What do you display on the walls of your home — photos, posters, artwork, nothing? How do you choose what to display? What mood are you trying to create?
A number of years ago my wife and I were invited to some friends’ home along with several other couples. The folks hosting the gathering were childless and lived a carefree life of travel when not working. The rest of us had children and when receiving the invitation asked to find a babysitter.
As I look back on that evening I think that in a subtle way our hosts were letting everyone know how good they had it by being childless and how exceptional they were to have the ability to enjoy the finer things.
They had a private bar that equaled or exceeded many commercial establishments. The food that was served were recipes from places they had traveled. All of us in one form or another were farm folks. We were a meat and potatoes crowd. To us escargot was a clumsy way of saying snails and Lambrusco was the best wine we’d ever had.
Allow me to preface a point or so, I really like peoples’ stories. I like people. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to hear a person who thinks their life has nothing and is uneventful go on for hours about the stories that make up their live.
But the couple that hosted our party lived, what some might call, an adventuresome life with absolutely nothing to show or say for it in the way of experiences. It was painful for all of us.
On one wall of their eclectic designed apartment was a clarinet, a violin, and cornet. To me what people hang on the wall is sort of a focal point for possible conversation. Here is how it went as I tried to elicit some sort of interesting or amusing story from them:
“Ah, I see one of you plays music?” I said.
“No,” he said.
“You must be referring to the clarinet, violin, and horn,” she said.
“Actually it’s a cornet,” I said.
“Oh,” he said as if I had now spoiled the entire wall and years of living with the illusion it was a horn.
“So tell us about them?” I said. “They appear interesting.”
They looked at each other like two convicts trying to get their stories straight through mental telepathy.
At last with their stories synchronized through a series of twitches and facial tics he said, “We actually found them on the curb about to be picked up by the trash.”
“Yes,” she said. “We know nothing about them except they came from 820 East Benton.”
There was a painful silence. No one had the audacity to breathe let alone clear their throat.
Finally I suggested, “Next time invite those folks. I’m sure they’ll have something interesting to pass on about the clarinet, violin and horn.”
Everybody looked at me with near disdain. I outed them for the bores that they were.
“What!” I said to those looks of disdain. “It’s a good thing those folks at 820 Benton didn’t toss out a calliope, it would have taken up the whole room.”
Thank goodness somebody had the courtesy to spill a drink at that moment.
If you have something on the wall it should mean something and have some sort of story.