carpeting and other nasty American habits
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 21, 2008
As anyone who has lived in New York long enough to rent an apartment will tell you, New York apartments have at least one fundamental thing in common: their wood flooring. Wooden plank floors are the signature of all pre-war (WWI) apartments, and are installed in many more recent apartments as well.
For me, wooden floors are a normal sign of New York homes – just like concrete, granite, or marble floors are a normal sign of Arab world homes. So back in August when we were apartment-hunting I was un-surprised that every apartment we saw had wood floors.
What did surprise me was H’s delight.
I can’t believe all these apartments have wooden floors! he said happily.
At first, I thought that this was a Lebanese reaction to wood. There are trees in Lebanon, but they are few enough that most “wood” flooring is actually synthetic – even in very nice homes.
But H grew up in the United States, so wood is less of a novelty for him. What really delighted him about the wooden flooring was what it was not: carpeting.
Carpeting is a big thing in the United States. Wall-to-wall carpeting is standard in most houses, and carpeting is a big industry.
Nubby carpeting that invites tired feet to sink into and relax:
Textured carpeting that says “warmth” but also “professional home office”:
Hotel carpeting – plush and patterned – communicates luxury to guests:
But to H – and I’m guessing to anyone who grows up with washable floors – carpeting does not say “luxurious”. It says: “gross”.
Just think of all the stuff that settles into it, he said, making a face. Dust, dirt, food, animal hair – and it just stays there forever.
That’s why people vacuum, I said. But vacuuming doesn’t cut it in his mind: only a good scrubbing with mop and disinfectant soap counts as floor-cleaning – something best done at least once a day.
Well. H certainly lives a cleaner life than I do – or at least he did in Lebanon. Our wooden floors get swept regularly, but please banish from your minds any vision of me coming home from work each night and slinging a mop around :).