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#79 Plastic Furniture Covers

Posted June 16th, 2008 by Peter · 22 Comments

It’s a known fact that Asians are very stingy about their belongings: money, children, right down to their choice of sauces to put on food. But have you ever wondered how Asians are able to keep their homes, and most importantly, furniture, free of filth for such a long time? It’s because Asians everywhere have discovered the joys of Plastic Furniture Covers.

Asians love plastic (see hoarding article). This love of plastic doesn’t just end in the produce aisle of an Asian Supermarket. It spans decades and generations of Asians that have had to live as frugally as possible in order to maintain their wealth. With that said, Asians wrap their furniture due to…

Hospitality: What’s practical about wrapping your furniture and not ever getting to experience that soft velvety satin brushing against that layer of clothing you have indirectly touching your bare bottom? Or the smell of fresh furniture in the morning. Or maybe.. well.. you get the point. The main reason Asians wrap their furniture is to share those feelings with their friends, family, and other loved ones. Asians never pass up having company over, and will save only the best for them. In fact, you’ll never see wrapped furniture in an Asian household if you’re invited. You can, however, stop by an Asian friend’s house in the wee hours of the night (around 4AM) to see their furniture in its truest form.

Asians also use “company” this time as an opportunity to ostentatiously flaunt that 55 inch plasma television or gaming system. They wouldn’t have all those possessions without a little…

Frugality: When Asians purchase their furniture, they are looking for a long term investment. They are also analyzing all the opportunity costs: hours spent by friends on couch, projected monthly dirt buildup, hours spent cleaning couch, and last but not least, resale value. Now we know that asians love having company over and saving only the best for these sparse occurrences. This doesn’t mean that asians can’t ever stop to ask, “How much can I get for this couch after it’s worn out?” Unfortunately, wrapping their furniture prevents this from occurring, which is something they realize only once they are old enough to have grandchildren. (or great grandchildren)

Posterity: Once asians realize that they can’t sell their pristine furniture, they market it to their children as antique heirlooms. “My mother got this from her mother, who got it from her mother, who won it in a game of Mah Jong.” Their children will in turn spend a great deal of time and effort preserving the furniture only until it in fact becomes a priceless piece of family history. We still haven’t gotten to the practical reasons for plastic furniture covers.

The most obvious reason for having them is keeping furniture clean. Enough Said. Some asians take it to a whole new level though. They will wrap their china, handphones, remotes, computers, and televisions to keep the dirt off. These asians have most likely survived harsh times like the Great Depression (or the onslaught of communism in their countries). The next time you see an Asian that has wrapped their furniture or other items, ask them about their lives. Where they came from, how their childhoods were. What they did for a living. If they comply, chances are that you will receive similar responses about economic hardships and difficulty providing for their families.

We can’t forget your reader responses: “We’ll take the plastic off when someone important visits.” says Anonymous. “The families I’ve known who were into plastics were working poor” says another. “Use it up, wear it out. Make it do –Or do without.” That’s how Asians view life. It’s very complex and full of “saving face” and impressing others. First impressions are very important. Asians must continue to wrap their furniture so that they can be hospitable, frugal, and charitable to their posterity in the future.

But let’s not lose focus. Sometimes life isn’t just plastic-wrapped furniture:
“One of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen was the small apartment of an Asian woman in Boston who had everything covered in plastic and lots of china figurines and gleaming things made of brass, everything spic and span
and in absolutely pristine shape. I think she was going for the Dynasty look. The woman worked three jobs, at least one at a hospital, to maintain this home and raise her two sons – one of whom had gotten in with a bad element at school and had just killed someone. Even through her shock and pain and the utter destruction of her life, she was gracious to the stranger who showed up to ask her questions. And I thought about how hard she worked to make everything perfect, and how you can’t put plastic on the world.” -CunningLinguist

Seeing my father work so hard has made me realize something: We are so fortunate to be living in such a prosperous and open-minded country. This Father’s Day: After you read this post, take a look back at your life and how much more well off you are than an Asian (or any other person) in a third world country. They would die to be in your position, literally.

This is Peter Nguyen, posting live from his computer desk. We’ll be back tomorrow at 5.

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22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 YvesPaul // Jun 17, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Ah, this brings back fond memory of the plastic smell of our black leather couch and how uncomfortable I was when it’s hot and humid and have my skin stuck to the plastic due to sweat. lol

  • 2 Toby // Jun 17, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Our family never plastic wrapped furniture, though we did it to our dining table once. And we wrap our TV remotes!

  • 3 Dulce // Jun 18, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    yupp my parents did this and still do as matter of fact! ive gotten used to it actually so when i go to a friends house.. i savour sitting on their couch ! loll

  • 4 Maggie // Jun 19, 2008 at 2:29 am

    Hahaha… we only wrap our tv remotes too and it was only recently that I have met another fellow asian that I have actually like realized this and why we do it lol.

  • 5 solong2010 // Jun 22, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Haha, nice one Peter. When I was younger my parents would always buy covers for the couches and everything so I grew up thinking it was what every house did. I was wrong T__T Now my parents put a cover on our couches, but not our leather couch (thank god). Our remotes are wrapped and my friends wonder who the heck does that. My dad always keeps that plastic protector thing that you’re supposed to tear off on all of his electronics. Funny Asians =)

  • 6 spacebunny // Aug 21, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Solong2010′s dad must have gone to the same school as my mother because she too leaves the plastic protector on new electronics. Out of frustration, I once removed the plastic on her dining room chairs and she paid $100 to have new plastic put on them. In her first house, my mother used ugly plastic “rugs” to protect the carpet; it was so annoying to vacuum that even she couldn’t stand it anymore so she removed the rugs (these abadoned area rugs are among the many things still packrat’ed away in the garage).

  • 7 D // Aug 21, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    We never had plastic on our furniture but my mom liked to leave the plastic covers on the LCD screens of electronics.

    I also heard of a family who ate in the dark to save $$ on electricity. They also have a big screen tv.

  • 8 Anonymous // Nov 17, 2008 at 2:41 am

    That’s an Italian thing!

  • 9 kris // Nov 23, 2008 at 2:54 am

    yea, we wrapped our t.v. remotes. my mom has couches she bought when i was very little in mid 80′s. I’ve never seen it without the covers in my life, only once or twice. It is fur brown and if you remove the covers it looks just a month or two old.

  • 10 dbals // Dec 8, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    To Asians, the sheer price spent on buying the thing is a measure of economic success in their life, and hence, maintain it to last a life time. If things take a wrong direction, in life, you can always count on selling the thing for a good price.

  • 11 Miss Nee // Feb 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Hey now! Im black. We like those too! lol!

  • 12 Lyn not LIN! // Jul 3, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    but even plastic wrap can’t keep a couch firm and in shape. My fiance’s dad re stuft his couch and pillows to make sure they would seem new. I got this great idea from him that i now use. Not plastic, but fleece decorative blankets/throws. Easy to wash, and all you have to do is wrap them around all the cushions and get a cheap couch cover for the rest of the couch. You can’t tell that I got my couches at thriftstores, because they are so soft, fun and funky! I use animal prints to do this. My remotes are not wrapped, i refuse to do this even though my remote is kinda gross.
    My fiance wont take off the plastic covers on electronics… but he has me to rip them off! muhahaha!

  • 13 #121 Having Nice Things and Not Using Them « Stuff Asian People Like - Asian Central // Jul 3, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    [...] this can manifest itself in many ways (#79 Plastic Furniture Covers for example), none is more pronounced than Asians’ automobile habits.  Whereas most people [...]

  • 14 pablo // Aug 24, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Whack. That’s more of a Mexican thing… well more of a \can’t ruin these couches cause i rent them\ kind of thing. This is coming from a Mexican/Japanese. Its tough to group Asians o very similar things, besides rice and marrying white males.

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  • 17 links london // Mar 21, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Good to hear that you are back to blogging. I am looking forward to some good article.

  • 18 ilovehorseyrides // Jun 9, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    My family also keeps remotes in plastic wrap

  • 19 ilovehorseyrides // Aug 16, 2015 at 11:06 am

    My mom also wraps the refrigerator/freezer handles!!!

  • 20 jagjeet // Sep 3, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    I Read this post very carefully.I have like , live style of Asian people. Asian people live in very good manner.thanks for sharing it.

  • 21 ilovehorseyrides // Sep 27, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    My parents not only keep the wrap on our TV and keep plastic wrap on the TV remote, my mom also puts plastic wrap on the refrigerator handles!!!!

  • 22 Jenny // Apr 1, 2017 at 5:53 am

    I wrap all my laptop and my mouse in non-porous off-brand ‘saran’ wrap – it keeps them clean, I don’t have to clean between the keys.

    I don’t need plastics on my furniture because I actually use IKEA’s outdoor furniture line that is easy to clean! Get a Skarpo armchair if your local store have it, try it out, it’s super comfortable even without any cushion – it does take up a lot of floor space, and you’ll probably need a car to get it home.

    Decorate with laminated posters and photographs instead of figurines, I don’t even bother with frames. Pick a sleek silver goosenecked Lersta stand lamp over the unwieldy lampshade.

    White chairs, white tables, silver lamps, goes great with floral posters and floral print cushions.

    Super Cheap Chinese Saving Tip: Calendars often go on a firesale after Jan, and some of them have really pretty large pictures – of course, you can reuse old calendars too.

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