Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Consequences of furniture worship in the family pecking order

Before I tell you this next story, you must understand that I come from a background in which slouching in the living room was seen to be bad for the furniture. I'm not kidding, my mother would see you and say "Oh DON'T slouch all over my nice sofa that way, honeyyyyyyyyy? If you want to do that, go slouch in the recreation room. That's what it's for."

The furniture in the rec room was expendable. My mother, for whom slouching wasn't a basic human need, never entered it except to peer from the doorway to demand it be cleaned up. The rec room furniture stayed behind when we'd move to the next destination, 9,000 miles away, while the living room furniture came along. Mom acquired the pieces one by one, always in terrible shape, and nursed them back to health with fine fabrics and wood polish. Sort of a Geppetto-Pinocchio relationship, only better. Each piece became one of her children -- one that never talked back, misbehaved, or refused to go to school.

Sure, there was sibling rivalry between us and the Favored Ones, but we loved them too. I developed an inner contempt, though, for the people that had more right to the living room furniture than we did. ("It's not fair, Mom, how come some stupid old Ambassador Potato-Head gets to slouch there and I can't?" stomp stomp.) Today they'd name it Acute Furniture Attachment Disorder and send you home with a pill.

Coming from that, slouching in public felt like the social equivalent of tooling around town in your bathrobe. Putting your feet up on a coffee table or another seat? It didn't dare enter my mind. Fast forward to Eastern Europe fifteen years down the road and see where my formative conditioning gets me.


At 4:49 PM, Blogger Dale said...


I'm all agog!


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