Editor's note: This column originally was published on Jan. 7, 1998.
Ladies, there are certain rules for a peaceful marriage.
First, realize that while your man loves you, it's best not to stand in front of the television during the professional wrestling program known as "Monday Nitro."
Second, take control of the checkbook and never let go. Otherwise, you'll have delivery men showing up at the door asking, "Where do we put this big-screen television?"
And third, give your man a room in the house to call his own. One where you don't have a voice in decorating. One where he feels free to hang all the crap you wouldn't want in the rest of your home.
See, most women aren't prone to stuffing fish and various mammals and then displaying them on the wall, but men will stuff anything. Consider that Trigger is sitting in a museum somewhere. Consider what may happen to you if you fall terminally ill.
Maybe it's a testosterone thing.
Thus, it's best that The Other Half have total control over decorating our office/guest room. I'm sitting in it right now, surrounded by sports team pennants, Mizzou memorabilia and three "Rolling Stone" covers featuring Beavis and Butthead. The most notable cover has that fictional duo sitting on Pamela Lee's lap and staring at another fictional duo: The Silicone Twins.
It became clear early on that The Other Half was going to have his own room. It was the best way to keep him from decorating the entire house in model stock cars and checkered flags -- his other great passion besides Beavis, Butthead and Pamela Lee.
Mr. Half had a little participation in our living room decor -- he was standing next to me when I picked out our new couch last February. Boy, did we get taken for a ride on that one. We went to a furniture store we'll call "Sucker's Warehouse" and picked out a sofa. We dickered with the saleslady at length, and she finally said, "OK, OK. I'll throw in the Stain-Off (names have been changed to prevent lawsuits) warranty."
Apparently, her idea of "throwing in" had nothing to do with giving it to us for free. There was a charge for it in the fine print on our contract, but I didn't notice it until I dumped a plateful of spaghetti with marinara sauce on the couch two months ago. We scrubbed and scrubbed with no luck and finally just turned the cushion over. About a month later, I decided to do something about it, pulled out the old invoice and called the Stain-Off Hotline.
"Yeah, uh, we need to use our Stain-Off warranty," I said. "Our saleslady said someone would come out and clean our couch."
"Well, the warranty is only valid if you call within five days of staining the couch," the hotline lady said.
"Ummmm," I said, stalling while I finished the moral debate in my head. Call me a liar, but that saleslady wasn't exactly George Washington when she bilked me out of a hard-earned $60 for a treatment she indicated would be free. "Yeah. It's been like five days or something."
"OK," she said. "We'll mail you our shampoo."
Yes, you read right. Under the Stain-Off warranty, the only way a professional comes to clean your couch at Sucker's Warehouse's expense is if you can't get the stain off with their three-ounce bottle of miraculous shampoo. If you succeed in getting it off, you end up with a nice, big clean spot on your otherwise dingy couch.
Not that Mr. Half wasn't supportive in my time of distress. "Shoulda let me pick out the couch. I was going to get a black vinyl one."
Black vinyl ... hmmm, maybe I SHOULD leave the decorating to him. Yeah, right.
Heidi Hall is managing editor of the Southeast Missourian.