Let old acquaintance be forgot


When I was visiting my son at his college fraternity house a few years back, we were looking at the yearly group photos of members from previous decades on the wall, and my son was expressing disbelief that anyone could have thought those hair styles, glasses, and clothes could possibly be flattering. I said, “In another 30 years, some other guy is going to be standing in this spot saying the same thing about you.” He looked positively stricken.

I have the same feeling when I’m watching Home and Garden TV shows about remodeling or finding one’s first house. I love watching the look of horror that overcomes prospective home buyers’ faces as they walk in and exclaim in dismay, “It’s so ’80s!” adding, “ALL of this has to go!”


Sorry, prospective home buyers, but I remember lusting after the latest model homes featuring all-the-rage shag carpet, avocado or harvest gold appliances (instead of boring white), mirrored accent walls, wrought iron railings, large-pattern wallpaper, and the ultimate accoutrement, the sunken living room.

I can therefore guarantee that in another couple decades, prospective home buyers on HGTV’s House Hunters will walk into homes and announce, “These granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, and trey ceilings have got to go!”

Their realtor will point out that painting over the red accent wall is an easy fix and that a structural engineer can be consulted as to how to get rid of that open concept layout that allowed absolutely no privacy, and add some walls for some more defined space. He will assure them that those stainless steel appliances that show every freaking fingerprint can be replaced with white ones, and those wine-glass-breaking granite countertops can be reconfigured in some eco-friendly version of Formica.

It’s amazing how rabidly we can turn on styles that we once so adored. Or how good we are at euphemizing into current desirability old styles we can’t get rid of. I can’t help but notice that the “mid- century bungalow” the HGTV realtor is shilling is actually a 1950s tract house with lots of wood paneling.

When my former husband and I bought our 1947 home in 1973, some rooms still sported the “in” paint colors of the 1950s: Pepto Bismol Pink and Penal Institution Green. Every house in my neighborhood originally had them. The previous owners of our home had upgraded it with big-flowered wallpaper in the dining room and wall-to-wall green shag carpet over the hardwood floors throughout the house.

We might still have that carpet except for the fact that on Jan. 7, 1981, the city’s failure to maintain sewer trunk lines after the passage of Proposition 13 caused, through no fault of ours, a main line block that re-routing the entire neighborhood’s sewage through our house for two hours before city emergency crews could shut it off. Horror movies have nothing on this scenario.

It was 7 a.m., my then-husband, who was never home when I needed him, was off playing tennis when there was a sudden earthquake-type trembling. Seconds later, geysers of black water spewed out of every drain in the house — toilets, bathtubs, sinks, showers. Ultimately, I concluded that this was God’s way of saying, “Sorry for the overkill, Inga. But that green shag was so last decade.”



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