cook.”
After discussing the risks of “Downton Abbey” overdose with several people, I’ve come to the conclusion that we all want to be the upstairs cast. No one goes to bed after a night of Downton dreaming of starched uniforms and serving from the left. The problem is, day to day life resembles the downstairs kitchen much more than the formal dining room.
I had a chance to go a little bit Downton this week but I blew it.
Recently my doctor told me I have to start taking it easy, so Graham decided it was time to hire a cleaning lady. I panicked.
“What do I do while she’s here cleaning the house?” I asked Graham.
“Whatever you want,” he said.
I looked at my wrist where I had written “WWDD?” What would Downton do? I asked myself, my mind racing, but it was no use. I had no grand balls to plan, marriages to arrange, or scandals to keep quiet. I was lost.
There is no way I could allow anyone in my home to feel subservient to me. It went against every good hostessing rule I’d ever learned. Then I thought of all the great cleaning lady and lady of manor relationships, Alice and Mrs. Brady, Hazel and Mrs. Baxter, Mr. French and Uncle Bill. Maybe it could be like that. I would drink coffee while she spouted wisecracks and pearls of wisdom that would solve my family’s problems in 24 minutes or less. That could work.
At least I wanted to give this woman a proper greeting. Countess Cora Crawley would say, “Welcome to Downton Abbey.” I tried, but “Welcome to Woodbury townhouse” sounded stupid, so I said, “Hi, watch out for the yellow snow by the front door.”
Friends, we don’t live in a Downton Abbey world anymore, and that’s likely for the best. Still, I’m going to miss those hangovers, where for a few minutes in the morning my mind is still filled with waltzes and fine manners from the night before. For now I’m on the wagon, but as soon as season three comes along I’m going to hurl myself off of it with all the poise and grace of a proper Downton lady.
Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears each Sunday. She may be reached at email@example.com, and her blog is Radishes at Dawn at alexandrakloster.com.