Monday, January 3, 2011

The Tibetan Goat Hair Beanbag

"If we had any questions, we could talk to the owners. She then gestured to a stained orange couch on which three elderly people of questionable hygiene were staring into space smoking cigarettes, their ashes cascading around a glazed ceramic ashtray on the floor, sometimes landing in it. Sometimes not...The asking price on this house was $425,000."

At brunch this weekend, one new guest asked the perfectly obvious and reasonable question, "did you just move in?" Lucky for him, I'm past the "embarrassment" or "shame" phase that a normal hostess might feel when asked such a question. He wasn't being ungracious or anything -- it was a thoroughly plausible query. While the boxes are mostly unpacked, he was sitting on a rickety kitchen chair in the living room, looking out naked windows onto a busy street. That's because, in nine months, I haven't managed to find a stick of furniture I want in that room, much less window treatments.

The Rainman in me has its own schedule, and I refused to move anything in that I don't love. Add to that, I can't move on to something new until the last project is done and The Cave isn't quite finished yet. It's very tight quarters in there and while there's no room for more furniture, there is one corner left where somebody could sit, and my well-considered Design within Reach solution to this is: a beanbag chair.

I probably watched 13,000 movies from one between 1972 and 1982. ("So easy for you to die dramatically Billy Jack! It's a helluva lot tougher for those of us who have to keep on trying!") The night after we watched The Blob, my Dad thought it would be funny to stuff my beanbag chair through the bedroom window at about 4 in the morning. Hi-Larious.

Mine was a hideous robin's egg blue, and my brother's was a buttery soft fire-engine red. They were both permanently parked in front of our giant wooden Magnavox, which had long since stopped working and had become an "entertainment center" for the working RCA perched precariously atop it, with giant navy bath towels swathing the surface in between (to avoid scratching the grain of the "wood?" to improve the acoustics? I don't know.) Over time, the tiny little pellets leached out onto the floor, and you could feel each one of them grinding into the rug underneath in a strangely satisfying Princess and the Pea scenario. The seams slowly strained, and eventually burst. Duct tape was applied, and then re-applied. At some point, they were retired. I don't remember giving my permission and I'm certain my opinion was not sought.

The first few I found were easily as hideous as the models from my halcyon 1970s memories, or worse: cheap plastic molded into the shape and design of baseballs, footballs, and bowling balls. Of course I was having none of that. I was thinking more along the lines of fine leather, or sheepskin, or flokati. Something shimmery or furry. I knew it had to exist. After a few months of futile in-store shopping, someone finally suggested that there is such a thing as online retail these days. (I'm sure there is, but I'm glad to say that, except for an annual visit to 1-800-Contacts, that's one Revolution I haven't kept pace with.)

The Tibetan Goat Hair Pouf from HB
I searched on TempurPedic + West Elm + beanbag and landed at House Beautiful's ode to the beanbag chair. They had some lovely patterns and fabrics and I skimmed along the iPod until I was stopped dead in my tracks at this: "the Tibetan Goat Hair Pouf by Maison de Vacances through Calypso Home."

In my head, that crazy cat lady Susan Boyle started singing "I dreamed a dream..." I never saw that show, but I sure as hell saw those clips on the damn "news" every morning. (I found her name by googling "crazy singing cat lady.") I guess it stuck. I'm humming it right now. It is the inevitable soundtrack that goes with a pink Tibetan goat hair Pouf.

It violates my one central law of design, which is that I am not allowed pink in the house. I can have pink computers and pink phones and pink shoes (where "pink is a neutral" according to my Spanish Heiress friend). I might have pink pajamas and pink house slippers and a pink blowdryer, but I can't paint rooms with it; I can't decorate with it; it's not allowed on the furniture; that kind of thing. You have to draw the design line somewhere. I'm not going to drive a pink car. I'm not Mary f-in Kay.

That absolute RULE is the cold comfort I used to console myself with once I saw the price: $1,365... For a beanbag. I thought Maison de Vacance meant, more or less, empty house, but now I think it's French for, are you fucking kidding me?


Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House
Tamales and Tablecloths
No Place Like Home
The Last Day of Summer

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