Mountain Family: The sad tale of our carpet |

Mountain Family: The sad tale of our carpet

Alex Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyAlex Miller

The carpet in our duplex originally came from another land, another time, where it was the ceremonial floor covering for a grand hall frequented by everything from orcs and goblins to muleskinners, chimney sweeps and members of the International Brotherhood of the Filthy Feet.

Through the years, our carpet suffered many other indignities as it went down the ladder of prestige. From the grand hall, it was relegated to an Elk’s Lodge in Dubuque, where it had approximately 64 gallons of beer spilled on it in increments averaging 6.7 ounces, over a period of 47 years. At one point, it was ripped out and left in a field, where a neighboring kennel of dachshunds and weimaraners peed on it, ritually and frequently. At one point, the carpet was a resting place for an itinerant herd of llamas.

Years passed, and then our carpet was stolen by jawas and sold on the black market to a carpet dealer in Dotsero named Mudd. More years passed, the carpet languished in the back room as Mudd’s business slowly failed. At his going-out-of-business sale, the last item he had to get rid of was our carpet. In fact, he was on the verge of tossing it in the trash and closing the shop for good when the people who own our duplex drove up and bought it.

“Good enough for renters,” was their presumed assessment. And so that’s the carpet we have in our house.

Perhaps I exaggerate some. And it may have less to do with a dubious history than the fact that they did, in fact, choose a cheap, off-white carpet that was apparently installed by lemurs. It is impossible to keep clean, despite our having a strict ” though largely ineffectual and slightly ridiculous ” shoes-off policy for anyone entering our home. Oh, and having five kids and their friends moving over the carpet at all times doesn’t help.

I love the way things just appear on the carpet. Once, we found an entire grape (of course) ice pop in the corner that had just melted unseen. Even after professional cleaning, the palimpsest of the pop still persists ” a lingering memory to a summer day long ago, some airheaded teenager perpetrating the crime against carpet and moving on to his or her next activity.

Our kindergartner, though, is the prime culprit in wreaking havoc on the poor carpet. When he eats, matter flies from his mouth area in an arc spanning at least 6 feet. He’s like one of those food processors set to “high” without the cover firmly in place. Andy plus one saltine can create enough crumbs to cover the surface of Mile High Stadium. I know that, from a physics standpoint, this is impossible, which is why we’re entertaining thoughts of hiring Andy out to the World Food Bank. If he can do this kind of “loaves-and-fishes” trick on a larger scale, it could solve world hunger. As it is now, a Sudanese family of four could exist for a week off what falls on our carpet around Andy’s chair daily.

Vacuuming helps, but nothing short of monthly professional cleaning would likely make much difference ” and at $300 a pop, that’s not too likely. What we’ve had to do is adjust downward our expectations of what our carpet should look like, focusing instead on the more controllable areas at eye level. We dream of having our own home some day, of course, and in that home the carpet is a mottled, multi-colored thing that can visually absorb any insult.

Don’t even ask about the linoleum in the kitchen.

Alex Miller can be reached at

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