TURTLE CREEK, Indiana. Five months ago, Beth Ovashinsky had everything going for her; a new home, her loving husband Larry, and 8-year-old twin daughters Belinda and Melinda. “I guess I didn’t know how good I had it,” she says now. “Larry had a real good year selling life insurance, and when that bonus check came in I decided to redecorate.”
There followed a chintz-fueled blitzkreig as Beth furnished their 2,500 square foot home in this suburb of Indianapolis in time for the Super Bowl. “If I hadn’t been so busy picking out fabric and wallpaper, I might have noticed he was gone,” she says now. “But he just slank–slunk?–off, and I haven’t seen him since.”
Pottery Barn pass defense: If you break him, he’s yours.
Larry Ovashinksy is part of the growing phenomenon of “feral” husbands who return to nature after being driven from their homes by excessive chintz and other interior decorating flourishes. “If you don’t catch them before they get to a sports bar or a Bass Pro Rod ‘n Reel shop, you’re too late,” says Dr. Oliver Walmstead, a veterinarian at St. Jude’s Memorial Animal Hospital in Muncie, Indiana. “They begin to forage on beer nuts and beef jerky, and they’ll never put the seat down again.”
“Is there somewhere in there I’m allowed to sleep?”
Beth tried unsuccessfully to lure Larry back onto their 1.5 acre lot here by leaving offerings of smoked cheddar cheese and beer at the suggestion of a local bait and tackle store owner. “I got him a subscription to Sports Illustrated with the commemorative Super Bowl DVD,” she says, as she wipes her nose, reddened by a half-hour crying jag. “I’d go out into the back yard and yell ‘You can wear your stupid-looking leather throwback helmet around the house–just please come home!’”
Chintz plant, creeping towards suburban living room
Chintz is a noxious weed and forage crop introduced to America by Portugese and Dutch traders in the 1600’s. Its use in the home has crowded out masculine decorating themes such as boxing and hunting prints, professional sports team memorabilia and dog poker paintings.
“Your wife said we were tacky?”
The National Association of Man Cave Dwellers has petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare chintz a pest weed, fearing it will eventually invade the last male sanctuaries in U.S. homes. “I drew a line at the top of the basement steps,” says Oren Dailey of Keokuk, Iowa. “I’ve got to have someplace to display my collection of dirt-track race car driver paintings.”