Ambience….

I was struck by an article in the paper today that told of helicopter moms hiring decorators for their son or daughter going off to college. In the age where everyone is screaming about their college loans are you kidding me? Once again we have proven that an annual rite of passage has to be gussied up and improved upon.

Forget about the fact that going to college has for time immemorial been about learning and trying to figure out things on your own like trying to get rid of that huge zit on your nose before your big date. I can just imagine telling my father that I almost flunked out of Georgetown my sophomore year because the atmosphere just wasn’t quite right. Or my room was not the right shade of mauve. The fear of God,my father and Vietnam got me back on the right track not Martha Stewart or whoever she was way back then.

Now ambience is defined as the feeling or mood associated with a place, person or thing. That is very cool. As I conjure up thoughts of this or that I definitely can get elated or depressed in one fell swoop. Abject terror was rappelling down a fifty foot cliff in survival school. Bliss can be achieved by viewing the Pacific from a Hawaiian island with a tall vodka and tonic in one’s hand…..or as a young parent knowing that the rug rats are finally asleep. But the funny thing is no one had to tell me how to do that.

Today is different. We need consultants and books for everything from dressing to eating to sleeping and the like. I am sure people look at me with my ten year old Brooks Brothers polo shirt or my faded khaki shorts and think how ghastly. At a party one time a fellow invitee subtly dropped the idea that he had owned a similar shirt to mine… ten years ago. Up yours, Mac. I am just breaking it in.

My daughter Megan is a decorator and wife Kathy is a closet one. They gather weekly to rearrange every piece of furniture in our humble one floor abode. If I was blind I would be dead from walking into things that were over there the week before. What do you mean you like that chair? We have to recover it or buy a new one. How else are we going to keep this economy humming ? You have no sense of fashion TTG. None.

Enter Feng Shui which is not pronounced anything like it shows. It actually translates into “wind water” which like anything that costs a lot of money makes no sense whatsoever. The goal is to harmonize everyone with your surrounding environment. I think this was dreamed up by some gay Chinese dude trying to increase his lot in life. If this is so cool why does pictures of the annual Chinese Party Congress look like a throwback to the old Apple 1984 Super Bowl ad?

They describe polarity as one creating exertion and the other receiving it. Yin and Yang. I thought that was invented by Cheech and Chong but what do I know? Actually it is more like Pelosi and Boehner or O’Reilly and Maddow. That’s not exactly a revolutionary thought but then again it might be in Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.

I was watching the Broncos preseason game in my office on my eight year old Vizio TV. This used to be our main mode of visual reception but it has been replaced by a bigger and jazzier version of a one year old Samsung in the living room. I have now been told that the incredible picture I am now getting is obsolete. I have to have a curved screen that will allow that 350 pound lineman to jump right into my space. Really? Pretty soon we will be able to have sweat smells wafting from the box. Special, huh?

We have a bunch of things that are drastic improvements over the old. I grew up in an old colonial house with seven people and three very small bathrooms. With three brothers it bordered on disgusting but we lived to tell about it. When Grandma Shorty came to stay and fell asleep on the john it became downright difficult. I would have loved to put one through the hoop in quiet meditation rather than having brother Brian beating down the door but that’s life. And many of you had only one salle de bain for the ship’s company. How did we ever survive?

Point being is that ambience is truly a feeling or mood. It can be Ralph Lauren or Coco Chanel or even better grassy field or a dock on the bay. It can be the staccato beat of Spanish Harlem or South Beach. Perhaps just sitting by the river with some wine and cheese. Who says the South Platte can’t be the river Seine? You can look out to the Rockies or the Poconos. Sheepshead Bay….or San Francisco Bay. It really doesn’t cost much. It’s what you make it and they are all just perfect on their own.

We are a consumer society. We crave new and different. Gotta keep up with the latest trend. It’s incredible when we see a home built in the 90’s and consider it dated. It was the cat’s meow back then. Whether it is cars or suits, place settings or coffee makers there is always something new and different around the corner. When that creates vibrancy and innovation it is refreshing. When it makes us slaves to Madison or Fifth Avenue it is sad. It blows me away how we are made to be beholding to fashion and fads all the while someone telling us how we are supposed to look. Really?

I am going to pick my spots and do my own thing. Surprising eh? Sure I am an old fart but hopefully not a codger. I hope my grandkids still think I am crazy but in a good sense. The best ambience of all is when I can sit here in Command Central and try to pound out thoughts that will get you to think. Nothing more. Nothing less. I don’t have to pay anyone to show me how that is done.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:
The National Retail Federation reports that we will spend $48 BILLION this year on electronics, furniture, bedding and supplies for our little darlings to feel at home while they are away.

IKEA was founded in the Netherlands in 1943. It now totals 350 stores in 43 countries. It has annual sales totaling more than $25 billion US. God knows how much you have to pay someone to put together the furniture once you buy it.

You can get a bottle of presentable red for $10, some cheese for $5 and a box of crackers for $3. The blanket comes from your house. Not a bad date for under $20 .

In the US we spend about 7% of our household budgets on food for about $50 billion. Russian families spend 38%. On the other hand we spend $225 billion on clothes per annum but a far cry from Europe who is leading the way at $350 billion. It costs to be trendy.

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