Monday, August 22, 2011

The Significance of Chintz Curtains

Last week it was all about the women; this week I plan to revisit posts featuring Blandings boys young and old.  This post originally appeared October 7, 2009.

Many years ago, when Mr. Blandings and I were first married, we went out to dinner with his father and step-mother.


Mr. Blandings the elder is old school. He mostly likes things the way they are, or rather, the way they have always been.

In a cozy restaurant on a winter evening we began to discuss a club to which the elder Mr. B belonged. I made an off-hand and stinging comment about the policy of having a separate dining room for women during the lunch hour.

As often happens, small sparks start large flames and he and I were heatedly engaged as our spouses stared quietly into their soups. In a firm voice he finally proclaimed, "When I am eating my lunch I do not want to sit next to a table of damn women talking about chintz curtains!"

As my Mr. Blandings felt my muscles flex to rise he put his hand on my knee and leaned in to say, "It's cold and they drove." We stayed. No one ordered dessert.

After seventeen years I better understand the roots of tradition and the minefields of dinner conversation. I am, however, still mystified that someone would not want to join in a conversation on chintz curtains as I find them irresistibly divine.

Images of Cecil Beaton's home, Reddish House, from Architectural Digest Celebrity Homes, 1977; photography by Beaton. The Aesthete posted on Reddish yesterday. I had already written this and should probably have pitched it. Sadly, I'm too lazy.

9 comments:

Al said...

What a great post! It made me laugh. Too bad about the dessert though.

Linda McMullan said...

I've loved Chintz since I was 5 years old and my Aunt Clara hung them in her tiny living room...felt like I was in a garden, then. That was in 1956. I have them in one of my guest bedrooms even now, in 2011, in Atlanta. And, I NEVER understood, even as a tiny little girl, why women were not "allowed" in certain places that men seemed to have a good time in. Things have slowly changed (without my involvement), but I think that was why I majored in sculpture-becoming an excellent welder with my own welding shop...right about the time I sewed those chintz curtains. Thanks for a wonderful post.

mary said...

I loved this post the first time around and even more today. Mr. Blandings is such a love!! Have a wonderful week with chintz curtains, blue and white porcelain and finely polished silver. Mary

kathi said...

Hi There
The vase in the second photo is a knock out.........I'm saving this image in my pottery inspiration file. I know what you're talking about "father in law" I had the same kind of relationship with mine..........difficult.
Kathi

Karena said...

This is a great story Patricia, I love it! As I am sure the family all loves you, in spite of your "modern ideas"!

xoxo
Karena

Art by Karena

Lee said...

Habit and attitudes are interesting to think about. I seldom hear the conversations of diners around me unless the conversation is extremely noisy or if my brain picks up a word that I find extremely interesting and want to hear more. I would pick up on chintz curtains and woul strain to hear the conversation, but my husband either wouldn't pick up on the term or would tune out the conversationl
I find it sad that the image of women is that chintz curtains is all they have to talk about. Exceptional women tend to find exceptional and worthwhile things to do with their time. Sadly, some exceptional women may have been professionally limited by gender discrimination in their chosen field of work and this discrimination could have been fueled by the attutude that women are only capable of thoughts of chintz curtains. I admire your restraint. Battling without a possible chance to bring change is only futile and frustrating.

Gail, in northern California said...

Tradition is wonderful and men should have some sort of escape, surely, but there's another side to these all-male bastions---women will always have a difficult time in some portions of the business world. Too many deals are made on golf courses and in private clubs.

Take the super-exclusive Bohemian Club in California.
The Club motto is "Weaving Spiders Come Not Here," which implies that outside concerns and business deals are to be left outside. Puleeze.

I'm DELIGHTED your focus has now shifted to the Blandings boys. I'm beginning to get an inkling of just how much wonderful writing I missed. Thank you.

pve design said...

I had lovely chintz curtains made, when we lived in the city.
At the time, I thought they cost a fortune and I carried them with me to our first home which is a mid-century modern so the curtains truly do not work. I thought of making a matching wardrobe a la "Sound of Music" and maybe you need to make Mr.Cranky a special suit out of those chintz drapes and deliver it with an after dinner treat.
I still have the curtains if you need any chintz.
pve

Anonymous said...

It probably wouldn't matter whether it be the curtains or the price of milk that 'certain' dispositions take exception to. When one side benefits from the work and dedication of the other, work in the home, work out of the home, it's best not to bite the hand that feeds you. Glad your Mr. Blandings is a peach, sounds like senior could use a little grace.