David and I were newly installed in our first apartment in New York City, Jackson Heights Queens to be precise, for a mere 7 days. We had arrived with a U-Haul filled with pre-designed and prepared decor ( we were only 18 btw). We spent the first week of our lives in this … domicile? … painting and cleaning in order for the space to receive our predetermined decor concept.
It all looked pretty amazing. Our then roommates were impressed, if not a little scared and anxious as well, by our verve. But we sallied forth. They had never seen such commitment to decor from a fellow college room mate. They were about to be wowed.
By that 7th day together, quite honestly, we had already established an awed comradery with our roommates (they having already occupied our apartment 3 years prior to our arrival). We made impromptu dinners, shared really good belly laughs, and all in all entertained each other as much as we stood in amazement of each others’ citified sophistication (theirs), and small town simplicity (ours .. or more correctly mine. David was a force in any setting, as I was soon to learn,and learn, and … well, you get the idea).
And on that 7th night, David and I created some simple feast to toast to David’s first day of classes on the very next morning. We laughed and enjoyed, but then I had to speak seriously with our housemates about a serious problem. The naugahyde elephant in the room.
We had inherited a truly despicable looking kah kah brown naugahyde sofa. Tonight was the night that I asked if anyone had any special ties to this horrendously ugly piece of furniture. Believe it or not, it took a lot of guts for the 18 year old Paul to ask this question. For all I knew, it was some unfortunately designed family heirloom (the sort of thing of which I personally had plenty!) belonging to one of my new housemates, and I was grievously offending one or two of the only friends I had in this strange city. But the fates smiled on me this night, and a consensus was shared that the offending sofa was just that, and if I wanted it gone, then be done with it!
Glory, glory! David was happy for the vote, but then immediately troubled with the task. I assured him not to worry, just get on to school the next morning, and be fabulous. I’ll get this homefire burning.
And that I did. The next morning, I shuttled all of my new and old loved ones off to school, and then crouched before my sofa. Sized it up, and figured out a way to make it’s ugly ass disappear! Lucky for me, our building had an incinerator. In this instance, it meant that on every floor of the 10 story building I was living in had a small room wherein there was a trap door, like the typical garbage chute, but ours sent your refuse to the fiery pits of Middle Queens hell! I had never had any such thing as an incinerator in my life. A plan was coalescing in my brain.
I shuttled all of my new and old loved ones off to school, and then crouched before my sofa. Sized it up, and figured out a way to make its ugly ass disappear!
With a crazed look in my eye and a deranged determination, I dumped out my boyfriend’s bedside drawers, and found the final key to my redemption by way of a Swiss Army Knife! A saw blade 3” in length, handy minnie scissors, all I needed to slay my naugahyde dragon! And slay it I did. For 8 hours I sawed, clipped, banged, and tore that ugly beast to pieces, and fed it to our incinerator. It was a catharsis for all the suffering I had endured for 18 years living amongst the visual unpleasantness that had consumed my childhood home.
And so it came to pass that at seven pm on my 8th night in my first NYC apartment, all the flatmates returned home to very sophisticated jazz musings on the stereo and candlelit vignettes of impeccable, if not expensive, room views. None of which included the naugahyde dragon. It was sweet, because it took a bit for anyone to notice. David was the first, of course, but the most incredible realization for me was that without that ugly presence in our collective space, we all behaved more elegantly, innately. Suddenly we were hungry for better music, better fashion, better conversation, better EVERYTHING! It was a theory I always suspected would prove true, but this was my first real chance to test that theory.
And so my commitment to design was consummated. My first Ugly Dragon slayed! Let Beauty Prevail!