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Rolling Up the White Carpet

Now that I am home and mostly through the traditional post-visit illness, I have decided that the White Carpet Rant is worth typing out.

At base, the decision to have white carpet is one of style over substance. White carpet is a commitment, a vow of eternal care, no matter what. No cocktail party can occur without the hostess (unless it is a man with Opinions on carpet more elaborate than “Do I have to vacuum more than twice a year?”) (Yes, this is a sexist statement. I’m sure that many very fine and manly men love the experience of shopping for carpet and comparing the color with the couch and the drapes and the paint. I am getting a headache just thinking about it.) (My opinion on carpet is: why? Harwood floor is much nicer and easier to clean.) (I’ll stop with the parentheses now and get on with the sentence…) obsessing about who might spill red wine and whether she has enough club soda on hand for emergency treatment. Guests can sense this distraction. It makes them much more likely to spill than they would otherwise. White carpet is a decision against hospitality.

Its dangers do not stop there. In the very bosom of the family, the carpet lurks, happy to sow dissention. Shoes? You are wearing shoes? How dare you! As a child, I was forbidden to enter the white-carpeted dining room (what was she thinking?) or living room except on festival and state occasions. At those occasions, I also had to sit on a towel lest I mar the upholstery of the dining room chairs. I tried not to sit down in the living room, even though none of the upholstery there was white. It was clear that the white carpet was top dog, a fact resented by the actual dog, who took his revenge in his old age by using the corner behind the ficus as his personal bathroom. Subsequent dogs were not allowed in the house.

While my kids were young and she lived closer than she does now, I begged her not to buy a white sofa to put on her white living room carpet, just to preserve some remnant of my sanity. Now that my mom has no small children to live with or to stay for visits, she has acres of white carpet. She also has, thanks to a trip we took to Home Depot, a plastic runner for my dad to walk on in his den. I suppose walking on a plastic runner is a small price to pay for domestic harmony, but seriously, that’s crazy. I am waiting for the plastic covers for the sofa.

Down with oppression! Kill Whitey! (As long as he’s a carpet, anyway…)

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
joyliveshere
Jun. 30th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
Personally, I hate carpet and love hardwood floors, but if I had to have carpets white would be the last color I'd choose. Of course, I can't even wear white clothing because I'm such a slob.

As for plastic, yecch. My grandparents had plastic covers on all their furniture. They also had no air conditioning and only one very small black fan. During the summer, visiting them meant sitting with your bare legs sticking to the plastic and sweat pouring down your back while watching baseball on a black and white TV. (My grandfather refused to have a color TV in the house, because they "don't work.") Then we would go into the even hotter kitchen, where the oven was inevitably on, for dinner. At least those chair were metal and marginally less sticky.

Ah, memories.
happy_potterer
Jun. 30th, 2009 08:26 pm (UTC)
sitting with your bare legs sticking to the plastic

But when they died, the upholstery was still pristine. Isn't that how you get into heaven?
joyliveshere
Jun. 30th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Only if you're a sofa.
happy_potterer
Jun. 30th, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC)
So the sofa communes in Home Furnishings Heaven with the one strip of carpet that was protected by the plastic walkway. The rest of the carpet BURNS IN HELL, along with those of us who actually allow people to use our furniture.
jan_can_too
Jul. 1st, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
I guess I'm doomed. But thank you for the theological view of the situation!
jan_can_too
Jul. 1st, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
My mom could have been worse. My grandmother had carpet in the kitchen, which just sounds totally insane to me. I remember a time my cousin threw up on it. She did not worry that he was sick; she made him clean it up. (She had many good qualities, of course, and I loved her dearly. I just worried when I was at her house that I was going to get in trouble for messing something up.)
happy_potterer
Jun. 30th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)
As a child, I was forbidden to enter the white-carpeted dining room (what was she thinking?)

Probably, "This is a good way to keep that pesky child out of my dining room."

You are a very funny woman and I LOVE this manifesto. White carpet is only for hifalutin home-decorating magazines and people who hate dogs and children.*

There were no white carpets in my family,** but I distinctly remember the plastic runners, and my conviction that allowing a toe to touch the carpet on either side of it would set off alarm bells and lead to obscure, unimaginably awful punishments, much like what would happen if I touched a work of art in a museum. I think there might have been a plastic-covered sofa in my childhood, too. Perhaps the plastic was removed when the President of the United States dropped by. The message was definitely that if anyone was clean enough to touch this furniture, it sure wasn't us. Gram might have had a point. I was a pretty sticky child.

*Who, W. C. Fields said, therefore can't be all bad.

**The white sofa burdening our living room now was a hand-me-down. I often have the urge to assure guests of this fact as they sit there, trying to eat and drink on a football-field-sized expanse of upholstery--"Don't sweat! It was free!" On the other hand, the grunge that's accumulated on the damn thing probably puts them at ease better than anything I could say.
jan_can_too
Jul. 1st, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
You know, I sit on the chairs in your living room, just in case, not because I'm worried that you won't like me if somehow I spill, but as a result of my own issues.

My therapist has a white couch. Maybe I should talk to her about this issue...
happy_potterer
Jul. 1st, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
LOL! Does she know? Is this part of the therapy? Like having a German Shepherd chained in one corner for the dog-phobic clients . . . She probably only brings out the white couch for you. People weithout these issues sit on dark brown leather.
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