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Free Advice – Worth Every Penny
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 • Posted June 9, 2010

MSN recently ran a story called ‘9 Décor Trends to Skip.’ The idea, I think, is to let people know how they should be decorating their houses these days, to stay up with the latest fashions. Which is pretty silly, right off the bat. My idea of acceptable home décor is stuff that doesn’t have to be moved. Ever.

Plus, how I decorate my house is none of MSN’s business, and it seems pretty presumptuous of them to even think I might listen to them. Like I would pick up a GQ magazine and then decide to dress the way the pansies in the magazine do. So the whole idea of an online story influencing what I put on my walls is pretty funny.

And then, when I read the article, I knew right away that whoever wrote it had no idea what they were talking about. The first two items on the list, and therefore the two ‘décor trends’ I’m supposed to seriously eschew, were antlers and taxidermy. Ha! What bozos.

There was also a picture with the story, which I assume demonstrated what they meant by the first item, antlers, and it wasn’t a picture of antlers. It was a picture of horns. Longhorn horns, to be specific. I guess MSN can’t tell the difference.

But the very idea that there is something wrong with decorating a living room with antlers, horns, and shoulder mounts is pretty ignorant, if you ask me. Paintings are fine, I guess, once in a while, especially if you’ve got the one where the dogs are playing poker, but you can’t liven up a room right good without putting up some heads here and there.

As for most of the rest of the stuff on the MSN list, I really couldn’t comment. It included things like ‘black chalkboard paint,’ ‘ghost chairs,’ ‘poufs,’ and ‘boutique hotel chic.’ I have no idea what any of that means. Also on the list were ‘inspirational sayings’ and ‘Buddha sculptures.’ Which, as far as I can tell, were never trends to begin with.

Another recent MSN story was almost as helpful as the décor mess. This one had two parts, one for men and one for women, and it listed 15 ‘love rules’ for each gender. MSN seems to be pretty big on lists lately.

The idea, I think, with the love rules list was to tell married people how to stay married, which is fine if the advice was any good. It wasn’t, much. As someone who has been married for 25 years, without a break, I can tell you MSN is full of beans, at least as far as their tips for men go.

The list included things like ‘lend a hand.’ Fellows, this is a big mistake. I recently tried to help my wife out with the laundry, which requires a degree that comes with initials, if women’s clothes are involved. Some of my wife’s clothes ended up pretty much Barbie-sized, and I ended up in the doghouse. Best just to let her alone and stay out of the way.

Another tip was ‘surprise her.’ That advice is worse than the helping tip. Every time I surprise my wife I get in trouble. I gave her a paperback book full of Paul Harvey’s radio programs for her fifth wedding anniversary, and she still tells people about that. And since she likes to go boating the life jacket went over pretty good, until she found out a company rep had given it to me for free. I’m thinking a fishing rod and tackle box might be just the thing for our anniversary next week, but I can’t figure out whether to go with the soft plastic worms and lizards, or splurge and fill the box with Rat-L-Traps and buzzbaits. You never can tell, with women.

Two items on the list, right together, were ‘don’t try to change her’ and ‘be open to changes.’ Now, that doesn’t make much sense to me at all. I always thought marriage was a two-way street, but I guess MSN is saying women drive on both sides of the road.

The best advice in the piece was ‘apologize.’ No married fellow in the country would argue with that. I once met a guy who had been married a while, and he had gone to a T-shirt shop and had a shirt made that said "Yes, dear" on the front, and "I’m sorry" on the back. He just turned the appropriate direction as the situation demanded.

So MSN is a lot of help, but mostly just for people who write columns complaining about stuff that doesn’t make any sense. If you want real, up to date, valuable news, you need to read your hometown newspaper.

And if you want to decorate your house or please your wife, I can tell you how to do either or both in three words – go kill something . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who never decorates with stuff he didn’t shoot himself. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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