When Malcolm treats me roughly I usually am like, Stop. I command thee. I don’t know that he’s human. He was wearing the kangaroo suit this time. His tongue was green from eating popsicles. When he grabbed a hold of my foot at the ankle I thought to myself, desperately, Not again. I tried kicking. I hollered myself hoarse. Nothing worked. Unbelievably, I felt myself being dragged off the sofa and deposited on the floor, dragged across it, into the foyer and over the first Persian rug, of the family Oriental, renowned for its splendid colors and elaborate designs of typically a geometric, floral or pictorial persuasion. It wasn’t hard for me to believe the rug was originally hand-woven in China, now produced according to centuries-old tradition by artisans across Asia, Eurasia and parts of the Middle East, wherever labor costs are more than reasonable. What I couldn’t begin to accept was the distance I’d gone from the sofa. I kicked and screamed, cussing and sweating, grabbing futilely at this, the granddaddy of all décor, adding a sense of excellence to every residence, from the wealthiest manors and embassies to the humblest apartment dwellings, whose dark luxurious presence will not go unappreciated. Stop! I cried, feeling the thing beneath me, scorching my arms and back as I traveled over the floor. Even in my excitement I could sense its superb quality, its ability to hold up in high-traffic areas without significant erosion of its famous patterns, which actually look better as it ages. I felt it escaping me, was swept from it, suffered an interval of hard, cruel flooring before a second rug received me, another Oriental, of no doubt equal warmth and beauty, a grand centerpiece, what many people think of when they hear the word “rug.”
My shoe had fallen off. The room was a blur. Of sole comprehensibility, amid my scattered senses, was the touch of elegance and refined antiquity brought to the area by that beneath me, whose exquisite richly-dyed textures, medallions and exotic knots were less and less mistakable as my shirt rode up my trunk and finally leapt from me around a turn.
More corners, new corridors, new rugs, everything in front of me coming fast and leaping past, swallowed into the stuff behind me, some dense crowded point of my beginning.
O my God, I thought, vividly aware of the heat building under my back. I will start a fire.
I was considerably relieved to reach a contemporary-style rug. Perhaps here I was most at home. I could almost relax. I thought to myself, These are the hottest, hippest of all rugs. I savored the idea. You are done with the Orientals, I told myself. Say goodbye to timeless elegance and colonial charm. You are entering a world of shocking one-color solids and crazy close-knit stripes and mind-bending electric rectangles, repurposed modern art masterpieces, anything but boring.
The rug that takes chances. New. Loud. In your face. That lies there on your floor like someone’s hallucination.
Malcolm plunged on, surging, shoulders rolling, calves knotting, kangaroo tail swinging, out of his mind. There was no telling when he’d be calm. My vision telescoped and I observed him at the end of a long tunnel of blackness, through which I traveled at enormous speed over rugs that make a statement, whose daring, stylized layouts, surprising shapes and eye-popping colors will astound and mind-fuck your guests, leaving them violated and confused.
The focal point. The conversation starter.
Imagine a 1-foot mini rug. Now imagine that on your floor.
Let me go, Malcolm. Let go of my foot.
Transitional rugs, where “anything goes.” Something between classic Oriental and contemporary rubbish. Like a good-looking kid with sports skills, they fit right in. They can go anywhere. Put them in a barn. Put them on the bottom of your swimming pool. Throw one on top of your house. Roll one out in the driveway. Do whatever you fucking want. Fun yet stylish, often with floral or botanical motifs. I thought to myself, shuttled over them, crying a little, These are the go-anywhere rugs that complement any design plan or color scheme. They borrow a little from here and from there, combining old and new techniques to create a hodgepodge of elements loaded with charm and appeal. A real mixed bag.
Can you dig the effect? I asked myself, now on my stomach, now on my back, whooshing over the floor (a little afraid I might combust). Here the designer has made use of little-seen plants.
More transitional rugs came and went. Zen-inspired layouts, pseudo-Orientals, modernistic cherry blossoms. Unique, highly collectible rugs.
I was burnt all to pieces. Rug burn, the worst burn. That was a short commercial for rug burn. I tried catching at the rugs, dragging them, raking carpet fibers under my nails, dragged on and on by Malcolm in his rage.
I don’t even know what I did. You don’t just grab a person and barbarically drag him to the floor, over every imaginable form of rug.
Hardwood again, I’d know it anywhere. Clobbering, bruising. You damned floor, I thought. And abruptly as it came on, it left me, and I was waylaid by an extraordinary sense of relief, sunk in cottony cloudlike comfort, as if I’d died and gone to heaven.
The shag, I whispered, transported. I closed my eyes. Not only do its soft, thick fibers feel wonderful to the touch, but it insulates against cold and helps to absorb noise in a room with too many hard surfaces.
Ah, the shag, I murmured again. I turned my head and let its riffling feathers caress my cheek. Composed of long pile strands attached to a sturdy backing, the kind of wily, woolly floor adornment the beatnik poet warms his toes in. Owned by artists and musicians and independent thinkers, people with vision, now available in an endless selection of colors, from yummy lime and hot orange to natural brown and canary yellow. You can get one in grape-purple. If you can think of a color, they have it.
This one just felt amazing. Made of what – cotton? acrylic? polypropylene? nylon? I nuzzled, plowing through it. If Malcolm never saw cause to release me but went on dragging me to the edge of Creation, through fairylands and pumpkin patches, JCPenneys, I was almost too drowsy and contented to care. What are you? I whispered to this incredible rug, and I thought I heard it whisper back: A synthetic blend.
Malcolm! I cried. He’d turned my ankle awkwardly. Now my foot burned, a bursting pain shot into my foot, and my back and my elbows and so forth burned from so much contact with pieces of carpet.
Be still, I told myself. Trust that it will end.
Another shag, fluffy as a marshmallow. Bang your girlfriend on this one. Do your homework on this one. Eat a soft pretzel on this one. Plop one down in a sunny breakfast nook to draw in sunlight and spread the warmth. I had to pose the question: Am I passing through a sunny breakfast nook? I tried looking but all was disguised by the rate of our forward progression, as if covered in wrinkly cling wrap. Malcolm surged ahead, making haste for some imagined end of the tunnel. I had a vague impression of rooms and hallways speeding by, sucked behind me into the clutter, one after another.
Bear rugs, accent rugs, throw rugs.
No more rugs! I begged him. My injuries were extensive. The seat of my pants was balding, in places see-through, and my flaming body screamed.
Hooked rugs, antique rugs, Southwestern rugs.
Stop. I command thee.
He stopped. He did stop. After a while the room developed. There was an ironing board in it, and a little radio. Tile flooring. I was hurt, on several levels. Malcolm and I regarded one another nervously. There is never a lot to say.
Eventually the kangaroo suit came off.
He went and stood by a window and I went and stood by a window and we both looked at stuff outside.