Beautiful or Functional, What Works Best?

We all have to make choices in life, which often raises the question of what is better, beautiful or functional. My wife and I have been together for 50 years, and to a fault she prefers beautiful things while I always go with functional. I’m here today to argue for functional. Allow me to explain. Beautiful or Functional

My wife is 5’4” tall and I am 6’7”. This makes our choice of furniture interesting. She likes beautiful, matching furniture. When we furnished our lake house, all the new pretty sofas and chairs were short with low backs. They did not work well for someone my size. So, my wife relented and we purchased functional, an L-shaped sofa with my height in mind. It was wonderful, nine feet long on one side and six feet on the other, with high back cushions, but it was brown. Beautiful or Functional

I could actually lay down and stretch out on this sofa; great for watching TV with my eyes closed. Functional for me, but not particularly beautiful; it was an ugly brown and didn’t match anything else in the otherwise blue and white room. It was also proportionally tall and long, so when my poor wife sat on it her feet could not touch the floor; not so functional for her (bringing up another point, that functionality may be person-specific). She may have mentioned these facts to me a time or two over the years. Beautiful or Functional

We recently moved to a condo in Florida. This particular condo came complete with very nice matching furniture. This included beautiful wooden TV cabinets, table with matching wicker chairs, wicker rocking chairs in the living room, all upscale stuff. Apparently the previous owners had planned to move there, so they fixed the place up nicely. Then, their grandchildren talked them out of moving and they sold to us. Beautiful or Functional

The problem, once again none of the furniture fit my 6’7” frame. I may have mentioned this to my wife numerous times, as my back seized up while watching TV from sitting in cushioned wicker rocking chairs that were too short to support my frame. My wife really liked the way all the current furniture matched, and she was not happy about the idea of replacing one of the wicker rockers. Beautiful or Functional

After about the kajillionth time I mentioned this issue, or moaned in pain, she gave in and we ordered me a nice La-Z-Boy recliner, extra-large, and functional for me. I am now comfortable, but there is a downside. I don’t think I’ve seen an entire episode of anything on TV since I got my new recliner. It’s so comfortable that I generally fall asleep within twenty minutes of my ass hitting the seat. Beautiful or Functional

The good news (?), my wife enjoys waking me up so I don’t miss the show, by throwing a shoe at me. I’m thinking this also has something to do with the fact that she growls under her breath every time she walks into the living room and is confronted by that gigantic recliner that ruins the ambiance of her once perfect condo. Beautiful or Functional

Then, there’s the infrequent need to buy a new car. (Oh boy!) My wife is willing to admit that I know more about cars than she does, and allows me to make the decision as to which vehicle to purchase. This comes with one stipulation; she gets to have some say in the color. One would think that this should work well, since I am concerned about function and she about beauty. Beautiful or Functional

We decided to try a luxury car, went to a BMW dealership, and ordered a 3-series. I got the six-speed manual, because I’m a car guy who thinks of driving as a sport. My wife thinks of driving as getting from home to her yoga class; simply getting from one place to the other. But, it has to be done in something pretty. Beautiful or Functional

So, when we looked at BMWs we found a classy looking grey model in the showroom with tan leather interior that my wife really liked. That’s the color that she wanted. I ordered the car, we waited two months, and it finally arrived. We went to pick it up on a cloudy Saturday and took a fun drive around the countryside. My wife, to her credit, also drives a stick, so this car worked for both of us. After our initial drive in the country, we parked our new car in the garage for the night. Beautiful or Functional

Next morning, I got up bright and early to take it out for another run. On that bright, sunny Sunday morning I pulled the car out of the garage. I parked in the driveway and got out to admire the new car before heading off for a drive in the country, and I discovered something rather disturbing. At that time, BMW used metal flakes in the paint to make for an even classier look. In the bright sunlight those metal flakes turned my classy grey BMW into a distinctly purple BMW…PURPLE! Beautiful or Functional

I was overcome with feelings of chaos, frustration, chaos, disappointment and chaos. How could a classy grey BMW with tan leather interior morph into a PURPLE car? I called my wife outside, pointed out this tragic turn of events, and declared that she no longer would have any input into the color of our cars. I was all about function. I had chosen a luxury BMW, with comfort, a 6-speed standard transmission for fun, a great engine with good mileage…all infinitely functional. She had gone for beauty, and here I was with a 2005 PURPLE BMW. Oh, woe is me. Beautiful or Functional

Karma is a pain in the butt. I had yelled at my wife and blamed her for the purple BMW, even though I too had liked the classy grey color as it appeared in the showroom. This same BMW had the option of pre-setting seat positions (please note this is a functional thing). I pointed out what a great idea this was for a couple such as us, one over six foot and the other not. Beautiful or Functional

I set my seat position to #1 since I drove the car more often than my wife, and she set hers to #2. One morning a couple of weeks later I got up early to meet a friend for breakfast; hadn’t had my coffee yet. I got into the driver’s seat, the position didn’t seem quite right, and I inadvertently hit #2. My life flashed before my eyes as the seat began to move my large torso towards the steering wheel and then compress me against said wheel. Needless to say, I was suddenly wide awake, as my new BMW tried to murder me. Beautiful or Functional

I was able to reach the ignition switch and turn the key off of accessory just before my rib cage caved in. I then turned it back to accessory and hit #1, allowing me to breathe again. When I mentioned this incident to my wife, she just grinned and said, “Good to hear your new car is both beautiful and functional. Me, I kind of liked our old 4-Runner.” Beautiful or Functional

Fast-forward to 2018. In the throes of my second (or perhaps third) mid-life crisis, I needed something new and exciting in my life. I decided on a new car, something fun. So, I traded in our Subaru Forester on a Subaru WRX, a genuinely fun car; six-speed manual, 268 HP turbo-charged flat 4-cylinder engine, AWD, a blast on the corners and lots of pickup. (I subsequently found out that this car did come with one disturbing flaw; it has the questionable distinction of being the model of car in the U.S. most likely to get a speeding ticket. Apparently the police think it’s going fast even when it’s parked in a 7-Eleven lot). Beautiful or Functional

When I went to order my new car, my wife came along. I reminded her that she had relinquished her right to insert an opinion as to the color of the car based on our previous experience with the BMW. She begrudgingly agreed. I examined a couple of WRXs in the showroom, and picked the royal blue, a beautiful and yet classy color that did not yell out “I’m fast, give me a ticket” as did the electric blue and the bright red. Beautiful or Functional

Two months later, the Subaru dealership called me and proudly announced that my beautiful new WRX had arrived. They would have it cleaned, detailed and ready for delivery the following Saturday. So, I hauled my poor wife out of bed bright and early that cloudy Saturday morning and off we went to the dealership. The car was in the dealership’s garage when we got in to drive it home. It was a gorgeous royal blue, and I was a happy man. We drove it around the countryside and then took it home and parked it in the garage, where I looked it over carefully. Perfection. Beautiful or Functional

Next morning, bright and early, I hauled my wife out of bed for a ride in the country. Those curvy Virginia country roads awaited. The sun shined brightly on our driveway when I backed my new mid-life-crisis toy out of the garage. My wife walked out the front door, locking it behind her. As she moved in the direction of my new toy, an evil grin appeared on her face. I took this as an omen of bad things to come, but I had no idea from where. Beautiful or Functional

I lowered the driver’s side window as she approached and said, “What?”

“John, I don’t quite know how to tell you this. But, you know how you chose the classy metal flaked royal blue paint? Well, with the bright sun shining directly on your new car…let’s just say, I hope you’ve come to like the color purple.”

If you like this blog post, you’ll probably also enjoy our new book MURDER BY ROAD TRIP, co-authored with my daughter. Our amateur P.I. has trouble with his car too.

Get the book on Amazon at Barnes&Noble at and Indie Books at

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