Monday, January 20, 2014

Let Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published January 23, 2014] © 2014 

When I was visiting my son at his college fraternity house a few years back, we were looking at the yearly group photos of members from previous decades on the wall, and my son was expressing disbelief that anyone could have thought those hair styles, glasses, and clothes could possibly be flattering.  I said, “In another thirty years, some other guy is going to be standing in this spot saying the same thing about you.”  He looked positively stricken.

I have the same feeling when I’m watching Home and Garden TV shows about remodeling or finding one’s first house.  I love watching the look of horror that overcomes prospective home buyers’ faces as they walk in and exclaim in dismay, “It’s so eighties!” adding, “ALL of this has to go!” 

Sorry, prospective home buyers, but I remember positively lusting after the latest model homes featuring all-the-rage shag carpet, avocado or harvest gold appliances (instead of boring white), mirrored accent walls, wrought iron railings, large-pattern wallpaper, and the ultimate accoutrement, the sunken living room. 

I can therefore guarantee that in another couple decades, prospective home buyers on HGTV’s House Hunters will walk into homes and announce, “These granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, and trey ceilings have got to go.”  Their realtor will point out that painting over the red accent wall is an easy fix and that a structural engineer can be consulted as to how to get rid of that open concept layout that allowed absolutely no privacy, and add some walls for some more defined space.  He will assure them that those stainless steel appliances that show every freaking fingerprint can be replaced with white ones, and those wine-glass-breaking granite countertops can be reconfigured in some eco-friendly version of Formica. 

It’s amazing how rabidly we can turn on styles that we once so adored.  Or how good we are at euphemizing into current desirability old styles we can’t get rid of.  I can’t help but notice that the “mid-century bungalow” the HGTV realtor is shilling is actually a 50’s tract house with a lot of wood paneling. 

When my former husband and I bought our 1947 home in 1973, some rooms still sported the “in” paint colors of the 1950’s:  Pepto Bismol Pink and Penal Institution Green.  Every house in my neighborhood originally had them.  The previous owners of our home had upgraded it with big-flowered wallpaper in the dining room and wall-to-wall green shag carpet over the hardwood floors throughout the house.  We might still have that carpet except for the fact that on January 7, 1981, the city’s failure to maintain sewer trunk lines after the passage of Proposition 13 caused, through no fault of ours, a main line block that re-routing the entire neighborhood’s sewage through our house for two hours before city emergency crews could shut it off.  Horror movies have nothing on this scenario.  It was 7 a.m., my then-husband, who was never home when I needed him, was off playing tennis when there was a sudden earthquake-type trembling.  Seconds later, geysers of black water spewed out of every drain in the house – toilets, bathtubs, sinks, showers.  Ultimately, I concluded that this was God’s way of saying, “Sorry for the overkill, Inga.  But that green shag was so last decade.” 

Clothing styles, of course, are as fickle as decorating  tastes.  I can’t help notice that some of those flower-power neon colors and even bell bottoms are back in style, and I could kick myself for not having saved my 1970s wardrobe for quick sale on eBay.  I’ve also watched the wedding dress show “Something Borrowed, Something New” where brides have to decide (obviously under extreme duress from Mom) whether to wear their mother’s high-necked poofy-shouldered 80’s lace wedding dress or pick out one they actually like.  I remember when those 80’s dresses graced the cover of every bridal magazine, a clear repudiation of those heavy satin numbers of a generation before.  In thirty years, I can see glum-faced brides on this show standing in front of the mirror in Mom’s strapless fit-and-flair Vera Wang dourly muttering, “Geesh, these dresses were ALL THE SAME.  Didn’t people in the 2010’s have any imagination?”

So accent walls and kitchen islands, be forewarned.  Your days are numbered.  Before you know it, you’re going to be the pariahs of the real estate world.  Real estate agents will be apologizing for you, assuring prospective home buyers that you can be easily exorcised.  And while I probably won’t be around to see it, I absolutely predict a Vera Wang clearance section at the 2040 Junior League Rummage Sale:  buy one, get one free.   So cruel, but so life.

Below:  My older son practiced his newly-acquired sitting up skills
on the ex-green shag carpet
Below:  Big patterned wallpaper was a popular upgrade in the 1970s.
Please also note macramé plant hanger.

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