Smug Scout lives to locate Smugness in its natural or, better yet, completely contrived habitat. One of her favorite places to do this is in other people’s homes. Sometimes, of course, a favorite place for her may be far from a favorite place for her subjects to invite her. For example, she is fairly sure she annoyed the Smug Barrington Bartender by asking to see her refrigerator a few too many times (after a few too many of Smug Barrington Bartender’s Bully Boy artisanal small batch organic white wheat whiskey cocktails). Smug Scout is sure that Smug Barrington Bartender’s refrigerator is full of multiple varieties of kale, local artisanal spirits, and handcrafted products from her Smug country store. She certainly has nothing to prove to Smug Scout. On the other hand, Smug Scout’s friend Derek had much more to prove after tantalizing Smug Scout by saying she probably would not want to see his messy Portsmouth apartment. She said it would be more than enough just to see the Smug decorative corn stalks on his “balcony” (more like a way station for trash that has been carried outside but not down the stairs), but when he invited her in, his place became fair game for a spontaneous Smug home inspection. What caused Smug Scout to be initially quite dumbstruck was the way Derek’s apartment effortlessly combined Smugness with absolute squalor. At first, Smug Scout did not really want to look around, let alone sit down, because she thought she was in the filthy, debauched lair of a frat boy. Imagine her surprise when she discovered a slew of Smug accoutrements mixed into the rubble:
- Locally grown Marina di Chioggia. At first Smug Scout could not believe her eyes. She even said: “You have a Marina di Chioggia?” Derek breezily informed her that this Smug, wart-riddled green pumpkin was a gift from local farmer friends. Smug Scout wishes that she had New Hampshire farmer friends who would share such a Smug bounty.
- Fair trade bamboo bath mat. In addition to its sterling no-exploitation pedigree, this item is Smug because it does so poorly at its only job: soaking up water after a shower. It has zero drying ability, but at least it gives the impression of walking barefoot in some sustainable Southeast Asian forest. You have the added benefit of not having to worry about poachers, smugglers, frightening insects, infectious tropical diseases and other problems that bedevil sustainable Southeast Asian forests. We can probably agree that freezing and wet feet are better than malaria, dengue fever, or being shot with a tranquilizer dart by some cretinous scoundrel poacher who mistook you for an elephant.
- Hand forged cast iron coat rack. Smug Scout did not know right away that she was even looking at a coat rack because no matter how long or hard she stared at it, she did not see one single coat. She then realized that Derek does not wear coats (though he has since bought a bright green Marmot jacket) and that he preferred to use this hand forged cast iron coat rack as a wall decoration. Even the following month when Smug Scout attended parties in Derek’s apartment, she noticed that no one put coats on the coat hooks. Smug Scout assumed this was a house rule of Derek’s, so she put her own Marmot winter wear on the back of a chair that seemed far enough from drunk people’s drinks to be safe. Meanwhile, guests piled their coats on the couch. Smug Scout smirked at the idea that the coat rack was empty while the couch was unusable for its original purpose: sitting.
- Handmade birch bark candles. At first Smug Scout thought she was looking at some phony imitation of birch bark, so Derek had to inform her, quite archly in fact, that these candles were made from repurposed birch trees from the New England woods. These trees, he had to point out Smugly, were not savagely cut down for commercial reasons but rather died of natural causes and reincarnated as a Smug eco-friendly light source.
- Local and artisanal salts, spices, rubs, spreads. Smug Scout was delighted to see this impressive collection of exotic flavored salt, lavender infused raw honey, and Smug Stonewall Kitchen products from the eponymous store down the street. However, what elevated this display’s Smug quotient is that it is just that: a display. Smug Scout was stunned to discover that Derek neither cooks nor eats in this kitchen.
- Artisanal handmade lavender oatmeal soap and local handcarved wooden spoon “sculpture” to prop up broken window. Smug Scout was especially fascinated by this contraption because it demonstrates critical yet at the same time paradoxical elements of Smugness: ridiculously expensive and handmade products stripped of their intended utility only to receive another, apparently more important one. You see, if Derek neither cleans nor cooks, he may as well use the soap and spoon to perform a function like holding up a broken window that he would rather not pay to have properly fixed. Smug Scout understands this choice very well because she balks at spending money anywhere other than Smug restaurants, stores, and vacation destinations.
Still, as impressed as Smug Scout was by the random, yet oddly comprehensive, array of Smug products, she could not help but turn up her nose at the squalor. These were the worst sightings:
- Horrific refrigerator. Smug Scout does not know how to put this politely, nor does she have the slightest inclination to try: she was repulsed by the contents of Derek’s refrigerator, not even to mention the legion of unidentifiable stains decorating its surfaces. She thinks any product bearing a Market Basket label, such as “Fat Free Cottage Cheese,” already a vile over-processed product, must border on inedible. (For those not from the region, Market Basket is a bargain supermarket for those of low taste, lower class, and lowest standards, though Smug Scout has never actually set foot in one to confirm the certainty of her position.) Another nightmare of chemical processing, Entenmann’s “Softees” donuts, certainly comes from the same anti-Smug source. She does not even want to know what the “homemade” very dark brown liquid in the seltzer bottle is (probably not artisanal black birch liqueur). She does approve of both the Stonewall Kitchen Chipotle Ketchup and the Sriracha, though the latter container does not look safe to handle.
- Grotesque tableau. Smug Scout is pretty sure that Derek got the gourd from the fields of his New Hampshire farmer friends, but she does not believe the same could be said of the Cabbage Patch head. She does not know what the white plastic rat has to do with local gourds and bloody doll heads (nor they with each other for that matter) but vaguely wonders if it has something to do with the Pied Piper. And while she received a similar gourd as a gift from Derek, she will not be re-imagining this grisly trifecta in her own home.
Thank you so much for the tour, Derek! Smug Scout recalls that you sent an updated photo of your “re-Smugged” refrigerator, but it has disappeared into BlackBerry oblivion. Perhaps you would like to re-send it? Smug Scout welcomes any photographic rebuttals!