My daughter thinks I’m ‘mid-century’ but I’m not a piece of furniture

There are certain markers to older age – the invisibility that comes when your hair turns grey and you get ignored in the queue; when you no longer get a wolf whistle as you shuffle past a construction site and the rolling of the eyes of both your adult children, and then even the grandchildren, as you yet again tell a family story, ad nauseam.

I suffer in silence at these indignities, but the final straw came the other day when the term ‘mid-century’ was used to describe some furniture, furniture that I had grown up with. Now I don’t know about you, but when I hear the term mid-century I think of past civilizations, French revolutions, sea battles with sailing ships and cannon fire, anything that I have read about in history books.

Not my childhood. 

But there it was as plain as day when my daughter went gaga over some old Danish furniture and then raved about how wonderfully mid-century it was. She was collecting pieces and trawling old warehouses, trying to find just the right piece for her apartment. And evidently lots of other people have too.

I thought I had misheard and then I shuddered as I did the maths. Yep, my childhood, life and personal taste is now part of history, relegated to either old-fashioned or amazingly funky, depending on how much I like the furniture I grew up with or how much I hated it.

For me, there are some pieces I never wish to see again. We had a Laminex kitchen table, awash with red gashes and flecks and edged in chrome, with little rivets all the way around the edge, no doubt holding said chrome to the table. I hated it and still do, a strong visceral reaction comes to the fore, reminding me of long agonising dinners spent pushing the food around on my plate, especially the Brussel sprouts. (And don’t tell me they are wonderful cooked with bacon or roasted in the oven.) My sister and I had terrible fights at that table and it doesn’t bring happy memories for me.

However, I do concede that some of the furniture of the fifties and sixties was joyful. The Danish teak sideboards come to mind as do some of the innovative curved chairs and footstools that looked wonderful to lounge in. Then there were teak nesting tables, adorning many a suburban lounge room, and Hans Wegner pieces – the wishbone chair comes to mind – if you were really lucky. 

Now, if you have managed to hold onto any of these pieces or had them handed down to you, they are worth a small fortune. Perhaps the young have now moved away from the quick, cheap offerings of IKEA, or perhaps they just got sick of trying to assemble that furniture and learning how to be agile and handy with an allen key. Many a fight has no doubt ensued with modern-day flat pack furniture.

Or maybe it is just the fashion trends that come and go. Most of us don’t want the stuff of our parents’ present taste and so to move back in time to find gems is both expected and realistic. 

I am just mortally offended to be mid-century. I’d rather be mid-life than part of a “back in the day “ history lesson. Delusional probably.

How would you feel being described as ‘mid-century’? What descriptors do your children use that make you feel unnecessarily old? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: What our grandparents can teach today’s baby boomers

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