When I visited the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul with my husband, Frank, the Rick Steves guidebook we were using kept encouraging us to interact with merchants and artisans in the enormous market’s “outer fringe,” beyond the tourist- and trinket-filled central zones.
Because I am a weak-willed follower who will do anything a book tells me to do (in other words, I’m a Christian), I was of course trying to adhere as closely as I could to Rick’s orders as he led us past countless stalls and through labyrinthine passageways so that we could pester silversmiths and rug makers trying to do their jobs.
Trouble is, the merchants are less interested in awkward, cross-cultural social exchange than in selling stuff. And rightly so, seeing as how we were at a marketplace and not, say, a speed-dating event.
Frank was especially sensitive to the notion that we were wasting the time of the vendors we interacted with, given that we didn’t intend to buy their wares. He is, however, highly susceptible to any sales pitch that stresses the bougie, luxury-grade quality of the item being pitched (in other words, he’s a Taurus).
And so, thanks to Frank’s fondness for the finer things and my fundamentalist obedience to the Gospel According to Rick, we ended up sitting through a Turkish carpet salesperson’s half-hour lecture on the superiority of his rugs vis-à-vis every other floor covering on earth. I have forgotten the evidence he presented; it had something to do with examining each rug’s underside.
What’s worse, Frank came dangerously close to shilling out large sums of U.S. currency for a hallway runner, and it was up to me—the weak-willed one!—to be like, “I don’t think we can afford this. Or fit it in our suitcase. Or learn to live with that pattern.”
The hallway of our apartment at the time never did get a runner for the whole four years we lived there. I nicknamed this rugless walkway The Deb, which was short for its full name, the Debby Sellers Honorary Promenade, after my mother, who helped us decorate the space when we moved in. Mostly, that involved adorning the walls with framed photos from our travels and other souvenirs.
For the record, had the hall’s namesake lived at that address, she would never have let an expanse of hardwood go uncovered like that. She would have also put down those thin, rubbery pads that are supposed to go beneath rugs to keep them in place.
So I failed Deb even as I tried to honor her with The Deb, and I have to live with that.
At least there’s a rug in the hallway of the apartment that Frank and I currently rent. I see no signs of quality on its underside, and I don’t even know where you buy those rubbery pads, but I’m making progress.
The Fetching Rug is what I call it, because if I sit on it and toss a squeaky toy for my dog, Lucy, she’s more likely to return the toy to me if I’m stationed here than anywhere else. Don’t ask me why. But if a fetching mission launches from the kitchen, for example, Lucy is liable to get distracted and leave me hanging or try to get me to chase her by squeaking the toy a lot, as if I’m going to find her raggedy, slobber-covered pink pig irresistible because she’s making it sound like a rodent couple having simultaneous orgasms.
Even from the Fetching Rug, Lucy’s toy-return rate is, by my estimate, only about 30%. On the occasions when she fetches properly, she’ll come sliding into the rug as if it were home plate, leaving the lightweight yet scratchy fabric crumpled up around us.
I assume this is the kind of thing that the manufacturers of rug pads have nightmares about.