Marshall is not a fan of a lot of clutter. But he loves his wife Cheryl, and he admits he doesn’t know how to decorate very well. Since marriage is an institution built on compromise, he didn’t fight her when she begin attaching vinyl words to the house walls. They began simple and sweet, with a few inspirational quotes here and there. And, she claimed, they were removable, should they grow too tired of them.
Above the dining table, “Live, Love, Laugh” written in black Times New Roman didn’t bother him. A few common sense family rules posted on another wall weren’t terribly offensive, either.
But after his wife began filling up a new wall each year, and the house also filled with three children and their toys, Marshall began having nightmares that the alphabet was coming after him. Arial Narrow “C” tried to eat his nose. When he slept, his own “Z” ’s were stolen from the air, converted to Apple Chancery, and added to the message in the hallway to change it to “Sleep in peace, my dearZZZ.”
He admits, “I jumped out of bed after a particularly sweaty nightmare.” He found a credit card and began trying to remove the quote in the kids’ bathroom that read, “Flush, brush, wash.” “Removable, my ass,” he cursed. After applying heat with a hairdryer in hopes the vinyl might be more easily peeled, the quotes remained.
Cheryl says with bitterness, “Then he found the Sharpies.”
“I started on the kitchen wall,” Marshall says. To the end of the list of 18 “Family Rules” written in Chalkboard font on the kitchen wall, just below “count your blessing’s”, he’d scribbled neatly in purple, “Know Your Plural Nouns.”
Back in the nursery where his youngest son slept, he snuck in to add to “First we had each other, then we had you, now we have everything”: “except sleep and sanity. Those are gone FOREVER, aren’t they?”
Putting the Sharpie down temporarily, he yanked the Pottery Barn copper wall bin labeled “Bills” off the foyer wall, and relocated it under the living room quote, “The Best Things in Life are Free.” “The hammering caused a stir upstairs,” he admits. “I knew I had to act faster.”
Under the laundry room quote “Everything comes out in the wash” he added, “But your crayons in the dryer cause Mommy to melt down and call me home early from my golf”.
Over the main doorway, “You are confined only by the walls you build yourself” was not complete without “I am confined by many, many, many things, most of which I did not build”.
Cheryl was awakened by a headache. “Those strong Sharpie VOC’s….”
“I heard her head to the master bathroom, and I ran upstairs like a maniacal Peter Pan, jumped on the bed, and changed the saying above where we sleep.” Under “Always kiss me goodnight”, Marshall’s handwriting scribbled, “BUT A LITTLE MORE ACTION WOULD BE GREAT TOO”.
Cheryl says through tears of disgust, “In the powder room, I’d been working on the latest saying, ‘Keep Calm and….’ It wasn’t done yet.”
Marshall sighs and looks at his feet as he admits, “I added ‘REDRUM’ to that. I couldn’t help it. I just meant to be funny.”
Cheryl has now locked up the Sharpies, but admits that maybe the vinyl words had gotten a little out of hand. She’s in the process of removing them. “Some are stubborn and will just have to stay. That’s why I’m looking through those 20 wallpaper books stacked in the corner by the TV. I’m finding some really cute patterns—some look like old newspaper headlines, all sorts, just collaged together. I also like the one that is like a giant word search puzzle.”
She says she is considering Marshall’s request to hang one white board so he can express himself as well.