It’s meant that we wanted something easy to clean.
What else does it mean?
The Kellys, Paul and Joyce, bought the house 30 years ago, from the ex-wife of the guy who built it. He’d designed it in the spirit of a California rambler, then run off to actual California, leaving his ex to live in his dream. The place was a disaster back then — oh, you should have seen it — powder-blue carpet, white grand piano. And the kitchen? Walls, blocking the dining room, blocking the view down to the river. Formica abounded, or maybe it was another kind of laminate. Paul redid those countertops in the 1990s. He used tile, which was popular then. The Kellys lived with the tile for 20 years, but it was the kind of countertop that you could scrub and scrub and never get to sparkle.
“It was starting to rot, and the grout was all yicky,” explains Joyce.
Some women in her book club were getting new kitchens. Several of them on this Silver Spring block — bip bip bip, all in a row, new countertops. It became a thing as they all decided they wanted to age in place, but not if their places had disgusting kitchens. Joyce looked at her friends’ ambitious kitchen plans, and decided it was time. In October, the Kellys went to a granite dealer. They ordered granite countertops.
“This was the most expensive granite they had,” says Joyce, explaining that they splurged on materials and saved by doing the installation themselves. “It has totally fabulous flow.”
“Joyce walked in and immediately bonded with the granite,” says Paul, a retired mathematician.
“It’s very hip. It has green and rust,” Joyce says, which brings out the cherry in the cabinets. It has a name: Crema Bordeaux. Anywhere in the world, granite of this color is called Crema Bordeaux, just like anywhere in the world, an Ikea Poang chair is an Ikea Poang chair. “Just look at it.”
It looks — it looks like granite. It looks like lovely granite, but granite is in the eye of the beholder, and the unique characteristics of one’s own granite are not immediately apparent to a newcomer. One’s own granite sings a special siren song. All around the country, couples leave parties and get in their cars and say to each other, “I’m so glad we went with the Santa Cecilia instead of the Kashmir Gold.”
Joyce pauses. She looks concerned.
“I would be more comfortable,” she says, “if we were talking about something that was important.” Something that mattered. She is not a frivolous person. She knows the difference between what matters and what doesn’t.