Decorating the house - the fantasy never stops

March 20, 2012

There is a column out there that is causing a stir; it’s written by Liz O’Donnell, who is a blogger for the Huffington Post. I have no idea what a blogger is, but I came across this article recently.

It’s called the divorce house. At first I thought it was a place where women went who were undergoing a divorce, sort of like a halfway house. But no, it turns out these women are happily married, and some of them for quite a long time.

This house she refers to is a fantasy, according to this writer, that all married women go through: the idea of decorating a house exactly the way they wanted to if they were not married anymore. In other words, what the house would be like if you suddenly found yourself living alone and could decorate at will. She goes on to describe her own development; all the décor is in chintz and very British-sounding English cottage living. Stuff a man would be appalled to find himself surrounded by on a crisp autumn football evening as he searched for his remote control, X-box units and unlimited supply of beer.

Sure, as women with young children we all had that fantasy house. Usually it was an apartment though, at least in the beginning. My biggest fantasy back then was an apartment with a washer and dryer. Every time I lugged those sacks of clothes to the laundromat, I went into a new phase of decorating this place, with stuff like tile on the counters where I would sort my clothes, cute little separated clothing bins on wheels so I could just roll the clothes over to the machine, and having the freedom to not have to sit and watch the dryer for hours, especially across from the creepy guy who was always at the laundromat on Mondays.

Of course once you’ve achieved this, the fantasy doesn’t stop. From there, the fantasy apartment grew to the split-level fantasy house. This was the one where you had heavy Mediterranean furniture; well, sometimes it was those pod-looking coffee tables, much like the astronauts' wives had out in some desert in Arizona while their husbands were test pilots breaking the speed of sound.

Each argument with your husband or partner brought new furniture, wall-to-wall carpet and fine Asian china into the house. Each annoying child became an adult instantly, 1,500 miles from home with his or her own annoying children. This happened on those days where you plucked one child off the roof and dug another out from under the neighbor’s house.

I’m sure guys have fantasy houses too, but it’s a lot easier for them, because mostly it’s a place with an enormous garage or basement, which is where they are now, so they don’t have to put a lot of thought into either - well, maybe a new futon. And I think they also have metal droids who wear French maid’s outfits and pick up wet towels all day long. Their refrigerator would of course be stocked with casseroles of macaroni and cheese.

To personalize O’Donnell’s column, I know that my own husband is terrified of anything that says “duvet cover,” even though he doesn’t know what that means.

And he also tends to get dizzy when he sees any fabric that has tiny pink rosebuds on it. Things that are acceptable are stuff like skulls from anatomy classes and lots of strange pottery that holds quarters and military pins.

But life surely is about getting along and living with each other even though our view of the other’s taste runs from bizarre to downright loco. The one thing we do have in common, though, is our imagination. Without fantasies, there are no daydreams. And without daydreams, there is no vision.

We are not an unhappy people, nor do we not love men who wear plaid ties with striped shirts. But some days we have to bring out those vases of purple flowers and yellow throw pillows. Just saying.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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