Toronto
3 min

Home Depot changed my life

Truth be told, I haven't decided whether or not interior decorating is a soothing, curative act or just a way to sidestep more pressing personal issues

Caught up as I am in making things pretty, there does exist the very real threat of simply turning stupid. Credit: Xtra Files

Birth. Christmas 1998. The death of my sister. The day I met my boyfriend. My first play, professionally produced. My first gangbang. The first time I heard Kate Bush sing. The death of my mother. The only time my father said he loved me. The fabulous blueberry tile we just put up in the bathroom! The torrid leopard print wallpaper we just found at Home Depot! Our brand new cupboards!



Those are the most revelatory moments of my life thus far.



Yes, I am turning into the kind of gay man I promised myself I would never, ever turn into, even at gunpoint, even tied to two opposing freight trains, even in bed with Brian Gluckstein.



What about all those years I spent in filthy, rat and roach-infested basement apartments and abandoned mausoleums all over the city? Those defiant, unfettered years when my only concerns were clarity and integrity, when I didn’t care about window treatments because I didn’t have any windows?



Was it all a fraudulent song and dance? I used to cluck my tongue at tricks who had beds off the floor and clean sheets. “Oooh, bed sheets that aren’t stained with blood and shit, who do we think we are?” I used to say to said tricks.



But now! I write this in a monogrammed journal, atop a four-poster oak bed, surrounded by cherished shams and pillows, my pretty little feet dangling maribou flip-flops over the edge.



“Clarity.” “Integrity.” Isn’t it cute, the way Ikea gives all its products imaginary Swedish names?



Truth be told, I haven’t decided whether or not interior decorating is a soothing, curative act or just a way to sidestep more pressing personal issues. In the past, confounded by impossible questions, such as “Why does a sexy genius like Derek Jarman have to die of AIDS while Jerry Falwell just keeps on truckin’?” I would hurl myself to the pavement and smash my head against parking meters.



These days I’m more likely to paint a fun mural on the kitchen wall of a very vital and healthy Derek Jarman frying up a very tender and juicy Jerry Falwell on a really big Hibatchi. Progress or recess?



My beloved life mate, Rob, has had a hand – a lovely Royal Dalton objet of a hand – in my transition from frayed, arrogant guttersnipe to house-proud matron. We both come from broken homes. Literally. Drunken fathers would go crashing through fancy glass coffee tables. Erratic mothers would put up pretty, floral wallpaper in the dining room, and then mindlessly keep on wallpapering toilet seats, houseplants, and family pets.



Family pets, crazed from emotional neglect and wallpaper glue, would eat their way through weight-bearing walls.



Now, whenever Rob and I hang a new picture on the wall, we are, in our own way, redressing the chaos of our childhoods. We each place a hand on the hammer and, ever so gently, tap-tap-tap the nail into place. This can sometimes take upwards of three to five hours, but the loud pound of hammer on nail is unnerving to us, given our chaotic childhoods. We startle easily. What was that!? Oh. It was just one of my maribou flip-flops falling to the floor. Things are good.



Still, despite the redemptive qualities of artful homemaking, I do feel I have reason for concern. I could very easily lapse into ruthless, cloistered consumerism, like the shellacked fag I had the misfortune of interacting with on Queen St last week.



A frail bag lady collapsed next to me as I was waiting for the bus. I ran down the street until I found someone – the shellacked fag – with a cellphone.



“Help! Help!” I implored. “A bag lady has collapsed!”



He looked me up and down. “What kind of bag was it?” he asked breezily, then threw his head back in sinister laughter before disappearing inside of Caban.



Caught up as I am in making things pretty, there does exist the very real threat of simply turning stupid, forsaking my cultural studies, forgetting how to read quickly, forgetting how to write good.



For instance, I really didn’t care at all about the terrible events in the middle east until I heard about Kashmir, and the plight of Afghans. Then I became outraged. Why are waging this awful war on fine fabrics and nice blankets? I want answers!



Unquestionably, we all deserve a warm and pleasant place to live. Creative homemaking can be a sweet, self-effacing attempt at permanence, much like being frozen cryogenetically or having a miracle baby at age 96.



But it’s also a dupe, a grift, a siren song! Sometimes a slipcover is not just a slipcover – sometimes it’s an invitation to madness and spiritual death. Have you ever seen an unretouched, close-up photo of Martha Stewart? Her eyes are really old suit-jacket buttons, her nose fashioned from a pencil sharpener. False idol! Straw-stuffed harbinger of hell on earth! Martha Stewart can make lots of things out of motley scraps, but did you ever stop to wonder who made Martha Stewart out of motley scraps? Here’s a hint: It was Hitler!



Enough! I’m going to get up off my fey keester, off my exquisite four-poster bed and take a blowtorch to the new cupboards, a mallet to the blueberry tile. And then I’m going to sit in the rubble and read a life-changing book by Krishnamurti, and I’m going to read that life-changing book by Krishnamurti very, very, very quickly, absorbing everything.



Right after I sew these doilies to my cheeks.