Monday, July 21, 2008

so boho...

Big house, big car, back seat, full bar.
Houseboat won't float. Bank won't tote the note.
Too much stuff. There's just too much stuff.
It'll hang you up, dealing with too much stuff.

Hangin' out on the couch puttin' on the pounds.
Better walk, run, jump, swim. Try to hold it down.
You're eatin' too much stuff, too much stuff.
It'll wear you down, carrying around too much stuff.

Hundred dollar cab ride, fogged in, can't fly.
Greyhound, Amtrak, oughta bought a Cadillac.
Too much stuff. Too much stuff.
It'll slow you down, fooling with too much stuff.

Delbert McClinton, Too Much Stuff

I got this online ad from CB 2 and I have to admit, it took me back, to the days when I was a bride, living so boho in a coach house that we'd rented, behind a row house on State Street, in Chicago in the early 70's. We had brick walls that I'd painted white like the wall in the ad. Very rustic and pretty, but incredibly cold in the insulation. There were bars on the windows of the coach house, and they were essential because our front door, a heavy metal door (also uninsulated) opened onto the alley. We gave a lot of dinner parties in those days, which is interesting when I look back on it, as heaven knows I didn't know how to cook...but that didn't discourage me. We served lots of liquor, and the conversation was always lively, and if anyone noticed I couldn't cook, they were polite enough not to mention it. One cold, rainy November night when we were throwing a party, one friend making his way through the rain-soaked alley to our front door spotted what appeared to be a puppy, gamely swimming in the fast moving, icy water in the alley. Horrified and intending to rescue it, he stooped down and made kissing sounds, trying to encourage it to come to him...which it puppy at all, but a big, fat, very much alive Chicago rat! Yipes! He narrowly escaped getting bit. But back to CB 2...all of us were broke in those days. There wasn't much in the way of inexpensive but stylish merchandise. Pier I existed, but there was no IKEA, and if Target was around, it wasn't anywhere near us, right in the city. Crate and Barrel existed, too, in a small, two story building on Wells Street in Chicago, where the merchandise really was displayed in crates and barrels filled with sisal...and upstairs were bolts and bolts of beautiful Marimekko fabrics.
I remember buying remnants and sewing a tablecloth and napkins. Our furniture, and the furniture of most of our young married friends, consisted mostly of things cast off by others that still had some usefulness. Our kitchen table was an old drafting table that we'd polyurethaned to protect the surface, but still, it was nothing more than a piece of wood on a cast iron pedestal, and a cat jumping onto the surface in the middle of the night would never fail to send the toaster and anything else we'd left out on it crashing to the floor, along with the cat, as the table top slammed into a vertical position. That always brought both of us bolt upright out of a sound sleep. Our tv (no cable, it goes without saying) sat on a metal milk crate. (On Sunday nights, we never had anyone over because we ate dinner quietly, watching Masterpiece Theatre.) Our dining room table was actually a rather nice oversized desk, but as it was too short for anyone to sit comfortably at, it was inevitably stacked up on books, to make it higher, and if a guest had too much to drink and slammed a fist on the table, making a point, it wasn't unheard of for a corner of the table to topple off the stack of books, to the general hiliarity of everyone present. I don't remember ever feeling deprived by not having lots of pretty things. If anything, I enjoyed the occasional splurge at Crate & Barrel that much more...I treasured the 4 onion soup bowls we bought one Saturday afternoon (my early ventures in cooking began with soups), and in fact I still have them in a cupboard.

Times have changed. Most young marrieds in this country begin their lives with much more material stuff...and with stuff of course comes debt...neither of which any of us had when we started out. Today I have a house filled with beautiful things, and cupboards filled with beautiful dishes and glassware, and yet I never give dinner parties anymore, nor do I know anyone my age who does. Do the young people who frequent CB2 and IKEA and Target invite their friends in, to eat and drink and talk into the night together? I hope so. Because when I think of those times, sometimes it seems to me that people were more connected, and despite (or maybe because of) the lack of STUFF, we spent more time simply enjoying each other's company.


Tammy said...

I bet it was a very cosy place because you have probably always had good taste.

I think the young still gather but it's via text messaging, cellphones and video games. :)

The young people I know "hang out" but I doubt it's not a sit down dinner. Maybe a BBQ? lol

Chris said...

I agree with Tammy on all three points:)

Lisa :-] said...

How many young married people do you know? The girls who work for me hang out together, but I don't think there are dinner parties to be had, since none of them knows how to cook (or spell, or write...but that's a different rant.)

Debt is way more acceptable than it was when we were kids. You want it? Buy it on time! And if, in the end, you find you really can't afford it, either let it get repo'd or go banko! Everybody does it...!

Paul said...

It's describe what sounds like the basis for a strong marriage. And you're still friends with your ex. It makes one wonder what it takes to make that particular institution work.

I think this essay should go on your *best of* list.

Jan said...

Thank you for writing this.

TJ said...

I doooooooo remember much like yours, a little went a long way and there was always much laughter, liquor and talk of dreams.

My fits marriage was a breif 5 years, my best friend took my seat after all those wekends spent together as couples.

I still carry the fond memories and have let go of the pain that came with the betrayal.

I was happy...unknowing the changes that my future was going to bring. It was a change for the best and I am thankful I was cut loose.

We made new friends together 1500 miles away and I haven't any regrets.

Little is good...slow is good and watching things change can be even better.

Thinking of you always,
( great entry you have)