By Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman
My sister has this funny habit of mailing random things to me. It’s typically unexpected and always hilarious. Items over the years have included old pictures, clippings from magazines or newspapers, and funny items from past vacations. Usually she attaches a Post-it Note and some snarky remark.
This week I opened an envelope that contained a single black-and-white photo. It was a picture of my mom—an adorable (already-married!) 21-year-old, offering a treat to her begging dog. I had never seen the picture, and of course, the Post-it Note said something about teaching an old dog a new trick.
I looked at it a few times during the day, and it wasn’t until the third or fourth time that something caught my eye.
In the background were the couches from my grandmother’s house, where the photo was taken. Oh, how I remember those couches—well, not the actual couches. But I remember one thing about those couches—thick, clear plastic.
Plastic Sofa Protectors
More specifically, I remember the sound that was made on a warm day as I got up from the couch. Who could forget the noise of skin peeling away from plastic. Ick. Why were the couches covered in plastic? Was she so worried we would spill things on the couch? More frightening to me—did she think it looked good? Was it the trend?
I needed to go straight to the source—Google. So I started typing: Why Grandma had… I didn’t need to type further.
Why grandma had plastic covers on her furniture
Grandma’s plastic covered couch
And then, should I decide I needed to keep the tradition:
How to put plastic on furniture (with a YouTube link)
It got me thinking about this entire idea of protecting things, and why we choose to protect the things we do.
What Will We Protect?
This was the generation that allowed their kids free rein: playing outside (yep, that’s where you walk through a door and explore things outside your house) until dark, riding bikes to the corner store, walking to the playground with the giant metal slide (think thigh burn, sharp corners, tetanus shot), and donning metal roller skates equipped with a metal key so you could lock them to your shoes. Good thing we’re protecting the couch, ’cause that could be totally dangerous.
At the same time, back in the ‘50s, parents actually had the time to sit down, versus now when we are driving our kids around from activity to activity.
Why would I need a couch protector? I hardly sit on the thing. If anything, I should be putting plastic on my car seat, phone, laptop, and key ring. My couch would be the last thing I would protect.
Maybe this funny disconnect is what it always looks like from generation to generation. I look forward to my future granddaughter sending a picture of me in my pink ski helmet and goggles to one of her siblings for a good laugh, as they experiment with augmented reality and time travel. I just hope the seats have good protection.
Stephanie Silverman is the publisher of Your Teen.