Smell the Coffee: Letting toys be toys and home feel like home

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There was a connection between the two things I didn’t recognize on my own.

The first part occurred on our way home from church, when we stopped by an indoor “Geek Flea Market” a few miles from our house. True to its name, the room was filled to the brim with the stuff most nerds dream of: costumes for cosplay, books, movies and comics — and hundreds — if not thousands — of toys. Nearly all still tightly sealed in original packaging, just like the day they left the factory.

As we weaved our way down the crowded rows, I pictured the homes of the sellers — attics and closets filled to the brim with “Star Wars” toys and action figures. Even though I’m a nerd through and through, buying toys with the sole purpose of storing them for decades before selling them to someone else ... that isn’t my thing.

I understand it’s an investment, but something about it struck me as wrongheaded, although I couldn’t say why.

Later that day, I experienced the second part of what became a connection. I had gone online to instant message with a friend. She asked about our kitchen renovation, which wasn’t so much a planned renovation as forced, since the floor under the leaking refrigerator needed to be replaced.

Replacing the floor led to repainting our old cabinets, which led to replacing old trim and installing a few under-cabinet lights.

“Please tell me you’re at least getting new counters,” she wrote.

“We are.”

“Yay!” she wrote. “Corian, marble or slate?”

“Laminate,” I said.

I could sense her disapproval based on excessive punctuation: “WHY?????!!!!!!!”

“It’s a mid-century house filled with mid-century things,” I wrote. “Laminate is appropriate to the time period.”

“Two words,” she said. “One is ‘resale.’ The other is ‘value.’”

“We aren’t planning on selling,” I said.

“Obviously not,” she said. “But you still need to be smart and think about the people, down the road, who will be buying it next. Do you really think they’re going to want laminate? No one does.”

“WE do,” I said. “The people who live in the house now do. Us. That’s what we want.”

I spent the next several minutes attempting to show her our side, explaining how we planned to spend the rest of our lives in this quirky little house that we both love so much, but she wouldn’t budge.

The conversation troubled me, left me feeling foolish for my earlier excitement over the laminate counters I’d found with a fun little boomerang pattern. If my friend found those counters to be so repellent, what might others think?

I mentioned my concern to Don. He was quiet for a moment, as he made the connection.

“It’s just like those toys,” he said.

“At the geek sale?” I asked, and he nodded.

“Toys are meant to be played with, not stored,” he said. “But they buy them and take them home and stash them away and never enjoy them at all, just to make sure they have the most value for someone else to enjoy down the road, some total stranger. Where’s the fun in that?

“It’s the same with our house. We can paint it beige inside and out to keep it generic. We can buy what’s on trend for the kitchen and baths, and a few years down the road, update it again. Maybe a time or two after that. But not once in there would it be our taste. Only what we’re anticipating someone else, some total stranger, might fancy.”

“Like living in a hotel room,” I said.

His connection made so much sense. Everything isn’t all about the money. It’s about letting toys be toys, and home feel like home.

And that home reflecting who we are.

Even if it’s a couple of toy-opening, laminate-loving nerds.

Karin Fuller can be reached at

Funerals for Thursday, July 2, 2020

Adkins, Anne - 6 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Morton, Freda - 11 a.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Nunn, Terry - 7 p.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Olive, Rex - 2 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Reynolds, George - 2 p.m., Dodd & Reed Funeral Home, Webster Springs.

Rhodes, Ella - 4 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

Rose, Carol - 10 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Waldron, Helen - 1 p.m., Forks of Coal Cemetery, Alum Creek.

Wibberg, David - 11 a.m., St. Anthony Catholic Church, Charleston.