There are a few things that exist as faded memories of childhood. Plastic furniture covers are one of them.
Whatever happened to them?
In the distant annals of my mind, I seem to recall this strange phenomenon of furniture – couches, chairs and the whole kit and kaboodle – covered with plastic. It was a popular pursuit when I was a kid and all the rage. Why is anyone’s guess; perhaps couches, chairs and other items got dirtier back then. Who knows.
The strange thing is that this memory has been suppressed for many years and has only come back recently due to the ridiculously warm weather that we’ve been having. What piqued the memory of plastic on skin? It may have been the numerous days of sweltering heat that found many of us peeling our sticky legs off of lawn furniture, plastic chairs and the like. After almost melting into the patio furniture, my mind drifted back to the days when visiting someone’s home often meant being shepherded past the immaculately clean living and dining room, with plastic-wrapped furniture in tact and, in some cases the whole sterile scene roped off (I’m not kidding). I guess people aspired to have clean furniture much more often back then.
The irony is not lost on me or you if you’re a regular reader of this page, as a tidy and generally ordered abode is a foreign thought around my place. My thousands of kids make sure that the status quo remains. That being said, one has to wonder about the reason behind what was once a popular solution to the inevitable stains of youth. For whatever the answer, many people felt that furniture was to be seen and not held, especially not with grubby fingers, and so the trend caught on.
As a child, I used to revel in what appeared to be a pristine and literally untouchable setting that resided in many a living room that I visited. Part of me was jealous; jealous that I too was not able to boast a formal sitting area (in name only) that was covered in plastic. Jealous that my home did not have areas that were so museum-like in appearance that they needed to be roped off.
Alas, this once-common way of preserving the “just bought” quality of couches and chairs seems to have gone by the wayside, as families embrace their children’s inherent need to “spread the love,” grubby fingers and all.
On a more serious note, does the decline in plastic furniture covers signify the fact that parents have finally accepted that kids get dirty and, by extension, dirty up most things they touch? Have we finally “loosened up” somewhat, at least enough to let our kids frolic on the couch with nary a thought to the mess that they may leave in their wake? Are we a generally more permissive group of parents than our predecessors, or is this just the case in some family circles? In other words, perhaps the plastic on furniture directive has not gone by the wayside, but rather, just migrated to a smaller and more elite crowd. Who knows?
I, for one, have taken the tact of not bothering to invest in “nice” furniture. What’s the point, really? I have two three-year-old boys. That should say it all. My second strategy? A leather couch. Wipe clean and go. Still, a part of me still yearns for the pristine, crisp and clean look of new furniture. Maybe we’re hard-wired that way.