One unexpected trend of the coronavirus pandemic keeping us sheltered in place is our viewing of the way the rich and famous fashion their homes.
Gangs of hot-shot media personalities, politicians, physicians and other swells are suddenly able to show off their opulent accommodations via television interviews on “video platforms” like Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout and FaceTime.
Back during the 2018 special election to elect someone to fill out former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s term in office, I was lined up by a major television news network for a possible interview about the election. It would be conducted from my home late at night via one of those electronic systems.
“Please have your hair combed and come prepared with a statement that would make some sense to any American who might be watching,” the network’s producer told me.
How could anything I might say about an election in Mississippi make sense to someone in Peoria or Poughkeepsie?
“You will be required to make certain technical adjustments to your cell phone and you probably ought to straighten up your great room,” the nice producer told me.
Great room? She obviously had no idea I would be conducting the interview from my garage, sitting on my lawn mower, where hopefully I could draw a digital signal. Thankfully, the 15-second chance for fame and glory evaporated and I returned to my glass of wine.
Surely you have noticed these home studios in blue-chip abodes owned by media types, immunologists and elected officials.
Some of them report from kitchens large enough to be a home for average people. Many sport Mississippi-made Viking stoves. One home featured regal Greek columns worthy of the Parthenon or the Colosseum. Another popular background shows off impressively-framed diplomas from Ivy League universities like Dartmouth, Yale and Brown.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee conducted a live congressional hearing on the pandemic from his mansion atop an illustrious range somewhere deep in his ancestral Smokey Mountains. The home featured a majestic fireplace with a mantle apparently cut from thousand-year-old butternut hickory trees.
I prefer sets with giant bookshelves, showing us how well read these important people are. It’s been difficult, however, to read titles.
One of my Facebook friends noted, “I’ve been noticing which homes have books. I don’t understand homes without books, so I am comforted when they are there.”
U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney was a panelist for Sen. Alexander’s hearing. No pretentiousness for the spartan man from Utah — the wall behind him was covered in photos of his family, securely held by tacky tacks.
If for some strange reason I was ever asked to Skype again, I’d set it up near a bookcase full of only Mississippi-born books — faves Faulkner’s “The Unvanquished,” John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill,” Willie Morris’ “North Toward Home” and dozens of other books written by literary elite like Eudora Welty, Richard Wright and Greg Iles. I would include my own book, “Hometown.”
I’d also exhibit fine art by native McComb painters Nancy Mauldin, Roger Lawrence and Ann Carruth Jackson, along with a large cloth imprint of McComb native and English vintner Carla Heffner-Carlisle’s label. Stunning pieces of McCarty pottery would adorn a nearby sideboard, the river insignia in proper view.
As for furnishings, I’d follow the late Jerry Clower’s advice on fancying up the East Fork Baptist Church: “Before we spend money on a chandelier, somebody oughta learn how to spell it and how to play it. And maybe we oughta put some lights in heah!”
That’ll play all day in Peoria.
Mac Gordon is a native and part-time resident of McComb. He is a retired newspaperman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.