I rarely join the masses in their exodus to the beach or the lakes during American holidays like Memorial Day or July 4th. I am crowd averse and enjoy staying local, taking advantage of the less frenetic pace. Last Saturday, a friend and I relaxed chez moi watching movies. She looked at the forlorn state of my yellowed bed pillows, depleted of any memory foam. Here is how our conversation ensued:
Gretchen: Uh, I have 3 pillows piled behind my head, yet they are the thickness of a dinner napkin and so uncomfortable. (She removed the pillowcases to inspect them further.) Yup, just as I suspected these are ancient and so yellow they look like something your dogs peed on. (She took a whiff.) Ok, they don't smell like canine urine, but something tells me you have had these pillows since college.
Me: Nope, not college. They are maybe 5 years old. They are yellow because I sweat when I sleep like a 5 yr. old. I have a lot on my mind all the time. I am too busy thinking about what I am going to have for lunch next week. Or maybe the shoes that I have been eyeing for months will finally go on sale on Shoescribe.com. You know, important stuff.
Gretchen: Get up and get dressed. These bed sheets could use help too. Only an ex-con living in a flop house would sleep on these. We're going to Home-Goods to buy some, uh, hmm, home goods.
Me: Perfect. What do most Americans do on Memorial Day anyway? They are either marching in a parade, sitting on a beach, or shopping at the mall. LET'S. GO. SHOPPING! For the uninitiated, Home-Goods is the Target of decorative items. It is an interior designer's go-to on a tight budget, perfect for college kids' shoestring dorm room or anyone who wants a bargain on sheets, pillows, lamps and other household tschotchkes, made in China.
Does one really need to hide a harmless box of Kleenex in a ceramic container with Savon de France written on it? That trash bin and container for Q-tips/cotton balls with LE BAIN written on it reminds me I should store them in a bathroom. That hamper on the right with nautical rope is a nice touch. It most likely wound up at HomeGoods as a defective product, since the words EAUDE should have a space between the "U" and "D." Perfume for the toilet? I wonder how many Americans know that Eau de Toilette is the literal translation in French. Why does is say PARFUME then?
We started in the bathroom section. How many people loathe bathroom items inscribed with fancy Français script? This craze is over 20 years old and for some insane reason, do shoppers think that French elevates mundane items? Do we really seek the French equivalents of soap, small trash receptacles, soap dishes and hampers? Why the hell does this silver trash can or cotton ball canister have LE BAIN scrawled on it? Get REAL! It's Le Trâshcan pour Le Garbage! Another pet peeve-why is the ceramic tissue box inscribed with SAVON DE FRANCE? Are the French a paragon of hygiene? Do the French go gaga over bathroom items with English inscriptions? If Americans want to appear cosmopolitan and worldly, then by all means buy bathroom items labeled in questionable French. C'est très STUPIDE, n'est-ce pas?
I found a better use for that LE BAIN trash bin. I am going to go as a French Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz this Halloween and wear it on my head. Ooh la la.
Our next stop was at the lamp section. This monstrosity left us speechless for a few seconds and then had us cackling. What the hell is this? It is part silver squid, protozoa and a genetic mutation created by Monsanto? We pulled it into the aisle, turned it on and squealed with delight. The flowers are made from cheap thin metal, the silver curly tentacles are made from thick ridged metal and the lights are contained in a faux Allium flower shape with rows of thin curled metal. This lamp is the gift that keeps on giving. What made us almost soil our trousers was that it comes with a pair of white cloth gloves. Yes, the same gloves which historians use to inspect pages of ancient scrolls before being displayed at the Smithsonian or Armenia's Matendaran. I almost bought this masterpiece so that I could summon the editors at Architectural Digest to style a shoot in my home, replete with the Chihuahuas nestled on new pillows.
We traipsed into the nautical themed section. I have one million pet peeves among which are nautical-themed items used to decorate beach or river front homes. Shells, nautical rope, straw life-sized anchors, oars, etc. simply annoy me and my sartorial senses. Why on earth would you take a piece of rope that looks like scrap found in a bin behind a Home Depot and then frame it? As for star fish, please leave them in the ocean. Well, at least I know where people from NJ buy their interior design items for their shore houses. They are so NAUTY and original.
Oh, man are those like shells n'shit? I can't wait to string several dozen of those shell wreaths around my entire Jersey shore house like Christmas lights. At only $149 a wreath, they are a steal.
How do I keep my Baba-Buoys afloat? Strap on some nautical stenciled round pillows.
A nautical themed beach house is not complete without these items. I suggest placing these in a bar area: A ship wheel can sit on top of a bar with little ceramic containers filled with beer nuts and pretzels. The two oars can be nailed on a wall above the bar. One oar says HAPPY HOUR and the other WARNING! (Mermaids). The final piece is an aqua colored styrofoam anchor with nautical rope embossment. Once you are done, invite the cast from "The Jersey Shore" over for their opinion.
Next up, the pillows section. Sidebar: during the February fall shows, I went mad for the coats and sweaters made from fuzzy-muzzy Muppets inspired textiles and fur. A darling pillow left a smile on my face because it was the color of green slime and as fuzzy as Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street.
We spent several hours in the store and decided to check out since our cart was overflowing. Don't you love the American check out aisle rimmed with impulse items? We found this 60s print wallet with 2 rows of plastic containers to organize one's meds. 8 containers for meds? That sounds about right in today's world. There is even a little note card where you can write the drug name and dosage in case you forget.
My favorite item in the store was this whimsical, cylindrical wallet/container with a mirror in the top portion with snap closure. I asked my friend, "What can you possibly store in this round container in your purse?" She blurted loudly, "Oh my God, give me that! I am going to store my uncut cocaine in it and use the mirror to snort lines. This is genius." I burst out laughing and looked to see who was in earshot. Thankfully, the woman behind me with an overflowing cart burst out laughing as well.
One hundred sixty dollars later, I was pleased with my 2 new memory foam pillows, 600 thread count sheet set, dog toys, 5 bags of movie popcorn, hat boxes and 5x bathroom magnifying mirror (my chin hair analysis growth is key) and 25 felt hangers. We created quite a stir at this mundane strip mall chain. But we were pleased that we could return home and binge watch episodes of Mad Men and FX's newest show, Fargo, on our new fluffy pillows and smooth comfortable sheets munching on bowls of movie popcorn.
God bless the military men and women who have served this great country. We are free in many respects like having the ability to choose from 10 varieties of movie popcorn. Though I may mock American culture (which sometimes deserves to be razzed) you won't find me in Canada or Denmark anytime soon. Let freedom ring!
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