Decorators Anonymous

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Imagine you are going for an after-dinner walk with your family in your hometown. All of sudden, the brand new Cadillac Escalade of the known local drug dealer comes cruising around the corner ahead of you, menacing, black, gleaming, twenty-two inch custom rims, tires no thicker than a rubber band, baseline pulsing and throbbing like something out of Jaws or Alien and registering on seismographs in distant cities. You can sense the stolen Glock resting casually on the seat by the dealer’s muscular thigh. You can almost smell the violence and danger emanating out of the vehicle. And as he cruises slowly by he looks at your teenaged son and gives that insulting, contemptuous, miniscule upward thrust of the jaw that is in fact a greeting.

“Hey Joe,” he says.

You turn to look at your son and see, immediately and unmistakably, the guilty, shamefaced look that tells you, you have a problem.

Something very similar happened to me recently. My wife and I were doing chores, getting some things we needed at Home Depot. I like Home Depot. I like the smell of the lumber. I like the shiny new tools I haven’t a clue how to use or even what their intended purpose is. I still harbor the secret fantasy that if I owned some of that stuff, I might miraculously be transformed into a skilled Harry Homeowner. Or more realistically, a modestly competent Harry Homeowner. Or at least quasi-competent. Oh, hell; I’ll settle for not being a total klutz.

But as we passed the Home Decoration/Paint section, the girl behind the counter called Darleen by name. I turned to look at my wife and to my dismay the brazen hussy didn’t even have a guilty, shamefaced look—in fact, she looked as happy as cheerful as if nothing out of the ordinary were occurring—but I knew. When your wife is known by name at every home decorating, interior design, and paint store within a ninety mile radius, you have a problem.

So with that in mind, I have decided to make my fortune by opening a rehab center for hopeless decorating addicts: Decorators Anonymous.

It will be a twelve step program based on AA, but there ain’t gonna be nothing non-profit about it. Darleen likes to decorate, so I desperately need all the profit I can get my hands on. I’m going to model it on those fancy-schmanzy celebrity rehab centers in Malibu and places like that. Thousands of dollars a night for private rooms, gourmet meals, steam rooms and saunas, yoga classes, Pilates, meditation, hot stone massage, guided walks along the beach, the whole nine yards. If I can get away with it, I’ll include some aversion therapy, electric shocks every time anyone succumbs and picks up a copy of Architectural Digest. That sort of thing.

And best of all, there will be a corresponding support group, Long Suffering Husbands of Decorating Addicts (LSHDA), where men can sit on Lazy Boys that are never moved, smoke cigars, flick the ashes on the floor, drink beer, blow dust balls at each other, and watch football games to their hearts’ content. I’ll have to consult with Darleen and have her help me choose a really nice color for that man cave.

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