Deck the halls

With the leaf-whump arrival of autumn, it's time to snuggle indoors in front of a hearty fire and notice that you've never really liked the way the living room is arranged.

That's right, it's Home Decorating Season. The season of thumbing through catalogs and designating a place for the Christmas tree and locating "just the right thing" to dress up that naked corner before relatives arrive to visit.

It's too cold to plant anything else in the yard, so the women of America move indoors and start rearranging the furniture. Just in time for football season.

Across the nation, men are sacked out on sofas, watching ESPN and trying to avoid raking leaves, and their wives stand in front of the TVs with fevered eyes, saying, "Put down those Chee-tos, and help me nail these pine boughs to the mantel."

Sorry, ladies, but guys are blissful idiots when it comes to making the house look nice for the holidays. It's all up to you. As long as you don't stand a lamp in front of the TV, we're OK with whatever you want to do. Just don't expect us to know anything, to have any opinions or, frankly, to care about slipcovers or potpourri or tinsel. Not with the playoffs coming up.

To understand how little the subspecies "guy" thinks about interior decorating, look at the basic bachelor pad, the nest of the undomesticated male. There are three rules for home design in bachelor living:

1) The sofa shall be parked squarely in front of the TV. No matter what.
2) The fewer the steps from sofa to fridge, the better.
3) A bed is nice, but not absolutely necessary.

Beyond those precepts, guys simply don't care. We could live in a cave as long we get cable TV. Or, we can live in a room where all the rickety antiques are draped in matching frilly chintz and every square inch of every wall is covered in holiday finery. It doesn't matter to us.

Men who settle down soon learn to pretend to care about how the home looks. We learn to murmur appreciatively over new purchases and to have the right opinions about "window treatments." We learn to go into hiding if we see our wives cooing over "Sunset" magazine.

Most of all, we learn to notice when our wives place little decorative touches around the house. If we know what's good for us.

This busy time of year, guys should make a cursory reconnaissance of the home every night, in search of new stuff that has been hung by the chimney with care.

First of all, you can mention how nice it looks (be specific!) and score much-needed Home Decorating Season points. Secondly, you can keep track of how much is spent spiffing up the place and consider working some overtime. Most importantly, a quick nightly check of the home's current status might prevent you from later falling over a table in the dark.

Beyond simple "noticing," guys should try to get into the spirit of the season. Grunt up off the sofa and help nail some stuff to the walls. Move some furniture. Bring some leaves in from the yard and arrange them into a colorful centerpiece.

You can get a lot accomplished during halftime.

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