When I was a young girl, my grandmother had a living room in which no one was actually allowed to live.
My brother's and I felt if we breathed near the room, the plastic on the chair might disintegrate.
Our very lives might also disintegrate if we stepped into it.
So, we risked our lives and held our breath when we walked by the room.
The only time I recall spending any amount of time in that room was a rare visit with my dad in which he played a Mad magazine record of Alfred E. Neuman's "It's a Gas".
It was a dream come true for my older brother and our dad, who shared a moment of pure 12-year-old laughter while listening to the record.
I didn't pay much attention to the symphony of flatulence. For, on that day, I was stunned that we survived. It's a precious memory of my dad and brother that I dearly hold.
I'm not sure if anyone outside of our family ever sat in that living room. Maybe they didn't live to tell about it. My grandmother was a Mississippi Southern Belle, but her stare could stop Medusa in her tracks.
When family visited, they usually sat in the informal living room. As a young girl, I knew style. The informal living room, with it's brown panel walls, plush carpet and orange and brown striped cushions, was my Panel Pad. It was the room with the color TV, where my grandmother rolled my hair, where we napped on recliners, and where we lived in pure bliss.
Time and families have changed. Children are no longer scared of anything. There are no formal living rooms, no paneled walls, no plush carpet, no orange and brown stripes. No Mad magazine paper records.
Our homes are cozy and cluttered. We are too busy for company. Too advanced for our own good.
The last time I let a friend in my house, she told me that I needed to clean my sink in the "powder room" because there was dried toothpaste in it.
I think she even cleaned it.
I'm only assuming this because when I remembered the toothpaste a few days later. It was gone.
Truth be told, I should probably invite her over more. She could do wonders on my stove.
Until then, I may get nostalgic and wrap some plastic around a chair.