Blind Killer

Nov 7, 2007 at 4:00 am

If you've ever been entangled in the cords of a mini blind and lived to tell about it, consider yourself among the lucky. While it's unclear how much time you've got left once you've been caught in a mini blind, it's somewhere between death by shark attack and lightning strike. Unreal, you say? In the past 30 years some 339 people have met their ignominious end by strangling in the cords of a mini blind.

Thankfully, a solution may be close at hand.

Last month Clayton attorney Jeffrey Lowe amended a massive civil lawsuit filed in 2005 that may one day topple the mini blind industry. If successful, Lowe's lawsuit, filed in plaintiff-friendly Madison County, Illinois, will provide millions of Americans a few dollars to replace their mini blinds with safer, more user-friendly window coverings.

Lowe, meanwhile, will profit to the tune of $167 million, according to estimates in the court newspaper Madison County Record.

How can Unreal mention money when discussing something as grave as mini blinds? Because we're jealous we didn't come up with the lawsuit ourselves! That said, Unreal is willing to serve as a plaintiff should any attorney file lawsuits against the following common — but deadly! — household items:

Windows: If mini blinds are a slam-dunk, then what about the deathtraps those blinds conceal? Broken glass is sharp. Heck, you may as well have razor wire installed in your home! How much blood will be shed before the window industry is brought to justice?

Bathtubs: Water + Porcelain = Slippery!

Paring knives: Sure, they de-vein shrimp and peel potatoes with ease, but these little suckers can also slice off a fingertip, or puncture a lung when thrust repeatedly into a human torso.

Stairs: They're great for ascending. But descending? These things are dangerous! One slip and you're on the basement floor quicker than you can say "tortuous negligence."

Garbage disposals: Do we even have to paint this gruesome picture? 

Birth of the Cool

Unreal always assumed coolness was one of those ineffable qualities you either possess or you don't. The factor that distinguishes the truly cool from the mere poseur is that the truly cool don't give a damn about being cool. Coolness, for us — er, them — just is. But if you make an effort to be cool — that's totally uncool.

Of course, we concocted this philosophy while wallowing in the humiliation brought about by artificially attempting to enhance our coolness. (The most notable of these: discussing Harold Brodkey's sex writing with the professor upon whom we had a mad crush and then, on our way out, walking into the wall when we were aiming for the door.)

How fortunate we thought ourselves last week, then, when a copy of In the Know: The Classic Guide to Being Cultured and Cool by Nancy MacDonell landed on our desk. At last, we would be truly cool!

We flipped immediately to the fashion section. We learned who Elsa Schiaparelli was (famous designer who once made a hat shaped like a shoe) and, from the handy pronunciation guide, how to say her name ("SKAP-a-relli"). As for our own wardrobe, MacDonell had only two useful bits of advice: Spend lots of money on accessories and, when it comes to coats, "Choose solid colors over prints, and don't buy anything that doesn't fit in the shoulders." (Thanks, Mom!)

It turns out that MacDonell's idea of "coolness" involves a lot of acquisition, from Moleskine notebooks to a particular Danish-made rubber washing-up bowl to the art books to display on your coffee table: "A bookcase full of literary novels suggests that you've got intellectual depth; a coffee table piled with large-format photo books shows that you've got style, too. An informed eclecticism is the goal here." (No. 1 on her list: A Wonderful Time: An Intimate Portrait of the Good Life by Slim Aarons.)

If you could see us now: settled back in our Eames chair, grooving to Kind of Blue and pretending to read Tender Is the Night.