When you're single and you get your first apartment, half the fun is decorating it. And if you're anything like me, money was tight so decorations and furnishings were often purchased at the thrift store, or I made do with hand me downs. You also get really creative, which translates to not being very picky.
For example, I needed a table to eat on that wasn't collapsible and meant for television viewing. I spied one of those huge electrical spools behind a factory and asked if I could buy it. Luckily, they took pity on me and gave it to me. With a table cloth that I purchased at the Salvation Army and some folding chairs, I had my first dining room set.
Bare walls were not a problem. I had a large collection of hand-held fans and tacked them to the wall in between large posters of Def Leppard and Pat Benatar -- attached by scotch tape.
Then when Matt and I first got married, we had to mingle our meager furnishings. Unfortunately, his “art” consisted of neon signs for various brands of beer and other such bar room décor. Since I wasn't particularly enamored of having maidens wearing low-cut blouses carrying mass quantities of beer on my wall, we had “the talk."
I explained to him that while those were probably awesome in a bachelor pad, it was a little frowned upon in married couples' homes. I didn't, however, tell him that the folks who were frowning upon his collection were my friends and family. His friends still thought they were awesome, and his parents had, by all accounts, given up on his taste in most departments.
Being a good guy, he agreed to store the scantily clad maidens, but he really, really liked those other neon beer signs. And I really, really hated them.
Noting that the majority of his bar room décor was in bright, primary colors, I promptly purchased pastel curtains and painted the walls in a warm cream color. This back fired on me, though, when Matt came home and thought the combination looked amazing. I was at my wit's end.
Then the weirdest thing happened; a poltergeist moved in. Neon beer signs kept falling off the wall and breaking into little pieces. Surprisingly, all the acceptable decorations were left intact.
Not wanting the rest of his beloved wall “art” to fall prey to the ghost, Matt reluctantly packed up the remaining neon signs and carried them to the Thrift Store. The poltergeist must have moved on, as there were no further incidents.
After we'd been married for a little while, we were able to purchase much better furniture, but only because of Matt's generous Uncle Warren. Uncle Warren owns Palm Furniture, and he gave things to us for his cost. He's awesome like that.
We got our first “real” dining table -- complete with chairs that didn't fold up. We also purchased an overstuffed light beige couch with a matching La-Z-boy recliner. Or should I say, Matt's La-Z-boy recliner. I think I sat in it once, but I can't be sure it wasn't a dream or wishful thinking.
I sought better wall decorations, and instead of posters hanging from our walls, we had framed posters.
I carried over our new sophisticated tastes to the kitchen. I purchased new silverware, new stoneware dinner sets, glasses for every type of drink known to man, and even a few kitchen appliances. I was so happy.
When folks would come to our house, I'd offer them a drink in one of our brand new glasses. I also wielded coasters quicker than a ninja -- it would be under your glass as soon as it left your mouth. I took great pride in setting a beautiful table with our new stoneware and perfectly pressed tablecloth.
Then we had kids, a dog and a cat. Things were about to change.
That beautiful cream colored couch was liberally doused with Kool-Aid stains, mingled with jelly, chocolate ice cream and a myriad of other stains. I tried to do damage control, and bought a throw cloth to cover it.
Which was promptly doused with Kool-Aid.
The carpet that I so lovingly vacuumed and shampooed was covered with dog and cat hair. It also shared the same fate as the couch; embellished with a dizzying array of splotches and embedded with graham cracker crumbs.
My coffee table had enough water stains to qualify as abstract art.
It's a good thing I knew where my refrigerator was; it was covered in crayon drawings and colorful, magnetic ABC letters. For that matter, most of my wall art was drawn by one of my kids. And if I'm being honest, some of the walls themselves sported murals drawn by them.
I began to notice that grown up things were disappearing. My kitchen cupboards were now filled with jelly jars and sippy cups, mingled in with my beautiful (and dwindling) stem ware.
Baby bottles occupied the cupboard that used to house the wine glasses and my silverware drawer now held more plastic spoons with cartoon figures on them than actual cutlery. If I needed a steak knife, or really any knife that had the ability to cut through more than bread, I had to go next door to borrow one from the neighbor.
Remember those pricey stoneware dishes? I think I have three left; sandwiched between warped, brightly colored plastic plates. To this day, I doubt I could put a complete dinnerware service for two together without some type of Disney character smiling back at me.
I'm so used to eating out of mismatched dishes that once, before I had my cup of coffee, I grabbed a bowl out of the sink. I rinsed it, and poured my Cheerios, sugar and milk. As I ate, I noticed a slightly off taste. I couldn't place what that somewhat meaty taste was.
That's when I realized I was eating out of a dog dish that had been put in the sink to be washed.
And when did we install those child safety locks? If I needed something in a hurry, I'd have to remember all the steps to bypass their intricate security system. Launching the space shuttle would be easier.
As the kids got older, I began to think I could once again buy stoneware that had an actual pattern instead of primary colors. I even entertained the idea of buying another cream colored couch.
That was before the kids had parties and I learned that cheese curls stain worse than Kool-Aid.
Oh, well, in the future, my kids will be out and furnishing their own apartments with hand me downs and posters taped to the wall. I can always get my cream-colored couch and maybe a new set of dishes when that happens.
No more eating out of a Sponge Bob Squarepants bowl and drinking from a Toy Story cup for me! I can also throw away all those sippy cups with an adorable Simba, the Lion King grinning at me. And boy, will I miss it.
Bring on the grandkids!