Monday, April 26, 2010

Part III of « How to Buy a Huge, Old, Expensive Chandelier Without Even Trying »

So, there I was blithely walking around the hotel, unaware that dramatic lighting was in my future. JP told me he was going to write in a bid for the next day’s auction , I merely gave a vague « Mmmm.. that’s nice » and went back to inspecting the gruesome brown tile in the 1970’s bathroom with horrified fascination.
« Somebody chose this tile. On purpose !» I marvelled to myself.
I saw JP wander off and get into line to place his bid, but I just smiled indulgently. Kind of like when your 12 year old announces he’s going to be 'Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter' when he grows up. There’s a slight chance that you’ve got something to worry about. But it’s much more likely that it’s not going to happen.
That was my policy on the chandelier.
I found out that I was wrong a few days later when JP came down the stairs and said « Guess what? ».
I’d heard the phone ring a moment before and had figured that he’d picked it up…but I had no good guesses in mind.
Not a one.
Then he said « We got it » and I somehow knew immediately what he was talking about wasn’t something as bad as, say, head lice, but was definitely not something I would unconditionally like, such as winning a million Euros in the lottery.
Call it wifely intuition.
« We got the chandelier and we need to pick it up by tomorrow night. »
At least, it was a complete surprise to me.
Now, at this point, I actually could still have stopped this. We still had the right to refuse to buy the thing. But JP really wanted it and I was beginning to think that it would look kind of funky and unconventional hanging in our new room.

There’s also this: when I was a kid, a local restaurant in my hometown shut down. « Diamond Jim’s » was supposed to be pretty fancy, I guess. ( I am very hazy on the details and have GOT to ask my mom for details the whole thing) The simple version of the story is that the place sold off the furnishing and my parents ended up with two things:
a. the top part of a wooden partition set with panels of red plexi-glass.
(Yes, it was just as awful as it sounds. But hey- it was the 70’s. I don’t have to defend anything.)
b. a crystal chandelier
Strange coincidence, or what?
We were not, in the general way of things, crystal chandelier kind of people. In the early years, the family living room featured a gun cabinet as the major piece of furniture. (Yes, it was full of guns. Thank you for asking) But then suddenly we had a chandelier and the guns got moved to the basement and we were looking pretty fancy.
Today (40 years later!) that chandelier hangs in the foyer of my parents' very lovely home and looks pretty gorgeous.
So, I hardly had the heart to quash JP’s chandelier project. It’s possible that in 40 years I still may be looking at, enjoying the darn thing and all the funny memories behind it, right?
So, I got busy helping find someone to retrieve it. Luckily, Monica's husband didn’t have to work the next afternoon, so he and his son went to go get it for us.

From what he told me later, getting it was just awful. They showed up and were told to get the thing down and carted off, pronto. That’s right- they were expected to take it off the ceiling alone! They borrowed a ladder and a few tools and just barely managed to get the thing down. D said it was just sheer luck that he’d brought his 14 year old along for company and he didn’t know how he would have managed if he hadn’t. I felt pretty bad putting them to so much trouble…
They loaded it in the back of their station wagon drove off to meet up with JP. They had to pass the Swiss border and hope they didn’t get stopped. JP was waiting at the drop-off point in the parking lot of a cinema multiplex. He got the chandelier wrestled into our car, paid back D the money for the thing and then gave his son some cash for helping out. The whole transaction seemed vaguely like a particularly incompetent drug deal …
For a few days, the thing sat on the floor in the new room. But then JP wanted to varnish in there, so then it sat right in the middle of the kitchen for a few days.
So, I was vastly relieved to come back from an outing to Evian one day and fine the chandelier hanging in its rightful place! The electrician had come to finish wiring the room and had (with the help of two assistants and JP) gotten it up and running.

(I had taken some pics of it laying on the floor around the house, but I can't find them. If I do, I'll edit and post them)

It lights up the room quite well and certainly gets remarks from all the visitors...


oreneta said...

That sucker is AMAZING! My parents also got a chandelier out of a house they left...I briefly debated taking the one from our house in Canada, but I hated washing the thing, read I never did, and it just didn't look as good covered in dust.

babzee said...

Considering this nugget of bizarre historical family cohesion, would Tya consider the name "Inappropriate Chandeliers" for her band?