Dear White Furniture,
We met two years ago at a high-end home goods store. My husband and I had just purchased our first home in the suburbs and set forth on a feverish quest to furnish eight rooms in two weeks because we’re all about careful planning. The moment I set eyes on you — a sturdy sofa large enough to fit a family of three and a half, alongside your faithful companion, the love seat, where I pictured myself cuddling my newborn son with one arm and cradling a cup of peppermint tea with the other — I knew I had to have you. You were all wrong for me. You were a minimalist at heart, inspired by Scandinavian design but more robust, like a Swedish football player born in the wrong country. Worst of all: You were white.
My husband shook his head and prepared for battle as he watched me plop down onto your cushion and sink no further than a centimeter — because you are too serious to allow for optimum squishiness and mirth. “We can’t buy white furniture,” he protested. “We have young children.”
I couldn’t come up with a captivating rebuttal. At the time, my daughter had just turned 3, and my son wasn’t yet crawling. All our friends with kids seemed to share the same taste in furniture: black or dark brown and able to hide sins, plush enough to lull four kids to sleep at once, with no fewer than 6 million throw pillows for God knows what reason and, most important, cheap as hell. They bought their furniture with the understanding that they’d have to replace everything before their kids started school. Our friends are very intelligent people.
But I wanted you. Badly. And my emotions were blurring any semblance of rationality. No offense, but looking back now, it wasn’t even about you. I mean, you’re nice enough, but your appeal was that you symbolized the kind of parental attitude I was intent on adopting. I refused to become the kind of parent who turned her home into a playpen in anticipation of the clutter and chaos kids would bring into our home lives. No. They would have to change their ways to suit my vision of a tranquil home environment, one that was uncluttered and divinely Danish.
“It’s not white. It’s winter white.”
And with that, my husband knew it was over.
Both you and your love seat, along with a matching winter white ottoman, were delivered to our new home within a few weeks. Although you were on sale and I considered you a bargain, we dropped an additional $240 for a protection plan and fancy cleaning products that would ensure you kept your looks for up to seven years. So, not at all a bargain. But still: fancy cleaning products! The sole source of joy my husband received from this purchase was the knowledge that if this whole experiment went to pot, he could say, “I told you so.”
Fast-forward two years: The “I told you so’s” have been expressed in a variety of vocal ranges, from sarcastic to dejected to pitying. And that’s because, oh lovely white furniture, we now have a toddler. And, for whatever reason, he seems to have developed a furious disdain for you. He sees you as competition. You’re something he must conquer. He’s out to destroy you and, worse, has convinced his mild-mannered big sister to join him on this quest.
Like pocket-size Bonnie and Clydes, they sneak sippy cups filled to the brim with prune juice into the living room when I’ve turned my head for a second. They know what will happen when they start bouncing on you, yet they do it anyway, and prune juice goes flying across the room and all over your insanely hard-to-clean fabric (fancy cleaning products — uh-huh). They delight — delight! — in racing from the front door to collapse in a muddy-sneakered heap on top of you after they’ve just walked in from playing in dirt. That’s right — don’t judge me, they sometimes play with dirt. And don’t change the subject — I see what you’re trying to do.
The point is this: They’ve destroyed you and, in the process, my hopes and dreams of being the kind of parent who deserves white furniture in her home. I’ve earned myself a black couch, one that isn’t even leather — one made of pleather.
I’m sure it’s silly to blame you, but I really think you could have done more to help me beat the odds. Reacted better to a combination of seltzer and salt. Screamed “no!” when one of them came at you, obviously out for blood. I thought we were a team.
I bet Ivanka Trump’s furniture has her back.
And with that, we’re breaking up. See you — or more realistically, your Norwegian cousin — in about 16 years.
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