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There are a million shameful little secrets in the not-so-naked city. This one's mine. 

Every so often, I tell all my friends I'm busy or sick or out of town, even though I'm not. I close the blinds, draw the drapes, forward my calls to the answering service. I pour a glass of wine, curl up under the covers and take out my secret stash of those magazines. 

Them. The ones I keep buying, despite the odd looks I get from the sales clerks. Sometimes I buy something else along with them, as camouflage. A couple of serious, literary books; an earnest political commentary magazine; maybe even a two-pound computer manual. Anything to make the clerks think I'm a serious, worthwhile person instead of someone whose literary tastes begin and end with seductive, brightly colored rags. Then I slink out of the store with my loot, planning another evening of sybaritic delight. 

Feeding the Interior Beast

You know your addiction to interiors has gotten out of hand when you start buying big, expensive picture books on decorating. If you've reached that point...

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I spread them out over the bed and try not to drool. Which one first? The Architectural Digest with the article on famous Hollywood mansions? The World of Interiors about Moroccan bazaars and converted medieval priories? House Beautiful on Art Nouveau? Or maybe the Elle Décor with the purple velvet sofa on the cover? 

Yes. I confess. I'm a decorating mag addict. Hooked on yuppie porn. 

Hey, don't get me wrong. This decorating thing doesn't run my life. I mean, I'm perfectly capable of discussing important, serious subjects, like People's incisive choice of Harrison Ford as the world's sexiest man (not to mention their criminal negligence in ignoring Patrick Stewart's compelling qualifications for the same title).  

And all you have to do is look around my apartment to know I don't actually do any of this decorating stuff in real life. Martha Stewart may encourage readers to ditch predictable floral arrangements for table ornaments that make a unique, personal statement. But even she would find the rough drafts of three novels a little too eccentric for a centerpiece. Not to mention the fact that I'd need an hour's warning to clear enough space for anyone to actually eat at my dining room table.  

And the books in my living room are approaching critical mass. In other words, the number of books in stacks on the floor will soon exceed the number for which I have shelf space. The same holds true for my home office, affectionately known as the "Wrecked Room."  

I don't dare let anyone into the bedroom. If anyone ever saw how many back issues of Architectural Digest and House and Garden I have stacked up in there... 

Periodically, I go through a period of disenchantment. I know that, like the models in Vogue and Elle, the rooms shown in decorating magazines aren't real. They're carefully groomed and lovingly photographed until they glow with a perfection rarely achieved in real life. (Where do they put their stuff, for heaven's sake? Don't these people have stuff?)  

And if you let them, model rooms can evoke the same feelings of inferiority as their human counterparts. By the time I left my teens, I'd accepted the fact that neither Playboy nor Vogue was ever going to show up on my doorstep with a camera crew. But still, sometimes, when I'm flipping through a decorating magazine, I find myself thinking, "My place could look like that if I just set my mind to it. All I'd need to do is..." 

No! Banish the thought! I will never achieve decorating magazine perfection. My brother once looked around my living room and declared, "You know, this place is really you." From which I assume that he sees me as dusty, eccentric, festooned with strange and amusing objects, and hopelessly devoted to the printed word. I guess I'll have to settle for that. 

Although I read not too long ago that the minimalist look in decorating is passe, and stylish clutter is in. Hey, I could do that. I'm sure I could. Just let me find the article again; I know I've got the magazine in one of these stacks... 

Donna Andrews

Donna Andrews is the author of Murder with Peacocks, which won the 1998 St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic New Writer Award.