Truth #27: You never see hamsters in dove grey rooms.
Occasionally, when the piles of magazines and papers get a bit much, I daydream about having a house that looks like an In Style double page spread, dove grey rooms and linen cupboards straight out of Martha Stewart Living, a makeover kitchen in toasted almond and cookie crumb. In this dream I swan about all day in a cashmere bathrobe and turban towel and at night friends come by, sit on a perfect couch next to a perfect coffee table from which vantage point they covet our contemporary art collection composed of all the right things while sipping a perfectly shaken (or stirred) martini in the most current and fashionable flavour.
Strangely, this is about where the daydream starts to fall apart. Not only do I hate the idea of having to find space in the cupboards for martini glasses, and a shaker, no one in this scenario ever says anything of interest. It’s all about finishes and flooring and poured cement lofts and I stop dreaming and begin wondering: where are the shoes in these dove grey rooms? And the shopping and the keys and all those flyers from the mailbox and the mail that has yet to be looked at much less dealt with. And where in the double page spread do you put the weeds your slightly demented wheelchair-bound mother insists you pick as you push her about the neighbourhood because she thinks they’re so beautiful and she wants you to have them and even though they’re prickly roadside weeds covered in roadside dust you pick them, thinking you’ll throw them out later and she’ll never know—and indeed, she has forgotten about them, but by then they’re in a jar on a table and every time you look at them they make you smile.
And where are the cat’s catnip toys? And if we had a dog, a very big dog, where would it eat in the cookie crumb kitchen? And never mind dogs, what if we had a hamster? Where would its cage go with all those woodshavings and slopped water dishes—you never see hamster cages on the In Style pages—and and why in every single dove grey room is there nothing to read that looks interesting and where are the fridge magnets? The kind that say I ♥ the Cook—bought the first time somebody made somebody else a meal ten thousand years ago and that has been on at least one other fridge before this and is still relevant—or the one with those words of comfort and fear by Somerset Maugham about how there are three rules for writing a novel but no one knows what they are, or the homemade one: a collage of four faces in a photo booth in San Juan.
Despite all those excellent questions, the other day I found myself in the grip of another dove grey delusion and began clearing off the fridge door once and for all. Peter walked by as I was stripping the thing of Peanuts and Bizarro and a red tulip drawn by my niece, a collection of photos: young nephew in oversized swimming goggles, wrapped in towel by edge of pool, looking like a large chilly insect; the elegant tail of a friend’s cat; a donkey in Algiers.
What are you doing, he said.
I explained the naked fridge zen of Martha Stewart. I said something about martinis.
To which he replied: How can you do that? The fridge door is who we are.
My reaction of course was mild insult. After all, a fridge door is a far cry from a cashmere robe. I made a small sound that suggested he couldn’t possibly understand my delusions and carried on until I’d removed every photo, every cartoon, including the one where Michaelangelo is putting the finishing touches on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and his dad shouts up to him, pointing: you missed a spot! Then I spritzed the door with my lovely new eco-bio-cleanser and stood back to take in the gleaming ‘space’ of it. Then, after admiring its whiteness for about a second, I put (most of) the stuff back where it belongs. Because who am I kidding—I’m a fridge door.