There was a time–it wasn’t that long ago–when America was a simpler place.
Kids with names like “Buddy” and “Sis” would race home from school to be embraced by their mothers, who would give them a plate of Hydrox Cookies and glasses of milk and then watch with heads cocked fondly to one side as the children ran into the living room to watch “Tennessee Tuxedo” or “Top Cat.”
The girl from the country who helped mom with the housekeeping–usually named “Augusta” or “Wanda Jean”–would say something like “Those young’uns of y’orn are as cute as peahens!” Your mom would say, “Thank you Augusta or Wanda Jean–now finish washing the storm windows.” She knew how to keep the hired help in line. A careless tone of familiarity could trigger expectations of a $5 tip at Christmas, setting off a vicious wage-price spiral that would destroy the life savings of the middle class.
But those days are gone. Today, the young boy and girl who round the corner of the dining room and hurtle into the living room, turning front-to-back in mid-air, salchow-style, so that they will end up on the couch facing the TV, are in for a rough landing.
Because Mom has drunk at the fountain of feminine fulfillment–try saying that five times fast–and now elevates fashionable home furnishing over the simple needs of her family. The couch is covered with throw pillows, and Hydrox cookies and milk go flying all over the place, leading to screams of dismay–”I just bought that Provencal print pillow at Pottery Barn!”–recriminations, tears, corporal punishment, and a precipitous decline in standardized test scores.
Or consider dad. He’s had a hard day down at the Acme Pneumatic Drills plant. He’s read the sports pages, smoked his pipe, laughed at Jackie Gleason, and is getting tired. “I think I’m going to call it a day, sweetie–you coming to bed soon?”
“I just want to watch Imogene Coca, then I’ll be right up,” mom says.
“Okay,” dad says. He trudges up the stairs, changes into his pajamas, brushes his teeth and is all set to “hit the hay” when his tired eyes turn to his bed and see–a stack of throw pillows piled over the headboard like the aftermath of an avalanche down a mountain populated by interior decorator trolls.
“Arrgh!” he screams, in the manner of Henry II. “Is there no one who will rid me of these troublesome pillows?”
Dad doesn’t dare touch the pillows himself. He knows he’ll only get in trouble. He waits until the little woman comes running upstairs, removes the pillows from the bed and arranges them just so. By the time she’s done, it’s time to go to work. Just thank your lucky stars that dad isn’t the pilot on your 7:30 a.m. flight to Dallas.
Nervous environmental nellies are always complaining about global warming, which even in the worst-case scenario isn’t going to actually drown anybody until like 2100. America’s throw pillow crisis affects people every day–right now! If present trends continue, the entire North American continent will be covered with throw pillows by 2015.
What are the tell-tale signs that throw pillow inundation may soon leave you “under chintz”, as climatologists say? Here is a handy, dishwasher-safe list you can keep with you as the ruffles start to rise around you:
Decorating magazine “creep”. Throw-pillow “rampages” are, in fact, much rarer than supermarket tabloids would have you believe. Most purchases of throw pillows are premeditated, and excessive throw pillow-cide the end result of an interior decorating scheme gone horribly awry. How can you tell if your wife is planning a large-scale throw pillow purchase? The appearance of stacks of decorating magazines around the house. “Just as caterpillars have thicker fur before a cold winter,” says Ray Suggins, Jr. of the Missouri State Department of Fish and Game, “a pile of decorating magazines is a sure sign that the throw pillows are on their way.”
There’s a throw pillow in the cat’s bed. Throw pillow “junkies” like to conceal their habit by off-loading excess pillows to places where they will escape detection. “Cats are colorblind, so giving them a preppy plaid throw pillow is a waste of money,” says Marci Standler of Creative Impressions, a home design consultancy in Wellesley Falls, Massachusetts. “I would stick to neutral tones–taupe, oyster, buttermilk.”
There’s no room for your snowblower in the garage. Throw pillows can brighten up any room, but the garage isn’t a “room,” okay? “Decorating a garage, tool room or ‘guy town’ basement with throw pillows is considered grounds for divorce in many western states,” says domestic relations attorney Earl Grealy, Jr., and the trend is spreading.
“A man needs a place to go where his bad taste can run free,” Grealy says, ”and a chintz throw pillow is going to clash with just about any poker dogs poster.”