I have a confession.
I shop at K-mart.
Not often – just once in a while on my way home. Sometimes I need to pick up something and it’s convenient. Of course when I do stop in, I have to look at the latest Martha-ware. The one thing that caught my eye on a recent trip was a pack of kitchen towels.
I used to own boatloads of kitchen towels, all inherited from my mom. Most of these were vintage 50’s and 60’s and now they are too holey to be of any use. The last survivor is wrapping up a fruitcake that is pickling in the pantry. (Yes, I make fruitcake – that’s a whole other story!) I am pretty picky about the towels I want. No terrycloth – fine for baths, not for food. Heavy cotton. Something I can bleach if I need to. I want to pass them on to my daughter someday as well.
So here I am, standing in K-mart ogling the selection of towels. They look just like my mom’s. And it pissed me off.
I have been vaguely annoyed by the Martha Stewart line ever since it came out. Well, truth is, MARTHA has vaguely annoyed me since she came out - too much damned perfection. The crafts, the antiques, and the food – she made the average homemaker look like a slacker. You know when she was in prison she was like, “No, no..that is not a way to make a shank…give me that spoon and let me show you how. Now isn’t that better? Tomorrow I’ll show you how to cook Spam in the laundry steam press.”
A lot of this image isn’t even her. She knows how to hire the people who can make her look perfect. It is the same in every field. David Copperfield has a crew of extremely talented guys who round up the ideas and tricks that make up David’s stage show. Martha is no different. She gathers people to her and uses them to build up her own image. It’s smoke and mirrors, but like Copperfield’s illusions, people see what they want to believe in.
The K-mart line shows that she is not an innovator, but a re-inventor. The blurbs say inspired by Martha’s antique collection. The patterns on the towels, the glassware, the cookware – all knockoffs of some long dead creator. But I guess that is ok, because she is Martha.
I don’t want everyone to think that I hate Martha. I have never met her. A friend’s aunt used to work for Martha. The operative phrase being “used to”. The aunt has nothing to relate about her experiences with her former boss, being too much of a lady, but needless to say, you cannot mention “the name” in her presence.
So will I be buying those towels? Maybe – the jury is still out on that one. They were kind of on the thin side for my tastes. Will I be buying into the Stewart mystique? Well, it’s a lil’ on the thin side for my tastes too.