I am as obsessed with "Downton Abbey" as I am with "Mad Men." So much so that this morning I awoke from a dream that I LIVED at Downton Abbey and was wearing Lady Mary Crawley's wedding gown. And, amidst the splendor of this sizzling British drama that was now my life too, I saw my reflection in a gilded mirror as I floated down the main staircase. Large paintings with fruit, flowers, foxes and doughy ancestors lined the walls. As Robert Crawley, the 6th Earl of Grantham and Lord of the castle phrased it, "I was so happy, so very happy, I felt my chest would explode."
A silver lace wedding train trailed my dainty steps, which are usually cloddish. (I love that anything is possible in the Land of Nod.) Adding to the zip of the moment was the antique diamond tiara that sat upon my finger-wave hairdo. Between my nimble footwork and the rocked-out tiara, I was far from hobblety-hoy.
At the bottom of the staircase, Lord Grantham's lab, Pharaoh, sat and stared at the wall.
"Good morning," I said.
He turned his head towards me in boredom. With tongue flapping, the castle canine said, "Good morning, madam." (Who wouldn't love a dog that so casually threw in a palindrome? I wanted to take him home with me. Was I already home though? Time travel in dreams can be so confusing.)
I proceeded to the dining room. A small fire crackled in the fireplace, relieving the grand chamber of its morning chill. I pushed my veil aside, took a seat and observed the well-set table.
"Nothing succeeds like excess," I thought as I recalled something Grandmama Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, had said.
The door to the dining room swished open.
"Tea, my lady?" asked Lord Grantham's valet, John Bates. He balanced the silver tea set with grace. His eyes were dreamy. (Wait, wasn't he supposed to be in jail? Or upstairs doing something valet-ish? Where was Mr. Carson, the head butler?)
"Would you like some champagne marmalade on your toast tips?" asked Anna, Mr. Bates's wife and head housemaid. (And wasn't she supposed to be organizing one of the 300 other rooms in the castle? I was thrilled, though, that she and Bates-y were finally reunited.)
Thomas Barrow, the under-butler, walked through holding six crisply starched shirts. I held up my finger to acknowledge him and he sneered. (Reminder to self: Someone needs to talk to that man about his attitude.) He also needed to polish his shoes ... which brought me to the topic of personal grooming.
I thought if I was feeling nerve-y. Today would be the day that I introduce Daisy, the scullery maid, to a new invention called "shampoo." I was certain that once she washed her scene-stealing greasy hair, Mrs. Patmore, the cook, would be more forgiving when she asked whether Daisy had "swopped places with her evil twin."
Morning light filtered through the dining room window. The crystal chandelier dazzled with a rainbow of colors that were as glorious as the Swarovski crystals and tiny rice pearls that edged the lace of my wedding gown.
Grandmama entered. The ruby and emerald broach nestled in her bosom jostled each time she tapped her cane in syncopation to her sassy comments. Her sage green chiffon dress shivered.
"If only the fog would lift," she said liltingly. "London would be saved."
Saved from an onslaught of trench coats? Or Burberry scarves? I wasn't exactly sure what she was talking about.
Upon finishing my English breakfast (which, brilliantly, can be both a meal and a tea), I heard loud bells ringing. Was someone beckoning from the Robing Room? The Big Library? The Small Library? Could someone please see who's at the front door?
Lord Grantham jumped in and broke my train of thought.
"I've invested too much into Downton to give it up now," he said apropos to the fact that everything was going down the toilet for the Granthams.
"I'm with you, my Lord," I responded in a fake English accent. "We all are. All 7.9 million of us. Each and every Sunday night."
Lord Grantham looked at me quizzingly. The bells continued to toll.
It took me a while to realize that the ringing was not a call for the servants, but rather for me to wake the heck up. It was morning and the miniature Big Ben alarm clock on my bed stand was clanging to be silenced.
I slammed it to stop the bloody ringing. As I stretched in languor, I reached my hand to my head. There was no tiara. Nor were there any jellied molds in sight. The cup of Earl Grey tea by my bedside was cold.
I was back in New York. Lady Mary's wedding gown had morphed into my old red-tartan flannel pajamas. Where was the elegance? Where was the grace? The only consolation to waking up so harshly was that there are only a few more days until the next masterful episode of "Downton Abbey," which I will watch fervently ... and dream on.
# # #