Monday, August 6, 2012

Laura Petrie Syndrome with a Touch of Mrs. Ricardo Disease

There was an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show, “Give Me Your Walls,” when Laura declares that once they paint the walls, they will need to replace the curtains, then the carpet, then the couch and so on. This is Laura Petrie Syndrome, and I have been suffering from it all my life.

I have had more living room furniture than Lucy Ricardo, who had five different living room sets in six seasons! The writers knew the ridiculousness of this when Lucy wanted to buy sectional furniture, and Fred looked under the coffee table for the price tag since she had only had that set for a few months. However, I never perform a complete makeover of a room, I start with one item, and next thing I know I am replacing this and that. Therefore, I definitely have Laura Petrie Syndrome rather than Mrs. Ricardo Disease even though I do display symptoms of the latter.

The problem is I get bored easily, and if I have nothing to do on a particular day, I start changing things. I have a friend who likes to fix up his homes and always has a project going. Once he runs out of things to do, he sells his house and buys another project. The one he is in now has turned out to be a complete restoration, so he has been living in it for ten years. I have never seen him so unhappy.

My mechanic tells me that this happens a lot with car restorations. Someone will spend years and money on a restoration, and once the car is done, they no longer want it and look for another project. Some people just get bored with new cars. My brother has had more cars than Anne Romney.

I would like to say this all began with my first apartment, but it goes way further back than that. For reasons, which are not worth mentioning here, my mother decorated my brother’s bedroom with furniture she stained herself, nice curtains in a red, white and blue scheme and matching bedspreads and lamps. He even had a desk and chair. When she was done creating the royal prince’s quarters, it looked great, until he moved back in. I love my brother dearly, but he was a slob back then. Within minutes, his room looked like the donation room for a homeless shelter. There was more dust in that room than in Lily Munster’s basement. We thought he had wall-to-wall carpet – a fungus had grown on the floor. My mother always complained about it.

Nana was visiting once, looked in my brother’s room and said, “Your mother’s room looked like that when she was his age.” I thought I would die laughing. I believed her because my mother’s idea of cleaning a room was to not use it. As a result, she never dusted or vacuumed the living room. She thought cobwebs were artwork.

My room, on the other hand, was where all the old furniture went to die. My bedroom set – if you could call it that – was a dresser and twin bed that dated back to the 1930s, including the mattress, which had springs that poked through. The dresser drawers would fall apart whenever I opened them. My hair would get caught in the splinters in the headboard – not good for a Jewfro. My curtains, which I think once had a colorful diamond pattern that was very mid-century modern, were nothing more than threads held together with moth spit. My parents bought me one of those finish it yourself desks. My mother never finished it. She got mad when I reminded her that she spent so much time finishing my brother’s furniture. Apparently, I had insulted the evil stepmother, and I was sent to bed with a crust of bread and no invitation to the ball.

It was also during this period that I first heard the phrase, “This is good enough for you.”

To make matters worse, my bedroom was ten by eight. As I have relayed before, half my closet contained my mother’s clothes, so with that little space, I had to make due. And, make due I did. Neat freak that I was and still am, I decorated and redecorated that room more times than Mrs. Ricardo. I rearranged my furniture every week for fifteen years. Technically, that was my first studio apartment. I had artwork on the walls, a sitting area, an area rug, and at one point, an easy chair. None of it was new. All of it was someone else’s discards. The table and two chairs were part of an old kitchenette that belonged to a neighbor. The easy chair belonged to Aunt Flossie. Daisy loved sleeping in that chair; she did not like Alex’s room. Even a dog knows a mess when it sees one. I think this is also where I learned how to optimize space.

One would think I would outgrow this need to redecorate. One would most certainly be wrong.

I don’t think I have owned a couch for more than three years. In the last twenty-five years, I have owned eleven living room sofas. The one I have now is three years old, and I am already thinking of replacing it. I'm bored with the color.

The one bright spot in all of this is I never buy anything expensive. I always use the excuse that with dogs, furniture would be damaged, so why spend all that money. The truth is I know I will get bored with whatever I have, so why spend a fortune on something I will be either putting on the curb or taking to Goodwill in eighteen months? I am also cheap, and I think this is good enough for me.

The downside is my taste changes as often as my hairstyles. For a while, I couldn’t get enough mid-century modern, including a Formica and chrome dinette, Dick Van Dyke Show-inspired sofas, and those fabulous lamps. I even had a Formica end table with a top that spun around like a Lazy Susan – it was quite ugly as were a lot of the pieces I have owned over the years.

Then I went through my Quaker-style period. I had so much Mission and Quaker style furniture that I had to put an orange triangle on the back of my car.

Following all that came the blonde wood period. I don’t know what I was thinking, but in the middle of blonde wood era, I bought this entertainment unit from Ikea. You know all about Ikea furniture. Everyone owns at least one piece from Ikea, and when you go to any of their homes, they say, “Oh that. It’s from Ikea. I’m going to replace it.” They never do replace it because it took six hours to assemble, and they want to redeem their labor hours. In addition, it weighs a ton, and every time you move it, it comes apart. That piece will remain in their homes for the next several decades and in the same spot as well, and they will continue to say, “Oh that. It’s from Ikea. I’m going to replace it.”

When I bought my manufactured home (the trailer for which this blog is named), I swore I would not turn into Lucy Ricardo moving from an apartment into the country. I did not go with Betty Ramsey and get a discount on Early American furniture for an Early American home. Besides, Betty Ramsey would not live in my neighborhood. There is no country club nearby where she can entertain Barbara Eden.

What is appropriate for a trailer? Other than a couch on the porch and a Chevy on blocks? Manufactured furniture?

I can honestly say that I kept the couch. Unfortunately, everything other piece of living room furniture had to go … with one exception. You guessed it. The blonde wood entertainment center from Ikea. Bitch took four hours to assemble and had more moveable parts than Steve Austin; I was not about to put it on the curb, especially after I had to reassemble one of the drawers after the move.

I decorated the office, then the living room and the dining room. I had worked my way from one end of the house to the other. Old pieces kept moving toward the master bedroom, which is on the opposite end of the house from the office. Ironically, my first ever master bedroom became the place where all the old furniture went to die, including the piece from Ikea. I was ten years old again, and it was all good enough for me.

There was already a dresser in the bedroom that the seller’s left for me, since I gave my old bedroom furniture to the movers. So you see, I started before I even moved in!

I also decided to wait to decorate the bedroom to save some money. Ha!

Then my inner Laura Petrie took over.

I replaced the curtains in the bedroom. Then the headboard didn’t work, so I replaced that. Then the dresser that came with the house didn’t work, so I put it on the curb. Then the mirror on the wall didn’t work, so I replaced that. Then I did the unthinkable. I decided to get rid of the Ikea entertainment unit, which was occupying prime real estate in my boudoir.

I took the Ikea piece to Goodwill. They refused it. You know it is a piece of shit when even Goodwill won’t accept it. This is why everyone is stuck with that one piece from Ikea. Nobody else wants it!

The question now is when will I get bored with the office and start all over again?

Do you have Laura Petrie Syndrome or Lucy Ricardo Disease? If so, follow me, join me, buy my book by clicking here.

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