Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Have a Baby in my Refrigerator

But what is so freaking sacred about curtains? A post about clashes between stereotypical bachelors and stereotypical girly girls.

There is usually an explanation for everything. When bad things happen there is a cause for them. When good things happen there is usually some different cause. When “reality shows” get consistently high ratings there must be some reason for that too, even though figuring it out is quite beyond me.

There is also some reason why there is a picture of a baby taped to the back of my refrigerator. It might not be a good reason, or even a reasonable one, but there is a reason. If only I could remember it, I might give some sense to the title of this post. At the moment it escapes me though.

Somehow I feel that it can all be explained by telling you more about what I do and how I live; I feel that can explain a lot of the strange things in my life.

I am a university student. At least that’s what I claim to be when I’m not living the life of a lazy bum or working some strange job to make ends meet. As a student I have always had some natural ability to live in strange places, with strange people.

When I first moved to the city me and some friends rented a fairly big place; a cheap and poorly built five bedroom apartment in two stories. Through a few years we lived a varying number of inhabitants there. Most of the time we lived between three and five people there and all in all we were over a dozen different people during the course of the little “collective”, mostly males.

Now, an apartment inhabited by a number of young male nerds usually has some defining characteristics. There’s the piles of obsolete technology, the video games (in our case even an old-style arcade machine from the eighties), the bookshelves filled with booze and cheap fantasy-books, and so on.

All that is to be expected. Some didn’t expect the picture of a baby (a baby whom none of us knew, and I don’t remember if we ever knew who put there or why) inside the refrigerator though. Sometimes it was on a shelf, sometimes taped securely to the back and visitors who saw it always gave us very quizzical looks.

However, even if baby pictures in the refrigerator might be a strange notion, people still reacted a lot stronger to other, very unimportant things.

Take this whole thing with curtains for instance. To us they were always merely unimportant pieces of fabric obstructing the view out of our windows (or at least they would have, if there were any) but others seemed to take an almost reverent approach to the subject. We learned that quickly from a group of our female friends.

The first time they came to visit they noted the complete lack of curtains in the kitchen windows. They complained about this, claiming that we have to have curtains to make it look like there are some at least semi-normal people living there.

So, we thought “OK, fine, we can accept that. Curtains are a nice, if a bit novel touch. We’ll try that.” We had it fixed pretty quickly and thought that would be that.

We were however quite incorrect. At the next visit of some female friends, one girl immediately pointed at our pride and joy, the blue curtains now hanging stalwartly in the windows, and exclaimed “They’re hanging upside down.”

Now, to be fair, she was correct. We just hadn’t noticed before, but when she pointed it out it was hard to miss that design on the curtains made it clear that they should have the other side up. So, OK, our mistake, but it was a mistake that we quickly remedied.

But that’s when we thought it started to get silly. The next time that girl visited she noted that we had turned the curtains the right way and expressed her appreciation. But then she paused and looked at them for a while.

“Hey…” she said, hesitantly, obviously dreading the answer, “they still seem to be hanging in a very odd way.” She looked closer. “You didn’t just attach right to the wall with thumbtacks, have you?”

“Of course not!” we said. “We wouldn’t just put them up with thumbtacks, we’re not stupid.”

She looked relieved.

“There are screws at the ends too, to help hold up the weight of the curtains.” we explained, whereupon she looked substantially less relieved.

We were very satisfied with our answer, but she apparently wasn’t. She scolded us again for our lack of common sense and explained a strange notion she held. She claimed that curtains should be put up on some strange device called a “curtain rod”, which according to her would make the whole arrangement look better.

“Well, nuts to that,” we thought. There were curtains, they were hanging at the windows, and they were even hanging the right way up. We were not about to accept any more complaints in that department; we felt that we had done our jobs decorating.

And that was the way it was in many areas of interior decorating. We did things the way we thought they should look, others (usually females, for some reason) complained and there was a process of incremental “improvement” to make the place look more like they thought a “home” should look like.

By the time we moved out we all agreed that the place looked almost like it had had people living there, not just students.

Oh and the baby went with me to my new apartment. It still adorns the back wall of my fridge; now mostly out of tradition, as well as aesthetic reasons, of course.