Today I heard news that would’ve made Mother Mary sad.
Karastan is going out of business.
Do you even know what I’m talking about?
Karastan is a rug.
That doesn’t even begin to approach its meaning in the Scottoline household.
All Mother Mary wanted was a Karastan.
When I was growing up, I heard her use the word Karastan with such reverence that I thought it was the Emerald City.
Karastan meant all-wool quality, which we couldn’t afford.
But it was nice to have an aspiration, even if it was a rug.
The New York Times said that Karastan was “a relic of America’s shrinking middle class.”
Which I guess means that we were lower than middle class.
But, whatever, the food was great.
To me, if you have homemade spaghetti every Sunday, that is the very definition of class.
In any event, we were slacking in the rug department.
Looking back now, I remember that we got remnants instead of rugs.
I didn’t even realize remnant meant leftover until yesterday.
I just thought we had really small rugs.
My mother called them “area rugs.”
The area was 2′ x 2′.
Actually they were more stepping-stones than rugs.
Like you could play hopscotch down our hallway.
For the wannabe middle class.
Plus they came in a lot of colors and patterns.
Just not the same color and pattern.
Why be conventional?
The funny thing was that growing up, I wanted the kind of rugs I saw in my friends’ houses, and they weren’t Karastans. Because those were the days of wall-to-wall carpeting.
Even the phrase “wall-to-wall carpeting” sounds great.
The carpeting went from one wall all the way to the other.
Nothing is left bare, or worse, to hardwood.
Nobody missed a spot.
Like, it was flush.
I mean, that’s a high-class carpet.
Even now at the end of a busy day, if I’ve had a lot of phone calls or meetings, I think to myself, “Wow, that day was wall-to-wall!”
Come to think of it, I guess wall-to-wall is the opposite of remnants.
Like we probably got the remnants from other people’s wall-to-wall carpets.
Whatever, I turned out OK.
And we got our furniture used, from ads in the newspaper.
My mother would read the classifieds and circle one or two, and I remember the day she was excited about getting a new/used couch of yellow velour.
Yes, yellow velour.
We went to see it, and I thought the sun threw up.
But we brought it home, and she was so happy.
It looked great with three of the area rugs.
And terrible with four of them.
Another upside to remnants. You’re not confined by one color.
Or even 40.
Who wants to be matchy-matchy?
The other kinds of rugs in my friends’ houses were shag carpets.
Laugh all you want, it was awesome.
I bet every kid in the world loved shag carpeting.
I remember one of my friends had lime green shag carpets and we used to make rug angels.
It wasn’t a carpet, it was a toy!
But I always wanted a Karastan, and there did come a day when I could afford one.
So I marched right into the store, and bought one.
Afterward, the first thing I did was call my mother.
And she gasped.
Her daughter had made it.
I still have my Karastan.
But I don’t have my mom.
And what I love about the rug isn’t that it’s pretty, or that I can afford it, but how happy it made her.
And that never goes out of business.
Look for Lisa’s best-selling historical novel, “Eternal,” in stores now. Also look for Francesca’s critically acclaimed debut novel, “Ghosts of Harvard,” on sale now.