Growing up, there was a childless couple who lived next door whose names were Fred and Maxine. It’s funny, I can remember so clearly what their dog looked like (a German shorthair retriever who was a hunting dog, not a pet) but only have the vaguest recollection of what Maxine looked like (thin, elegant, older than my mom) and no real recollection of what Fred looked like.
They were responsible for my initial decision to not have kids. I said to my mom, “Why do Fred and Maxine have –?” and my mother said, probably a bit tired after a day of dealing with my sister and I, “Because they don’t have kids. They can afford to buy / do that because they don’t have to pay for kids.” I think I was seven or so then. I remember thinking, huh, I’d rather have –, think I won’t have kids.
Anyhow, for some reason, I was thinking about their living room this morning. We’d go over there ever so often so Mom could play bridge (and I think pinocle sometimes?). The kids would be shunted off to the family room, which was on the other side of the entrance and down the stairs. We’d often get pretty bored down there – there wasn’t a TV, and no kids stuff other than what we brought with us, and the kids didn’t all get along particularly well. I’d sneak up into the living room because Maxine would always put out Spanish cocktail peanuts.
Their living room, though, was really beautifully designed, and I wish I had a picture of it today. It was done in champagne browns and golds, and that fifties metalic grass green. All the furniture was mid century modern (in my memory, it’s teak, but I LOVE teak so I am probably making that up) and I can almost remember the paintings on the walls. It was elegant and timeless. I’ve looked through my Mom’s photo albums and there don’t seem to be many pictures from that time (makes sense, my dad would have just died, and I can’t imagine my mom wanted to document that much, and why would you take picture of your neighbor’s living room?).
Funny how much of this stuff stays with you.