Adventures in a Clown Car

by Meghan Medford in


Is it normal to cry over beautiful furniture? Because I definitely teared up once and fought back the sniffles twice this past week looking at some pretty awesome mid-century antiques. It’s times like these when I seriously question my decision to transfer out of an interior design degree. People that cry over 1960’s dining room chairs are a rare beed, I think. 

It’s been a rough week. 

I crashed my Jetta into a tractor trailer tire on a highway in south Texas. I am still sticking to my story that it jumped out in front of me like a wild animal (for my pride’s sake of course) but it was a little harder convincing my boyfriend and the insurance company of those chain of events. And to be honest, that’s really a lose-lose situation either way: pay a higher premium because you had an accident or your significant other never letting you live down the time he had to come tow you from a Walgreen’s parking lot on a Friday night. 

But I digress.

I got my Jetta right in the body shop and they swapped my damaged sedan in exchange for the ugliest car I have ever had the pleasure of driving. It’s called a Nissan Vise Versa, or something. Whatever. I don’t know what kind of person designs a car like this, but they must have some sick sense of humor. It literally looks like fifteen clowns should pop out of it at any point in time - something that several people have not failed to mention whenever I show them the hatchback’s-disfigured-cousin of a car that I am currently driving. The whole body of the car starts shaking when you drive above 65 mph - which I guess in my case is a generous safety measure. I get it, Hertz. Thanks.

I put-putted my way over to Austin this weekend to see my mom and to escape the pain that is Halloween. Not a costume girl over here. If I can’t make it out of my current wardrobe, I don’t want it. And I’ve already gone as a Native American, a dirty hippy and a nerd, so the remaining costume choices from my closet are limited.

Mom and I made a trip to West Elm, Jonathan Adler, Whit Hanks Antiques and Crate & Barrel this weekend. And I didn’t buy a single thing. A. Single. Thing. Not really because I didn’t find anything I liked, but rather I loved too much and my bank account is currently very un-loved. 

It was when we made our way over Whit Hanks that my silent (maybe not as silent as I thought?) water-works began. I’m not sure if my mom even noticed, but I was definitely upset. I could imagine every single piece in my home somewhere. And in my head, it all fit together perfectly and for a reasonable cost. It wasn’t, of course, until I saw my first price tag that I almost had a conniption. An itsy-bitsy, round mirror (8 inches in diameter) was approximately $800. That’s $100 an inch, people! I was wanting to meet the sort of people that decorated their homes with such mirrors. What kind of business are they in and also, are they hiring?

The mid-century stuff was the best. Everything was refinished, reupholstered and redone to perfection. But oddly enough, I don’t have $4,000 to throw at a dining room chair. Does any normal person have that kind of money to throw at a chair? (Apparently not because Whit Hanks is going out of business.)

So I naturally reverted to crying. I guess I’m just an emotional person? And I guess 1945 French side tables just are my kryptonite? Regardless, it felt absurd, but I guess I thought that it was unfair that probably some rich snob with no real taste would hire an interior designer and these one-of-a-kind pieces would just sit in their “winter home” in Aspen or something. Barf.

But for real guys, I genuinely teared up at a few pieces - mainly their accompanying price tags - but I was still very sad that they couldn’t come home with me and be loved and styled into my wannabe-Emily-Henderson-type home. I just have really good taste and when that taste doesn’t match my fashion retail salary, the emotions are overwhelming and the tears start aflowin’. Sorry if I embarrassed you, Mom. There was a reason we had to leave when we did.

{Do I need professional help? Because proofreading this prior to posting has made me realize I sound completely unbalanced. I probably am.}

So obviously I was itching to get some of the remaining pieces for my home after being teased all weekend by that expensive asshole, Whit Hanks. But I figured crying wasn’t going to get me anywhere (this time) so I needed to think cheap. So I finally caved and bought the IKEA barstools for my kitchen counter that I had been eyeing for months. 

I made that IKEA trip on a Monday night at 7pm and I was out to my car at 7:34. (P.S. - did you know that there are “IKEA walkers”? They’ve upgraded from the mall. Or they just really enjoy Swedish meatballs. I didn’t realize these people existed until a little old couple in windbreakers and fanny packs double-lapped me in the chair section.)

Anyway, remember how last time I went to IKEA no one would help me? Well this time, I had an employee lift my boxes and even had an escort out to my (clown) car. What gives?! But I’ll take it. 

So as I’m walking out to my Vise Versa, I start thinking, “man, I hope these boxes will fit in this car”. Because, true to form, I hadn’t measured. I’m sure Mimi just cringed reading that. 

But the thing is, there are apparently a lot of Nissan Versa’s in Houston. Like, a surprisingly large amount for how ugly they are. And they must all be rentals because every one I see has HERTZ sticker on the back window. Poor Versa’s. The only way they can get people to drive them is through discounted rentals and desperation.

So as I’m walking to my car, followed by my new IKEA friend, I start hitting the “unlock”button on my key fob while staring straight ahead a the hatchback from hell. But nothing was happening. Muttering under my breath, I was cursing the rental car gods for not only lending me a circus car, but for giving me one with a fob on the fritz. I’m just about to give up and manually unlock it when my IKEA escort clears his throat,

Him: ma’am, is this your car?
Me: yes, I think the key fob just stopped working because it’s not unlocking! 
Him: oh.. ok…. well, thats interesting. Because every time you hit the button, the little car over there lights up (pointing to my little Versa 20 feet away)

I had walked up to the wrong car. To be fair, it was only three spots ahead of mine and it had the HERTZ rental sticker on the back window too. 

My first reaction was oddly not one of embarrassment. But rather I wanted to go find the other poor soul in IKEA that was driving this car and commiserate with him/her over our tough luck. But then I snapped out of it and sheepishly made it over to the correct rental. I’m sure my IKEA buddy was worried about my ability to assemble these chairs, you know, after not being able to make it to the right car in the mostly empty parking lot and all. It was too much work to explain to him that this really wasn’t my car and I wouldn’t be driving a clown car if I absolutely didn’t have to. So I admitted defeat. 

But I put together my three kitchen barstools - while talking on the phone with my boyfriend, and later over a glass of cheap white wine. It took a while, what with all my distractions and all: a boyfriend, a glass of wine and searching for tiny screws that had gone MIA in my living room rug. Building anything that involves small parts on a shag rug is just a bad idea. 

But I got it done and promptly sent a picture to my boyfriend. And he immediately said, “why are they so tall?!”

Now, I was kind of appalled because this was the one thing I actually did measure for and it looked like it was going to work perfectly. But as I’m sitting here writing this post on said barstools… he may be a little right.

But at least these are pretty and I didn’t have to shed any tears over them.