My favorite home furnishing catalogs came today. They are dreamy catalogs that offer the ultimate in voyeurism. You can peek into rooms that are tastefully decorated and always immaculate. The rooms are always immaculate because there are never people in the rooms. Once you get a room just so, the last thing you want is people messing it up. Right?
Don’t sit on the sofa! What were you thinking? Don’t touch those pillows! Are you crazy?
Smart people live in these tastefully decorated rooms. You can tell because there is often a thin slice of apple and a morsel of cheese on a small but expensive plate, hinting that someone has just left the room to retrieve a violin in order to play classical music.
Many of these rooms also have some sort of old barn wood affixed to the wall. Most of us would look at a slab of dry wood and heave it into a fire, but that’s because we’re not as sophisticated as the catalog people.
The catalog people also hang picture frames without pictures in them. When you reach a certain level of sophistication, you don’t need art, you can just imagine art. I’m not there yet, but I hope to be. Right now, all of our picture frames have pictures in them.
The primary way you know the catalog people are a cut above the rest of us is by all the books. Books, books, books. They’re not just on bookshelves, but towering on coffee tables, holding up sofas, stacked on stairways and peering from behind the drapes. In one catalog, there were even books in the glass base of a bedside lamp.
I guess if you’ve read all the books on the stairs and you’d like more, you grab a hammer, smash the bedside lamp and start reading again.
“Honey, I’m sorry if any glass shards flew onto your side of the bed. What’s that? You’re bleeding? It looks like a gusher? Well, there’s a book on first aid sitting on the stairs. It’s beneath the book on Paris. You’re welcome, Dear.”
One question I have about people who decorate with this level of sophistication (and I can be such a person, too, as soon as I purchase everything on pages 16-49), is this: Why do they label everything?
Beautiful pitchers have “Pour” engraved on them. Or “Drink.” Are we really that far gone? You certainly wouldn’t put gravy in a water pitcher. No, you’d put gravy in the gravy boat engraved “Gravy.”
Even the eating utensils are labeled, “knife,” “fork,” and “spoon.” I have considered that maybe those were for training small children new to the big-people table, or for shirt-tail relations more accustomed to eating directly out of the skillet with their hands.
Still, there’s something disconcerting about having forks and spoons labeled. Maybe someone just enjoys using an engraver. Or maybe the invisible people in my home furnishing catalogs aren’t as smart as I thought they were.
Lori Borgman’s new book, “The Death of Common Sense” is available online. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.