I don't mind every trickle-down effect from our years under the reign of Martha A.P. and P.P. (Ante-Poncho/Post-Poncho)--well, there is the expanding effect on low-end antique prices. And the way she's made a color of green I used to love a cliche (albeit easier to find). And the proliferation of the phrase "this _______ [doily, vase, expenditure, attempt at excess] is what makes a house a home" (sad, Martha; wrong, Martha). Ehhh...maybe I do mind most Martha-effex, but anyhow:
The one effect of MStewartization on American homekeeping--at least the visual image thereof, which in Marthaspeak is the same thing--that I really can't forgive is her effect on American NIGHTSTANDS. It's actually nightstands and desks, but mostly nightstands. Most of the time I rather enjoy Martha's wretched excess, her pained pursuit of perfection, because it's such a pretty world to look into. I used to say it was like my version of shooting smack, only how would I know, but still--pritty pritty. No dust, no fingerprints, no disorganization. Delish and tingly. Her nightstands, however, push me over the edge. They are big lies.
She's perfected this world wherein the nightstand--whatever the context--is a smooth, water-ring and -droplet-free environment that generally houses only the following: a lone clock; a lone bloom in a glass; a lone lamp; a few carefully arranged books; reading glasses just taken off. That's it. The nightstands in her magazines and catalogs are worlds of stylist-ed perfection, with not one untoward item in sight.
That is to say: no kleenex, no water glasses dripping condensation rings despite your best effects or eventually knocked over by your cats, no DUST, no sex toys, no cold medicine, no piles of exasperating papers, no hairbrushes or tweezers or Vapo-Rub or scribbled phone numbers or vitamins or retainers or phones or mouthguards or lube or embarrassing photos or ankle braces or clothes or piles of ear plugs or lotion. I personally have almost everything I ever use that's not in the shower on my nightstand, including perfume and medicine (where else am I going to use it?).
Whoever is parked in MStew's beds is there only momentarily, long enough to slightly rumple the (ironed, stain-free) sheets, just like Martha and her four hours of sleep a night (I bet her jail partner in WVa loved that). (And where do the pillows go....WHERE DO THE PIILLOWS GO? the bleat of modern life--all those shams.) Nobody needs, lingers, sleeps too much. Nobody's there long enough to park piles of shit next to the bed. There are never any logos or brand names, bespeaking a need for analgesics or the paraphernalia of menstruation. In MStew-Land there are often not even drawers to hide that stuff in--the nightstands are that spare. No stuffed drawers below, no piles of things to do, just...one ferociously tweezed domestic landscape.
And the point is that this has spread everywhere: in the deluge of furniture catalogs I can't stop there is always--in addition to this frightening embrace of espresso wood stains and fabric-covered frames masquerading as wall art that make me think I'm in a SCAN Furniture store in suburban DC, c. 1975 (PLUS CA FREAKING CHANGE, is the point)--one of these Martha Nightstands. A beautifully fingerprint-free carafe of fresh water, one lily, the ubiquitous Braun alarm clock. One book, one pair of spectacles, one lamp. One gun, one condom, one passport. Hah! No. But try it: open West Elm or CB2 or Chiasso...
The problem I have with her desks is similar: no paper. Not even 1/2 a day's onslaught of junkmail, which indicates that somebody must be waiting under the mail slot of the door to catch the mail before it hits the ground, then run it piping hot out to the trash where they shred and dump, then bring only the very most relevant mail inside and immediately file everything but the one postcard with pretty lettering on the front that they tuck into the paper sorter on the wall for visual interest before fluffing their cup of identical pencils. I keep looking for evidence of humanity, for evidence of a phenom I find completely unmanageable within the space of two days in my own home, and it's just...Hoovered out of sight. Where is Martha...or the spectral She who occupies these spaces...while she tears up credit card offers? Delays opening uncomfortable letters from relatives? Keeps catalogs she never quite orders from? Has sex? Drools in the pillow?