August 4, 2004
Dear Mom and Dad,
Today Nancy wanted to move rugs and furniture. At some point in our furniture rearrangement effort, I began to think to myself that we needed to include the variable of our friends’ bad hearing into the furniture placement jigsaw. Martha’s good ear is her left ear, Diane and Mary Holbart have hearing aides in each ear, several other friends have one hearing aide, and most of us have diminished hearing from not listening to our parents who were always commanding us to, “turn that (damn rock and roll) music down.”
The more I thought about our friends’ hearing losses, the more I worried about the placement of each piece of furniture. This one troubling thought produced another and then another troubling furniture placement thought.
I soon realized the bad hearing issue is compounded by today’s decoratoring fascination with large furniture. The big oversized chairs that require a winch to get you up, overstuffed and potentially suffocating couches, and coffee tables so large that they may double as sushi dining tables. These oversized furniture ensembles increased the distance between one furniture with person (in/on them) to another furniture with person. The large furniture primary decorating challenge is how to position this monster furniture without losing the desired outcome of creating a room with a close, inter-personal, human, warmth. The secondary challenge is eliminating the likelihood of not hearing what a friend is saying to you due to the increased spacing requirement that large furniture demands.
The bad hearing concern is further complicated by the big volume room issue we must deal with due to our home’s 12-foot high ceilings. Having read many decorating magazines I know if we paint our ceilings a darker color this will psychologically bring the ceilings down. This “down” ceiling, which we paid extra to have “up”, creates that ever-important feeling of intimacy.
(Dad, we guys all know that to keep our significant other we must have feelings and these feelings must be of warmth and intimacy. I am sure Mom has told you this many times! Why you and a room must have warmth and intimacy I will let someone else write and explain.)
Question: If a dark paint color brings the ceiling down does it also psychologically improve a person’s bad hearing because they subconsciously think the room is smaller in volume and therefore the same spoken word has less space to be heard in?
Then it dawned on me that because of our wood floors we also have the well-known hard surface, bouncing, echo chamber, hearing issue to contend with. This last issue almost froze me in a mode of inaction. Thank god Nancy was not thinking along the same lines as me. She just kept pointing and we would move another large furniture piece to the anointed or in many cases the previous anointed spot.
This subset of furniture placement variables due to people’s hearing loss when contemplated within the larger set of decorating variables of style, color, texture, feel, size, etc was truly deafening to my senses – and this deafening all started because I acknowledged our friends’ loss of hearing.
I may have been over thinking the problem of furniture placement or maybe I just didn’t want to move furniture today. I do know that I didn’t voice our friends’ bad hearing issue to Nancy who had already remarked on my poor attitude without me saying a word.
Nancy and Tom