Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Don't Bust Your Ass

One of the worst things that happened in the marriage of my parents was that after my father retired he began to care about the décor of their home. Suddenly after years of not caring or noticing, it became important to my dad to have some say in the purchase of furniture. This confused my mother greatly, for most of their life together she had gleefully made these kinds of purchases without his opinion or consent.

The closest she would come would be to say to him, “I’m buying a new loveseat.” To which my father would grunt acknowledgement of having heard her make a noise in his general direction, and then resume reading the sports page or watching golf on TV. The loveseat would magically appear some days or weeks later and if my mother didn’t say things to him like “Hey look! A new loveseat!”, my dad would have planted his butt upon it and never noticed anything new or different.

After he retired my mother’s blissful lifestyle of buying whatever she pleased came to a grinding halt.

My dad retired in the late spring and spent his days playing as much golf as possible. He was happier than he’d been in years. He joined a country club so that it would be easier to find other men to play with, as not all of his regular golfing buddies were retired yet. He even took a summer job as a Ranger at a local public golf course. His life was golf, golf and more golf.

Then winter came.

No longer able to play golf every day he became bored shitless. So much so that he took a part time job stocking potato chips in grocery stores. When this was no longer a fulfilling way to pass the time he began to accompany my mother on her shopping trips.

At first my mother was delighted to have my dad along. After years of being a golf widow, and abjectly ignored by my dad she was pleased with his desire for her company. Her delight quickly turned to irritation, as he either would wait for her in the car, thus causing her to worry about him waiting in the car, and began to rush through her shopping, OR if he actually came into the store with her, he had an obnoxious opinion about everything she wanted to buy, so she ended up buying nothing.

The real problems started when my mom wanted to buy a suite of furniture for the formal dining room in the new house they had built a couple of years after his retirement. They had never had a formal dining room before.

My mom began to scour through local furniture stores for ideas with my father tagging along. My mother, never very innovative (she was a CPA), tended to buy entire room displays, including the artwork and tchatchkis, from furniture stores so that the look was certain to be recreated in exactly the same way in her home. After weeks of looking, she finally found a suite of furniture she loved. To her dismay my dad hated it.

He did something he never did and put his foot down, forbidding my mother to buy it.

She was stunned.

The dining room sat empty for months.

Then spring came and my father was otherwise occupied with golf and no longer interested in shopping for furniture with her, He was back to golf, golf and more golf. Spring and summer came and went and still the dining room remained empty. The sight of it left a sour taste in my mother’s mouth every time she passed by.

Eventually they found a set of furniture they could both agree upon, but my mom had never gotten used to the idea of having to consider dad’s decorating desires. Something that used to be a joy for her has become a chore.

They now live in Florida (The Villages!), where my dad is able to golf nearly year round and often twice a day. He still insists on accompanying her when she shops for furniture. It’s the third house they have purchased since retiring and my mom has simply given up trying to decorate.

It’s noticeable the minute you walk in the door. My mother’s taste has always run toward a mix of contemporary and traditional and yet the first thing you see when you walk into their house is an ornately carved marble and wrought iron monstrosity of a wine cabinet. It’s the size of a Buick, with a cheesy carved sign over the attached mirror that says, “Cabernet”. “Who knew he loved a fake Tuscan theme?”, she said bitterly.

She despises this thing.

They bought their current house about a year ago and she hasn’t purchased one new thing for it. Not one. When I was there last May I asked her about it and she heaved a sigh and said, “What’s the point?”

It had gotten so bad that she even refused to buy a new office chair to replace the one that had been broken for over a year. They went shopping together to buy one, but couldn’t agree on a style. Apparently the argument turned quite ugly. They are still both sore about the entire experience and still without an office chair. My mother brought in one of the dining room chairs to sit in when she uses the computer in their little office, but my father refuses to admit defeat by using the dining chair and continues to use the broken one. I’m worried that his obstinate ass will suffer a broken tailbone when the leg of the chair finally gives out.

Now I have done something I never thought I would have to do. I told my parents to stop acting like children and ordered them to get a new goddamn office chair before someone gets hurt.


CDP said...

Oh Lord...I cannot feel more for your mother. My husband has always deferred completely to my judgement in furnishings and design and the very idea that this will come to a screeching halt when he retires is too horrifying to contemplate.

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

CDP - I already have to put up with my husbands opinion about this kind of stuff. We have agreed not to make purchases of items costing over $500 without consulting each other. Sometimes it really blows. It's one of the reasons why our living room contains a treadmill and not much else. It blows.

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

I said "it blows" twice in that comment because it truely blows.

Family Adventure said...

Is this what we all have to look forward to?


PS: Though there could be worse things in life...

step right up said...

P likes to give his opinion on my decorating style even though I don't ask for it and he does not live with me. The usual argument goes something like this:

P: I don't like that there.
SRU: Who's the female in this relationship? You sound like it's YOU but it's ME. Don't worry about how I decorate MY place, worry about scratching your sac!

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Hi Heidi! - you are absolutely right! My parents are otherwise very much in love after 38 years. They only turn into the Bickerson's about furniture. I'd call that a mighty enviable track record.

SRU - Emasculation! That's a brilliant tactic to stop unwanted decorating behavior in your man. Smart girl, you!

evil-e said...

I have always taken somewhat an interest in the decor due to the fact I lived alone for almost 11 years. I cared about the appearance of things. I wanted to look good all around, including the furniture, the walls (mostly my art of friends art), and even the fact I am a neat-nik and a half. Besides, I never cared much for golf so I will not be easily distracted.

Great story again. Glad I stumbled in here. I like your style.

pistols at dawn said...

I've heard this story often from my parents and their friends - men needing to observe every single thing to feel in charge still.

It's yet another reason I plan on never marrying, or going Gaslight on her. If she buys that ugly chair, I'll wake up in the middle of the night and quietly rearrange the location of everything in the kitchen until she kills herself, leaving me free to buy that racecar bed I've been eyeing for years.

Chris said...

That's hilarious! Especially the part about people being able to afford to buy NEW furniture!

Pops is nearing retirement age, but he keeps busy in his shop/garage building small wooden things. It's his great hope and dream that someday he'll build something that's immediately identifiable. "Oh look! Pops built a... An... Um..."

Killer said...

You should put them into a nursing home until they can act right. That is really the only way to ground old people.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

this makes me snicker. Must be long long time love between those two!

Be Inspired Always said...

My mom is dealing with this too. Although now that my father is retired she feels like he is pushing her out of his life completely. Not only in the decisions but also in the actual housework. He's doing it all because he's got nothing else to do, so he's taking over.

So all she does is sit, sleep and eat. I can't stand watching my mother do nothing else with her life.

I'm also not close enough to do anything to change the situation.


The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Evil - I think I might be more upset if my husband didn't care - I defer to him in all instances on the subject of art. He has a terrific eye and I appreciate his taste. His opinion of sofas and headboards on the other hand makes me crazy.

Pistols - you should have your race car bed, just realize you will have a more limited selection of women willing to share it with you.

Chris - They are living out a very comfortable retirement. We should all have invested so wisely in our youths.

Killer - I'm afraid they are too healthy and spry to put up with such a scheme. My dad just had knee surgery so he's got quite a kick. I never tangle with my mom, she's scary.

Stepping - I think I waited a long time to get married because I had such a fine example of what a marriage should be and how two people in one should treat each other.

BIA - Welcome to my blog!

my dad does a lot of housework now too, but my mother busies herself going in after him and redoing everything her way.

She also started a book and movie club.

Drinking heavily keeps them pretty busy too.

Johnny Yen said...

Get used to it. They act more and more like children as they get older, and you end up acting more and more like a parent. It's hilarious, actually.

Ms. Laaw-yuhr said...

Wow, my dad is going to retire soon and I wonder if he will acquire this similar disease. He's just recently taken up golf. Will he come to love furniture as well?

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

My dad doesn't golf. When he retired, he spent the first two years fixing everything in the house. Things like that chair... it'd have been reglued, clamped, maybe even refinished -- then put back into action. Seriously, he used like 100 tubes of caulk during that timespan. Similarly, though, my parents are driving each other nuts now that they're together all day.

Churlita said...

Okay, maybe staying single my whole life isn't such a bad idea after all.