First Diane, now Martha: They're history

March 05, 1994|By ALICE STEINBACH

Women, I have observed, fall into two main categories: Those who are Martha Stewart and those who are not.

I, after a long period of denial, am resigned to being part of the latter group.

In other words: It's over. I give up. Uncle!

Or to be completely non-sexist: Uncle! and Aunt!

What can I tell you?

I tried raising my own free-range chickens. I tried making curtains from bedsheets. I tried creating centerpieces from gourds and Gouda. I tried garnishing desserts with apple-tree branches -- from my own orchard -- dipped in chocolate.

I tried all this. And I failed.

(By the way, did I mention I tried wearing green and navy blue together? Been there. Done that.)

So I give up.

I am not proud of giving up. In fact, giving up my aspirations to Martha Stewartism is almost as painful as giving up my quest, a few years ago, for Diane Sawyerism.

(And, no, despite some rumors to the contrary, I do not believe Martha Stewart and Diane Sawyer are actually the same person. Although, come to think of it, I've never seen them together.)

What really finished me off -- Martha Stewartism-wise -- was a recent newspaper report listing the "10 Things That Drive Martha Stewart Crazy."

It made me realize that many of the things that drive Martha crazy are precisely the things I could not give up.

Case in point: Unsolicited (is there any other kind?) junk mail. Martha hates this.

I, on the other hand, look forward to these dispatches from the world of commerce and community.

First of all, you can count on junk mail. It is one of life's constants. Friends and family may forget to drop you a line but junk mail never does.

And now that junk mail so closely resembles "unjunk" mail -- often masquerading as telegrams, invitations, checks made out to you for $10,000, etc. -- the challenge of telling one from another often makes my day.

Secondly, and most important, junk mail is never a bill.

Martha Stewart also hates wastefulness in the home. "People shouldn't use paper towels to clean everything," she told the Palm Beach Post. "Use damp rags and rinse them out."

Obviously, the Divine Miss S. has no children.

In homes where children have taken up residence, paper towels are king.

My sons, for instance, thought nothing of going through three rolls of paper towels per day. Four or five jumbo-sized rolls if the day included washing the dog.

Or the car.

And any damp rags in our house were usually being worn by the sons who, in what seems a genetically determined trait, were incapable of waiting for the clothes dryer to finish its cycle.

In a related pet peeve, Martha Stewart declares war on dirty windows. "Just wipe them off whenever you see a spot on them," she advises.

As someone whose windows are way past the professional window-washing stage and headed for the sand-blasting option, must demur. Clearly, Martha is unaware of -- or perversely chooses to ignore -- the Domino Theory of Good Housekeeping.

Which is: Clean windows let in more light. More light shows up any cleaning short-cuts taken by the less-than-perfect housekeeper.

Particularly unflattering in the clear light of day are accumulated dustballs, hairballs and chewed-up balls of any sort thrown to amuse a cat or dog.

Ms. Martha also puts her Bass Weejun-clad foot down when it comes to "kitchen sloppiness that leads to appliance breakdown."

Whew! This is a biggie. Martha says that you ought to be able to get at least 40 years out of kitchen appliances.

I say: The only thing in my kitchen that is at least 40 years old is me.

By the way, did I mention that when Martha Stewart cut her hair short, I did too?

Although come to think of it, maybe that was when Diane Sawyer cut her hair short.

Or that when Martha Stewart baked a cake for 80 at her Barnard College reunion, I had three friends over for coffee and a Pillsbury marble-mix cake?

But, hey, it's enough already.

On the other hand, if you want more, I'd suggest you pick up a copy of my new magazine: All About Martha Stewart and Me.

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