It's curtains!
I've Seen The Light,
And It's Not The Sun

I now have conclusive proof that dolphins are smarter than we are. The proof—they don't need curtains (or dishes or cars or VCRs or porcelain figurines for that matter). Clearly they must be smarter if they can live happy lives without all the stuff we "need."

I've come to that conclusion today because I'm in the midst of a "curtain trauma," as the evil decorating genius that occasionally inhabits my wife is trying to find new living room curtains to replace the ones she made 11 years ago.

I didn't think selecting some long pieces of fabric involved months of drama and intrigue, but apparently I was wrong (again). We are now on our third set of "window treatments" and these, too, have failed to pass muster.

Now, you have to understand, these aren't ordinary drapes. These are "environmental enhancements" that not only must look good, but must also keep out the "damaging rays of the sun." I didn't realize it, but, my wife has implied in uncertain terms that everything we have in the living room will dissolve into a pile of dust if the sun so much as touches it.

Now—I understand that direct sunlight can destroy fabric and carpet, yet somehow other people manage to make their belongings last without having to live in total darkness. Our unique solution has been for the design motif of said living room to be "Hibernation Bear Cave Chic." So even after 12 years, everything in the room would appear like new, if you could only see it.

One of the supposed purposes of the new curtains was to "make the room lighter." My wife always laughs at a TV decorator named "Hildy" who has a trick of saying she's making the room "lighter" while actually painting it black, but her style of decorator rhetoric seems to be infectious.

We first bought light curtains, a beachy beige and black canopy stripe that was the antithesis of bear cave. They looked great in the catalog and arrived looking like used medical gauze through which light streamed as if they were invisible. Ms. Mole did not approve. Those were mailed back.

My wife then explained that when she said she wanted the room to be "lighter" she was talking about the color of the curtain fabric and she didn't mean she wanted actual light entering the room. But of course.

Next we tried matchstick blinds—these would block direct sun but let the view and some light in. I thought they were great, but apparently too much deadly light was sneaking through and we needed something more "dense" (other than my head).

This lead to a loud public argument in a Home Depot where my wife insisted on bamboo blinds that I felt would be perfect for a trailer in Alabama but which didn't go with our living room. My wife explained that this would lend an air of "the English Bahamas" to our living room, even though the rest of the room was totally devoid of anything English or remotely Bahamian.

These blinds got home and once in the window were pronounced "dreadful" by the very person who'd chosen them (who shall remain nameless) so they went back.

I was starting to wonder it was a matter of taste. My wife and I have always had almost uncannily similar taste in things, so we don't have the problem that some couples do. There's a TV program called "Designing for the Sexes" where the man usually wants all chrome and glass while the wife wants English Country chintz and the smart decorator gives them something with no chrome but just a touch of glassy chintz so that no one really got what they wanted but his soothing tone made them believe they wanted beige art deco all along.

Yesterday new drapes (which were suddenly being referred to as "panels"), started to arrive, via eBay. They were beautiful Dupioni silk which you can buy at famous design shops for the price of food for a month. On eBay they only cost the price of food for a week. They were supposedly "taupe" but I thought they were green. I was huffily informed that they were "bronze," and went around thinking I had suddenly become colorblind until a few days later when a certain someone accidentally referred to them as "greenish."

They were quite beautiful in the package, and I even liked them in the window. My wife, however, was concerned that they let too much light in, and she didn't like the color or the texture. Other than that my guess is that they were perfect.

Now she has to sell them on eBay from whence they came, so if you're looking for luxurious greenish-bronze drapes that let in enough light to actually see in your room, just search for "Dupioni taupe silk" and you can enjoy them too.

So it's back to the drawing board. I jokingly suggested gluing aluminum foil on the windows and was shocked by her delighted reaction. Perhaps I'll make lemonade by creating little pinpricks in the foil so it looks like stars. I am joking, of course. We'd never put foil in the windows. That would be too easy.


Daniel Will-Harris

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One more thing:

The sun is allowed to enter the house in our kitchen, dining room and my office. I know you're relieved to hear that.



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