On our way to Chicago, Sunday, Chw and I tuned in to a Comedy station on Sirius for a while. At first it was really funny, then comedians changed and it was just ok before transitioning to flat-out awful and we decided enough was enough. Somewhere in there though, we heard a bit about cushioned toilet seats. Traffic was frustrating and I honestly don’t really remember any specifics (sorry) except to say that the comedian pointed out that the cushioned toilet seat is an unnecessary luxury because you shouldn’t have to sit there long enough to need padding… While not in and of itself deeply profound, it has really stuck with me. Growing up, a child in the 80’s, like many others I was generation big hair, overstuffed (marshmallow looking) furniture and Great Depression surviving grandparents. My grandmother washed bread bags, wasted NOTHING, even to the point of eating rotten food a time or two. If you ever showered in her bathroom, you may have used a threadbare towel and felt like a nice set of new fluffy towels would make a lovely Christmas gift. Of course, when she opened them, she would store them in a dresser in the back bedroom for when she needed them because she still had perfectly good towels. Well over a decade later, said towels would be pulled from said dresser, still tagged and folded and ruined from not being used. In the south they’d say Bless her heart… And it’s true. Most of us know exactly what I’m talking about. Cabinets full of washed butter and cool whip containers, enough to fill 180 fridges with leftovers. (and we’d save EVERY leftover. One green bean? Get that Parkay container out…) Bless her heart…
The thing about my grandma’s house was that, when you walked in, it was almost like walking back in time. Everything was Gold. Gold carpet, gold appliances, gold furniture. (as appliances began to die, this began to change.) In the late 80’s, and throughout the 90’s, we were thrilled to see her update with something more modern (Like the new TV she was forced to sit on top of her combination console/stereo/record player tv that didn’t work). Now, in 2014 what I wouldn’t give for half of the stuff she had in that house.
When my grandmother passed away, my aunt asked us to walk through her house and say what we’d like to have. At the time, emotionally overwhelmed, I quickly pointed out a green mixing bowl and struggled initially with anything else. (I lived thousands of miles away and had just flown in, so even if I’d asked for her amazingly vintage furnishings, it wouldn’t have happened…) As I walked through her strangely lifeless house, visions replayed from my youth as eyes fell on things, I headed straight for two dancing girl figurines that my grandmother kept on a table in her bathroom. As a young girl I had been fascinated with them and would often sit on her toilet for long periods of time, playing out story lines where one girl was me and the other was my mother. I knew as soon as I saw them again, that I’d take them as well. Even though I detest knick knacks, these were special.
This was 2006. At the time, jokes were made about who wanted that gold couch. (Which Grandma had always called The Divan.) Grandma’s house had always been where people were and so there was always a plethora of seating options. The gold couch was usually the last chosen as it was the least comfortable. Remember, we were from the era of marshmallow stuffed furniture and this sofa was straight out of the 60’s.
I’m sure I have photos with the couch somewhere, but not on my Macbook. I did find this photo online (from The White Elephant Resale shop in Chicago, which is sadly now closed, though images are still out there), which shows VERY similar fabric, though the style was a bit different. (this one looks a lot cushier.)
Feel free to look at that magnificent piece of furniture there, feel pity for the treasure that slipped from my metaphorical grasp, and then ask yourself how we went from cushioned toilet seats to amazing vintage sofas… Well, because my grandma, the woman who washed old bread bags to reuse and ate moldy cheese rather than waste it- my grandmother who once cooked a tumble weed because she was that resourceful, the woman who had a life of little luxury (minus a few great vacations and a really nice car anyway) had a cushioned toiled seat. I had never thought of this as a luxury (or thought much of it at all) until that comedy sketch, but it really is one.
Which led me to wonder if that’s really why I spent so much time sitting on that toilet, playing with those figurines? Because, lets face it, at the end of the day that seat was likely a whole lot softer to sit on than that couch.
And also I would like to point out, I’d probably give my left kidney for that couch…