Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
OUR HOUSE IS STUFFED WITH STUFF
My family does not like our house anymore. We’ve been living here for over fifteen years and we’re sick of the place. My wife doesn’t like the fact that the washer and dryer are down in the basement, and to do an average day’s amount of laundry (19 loads) she does more stair-climbing than the entire membership of a fancy health club. Also, she doesn’t like the fact that the house no longer has enough space to hold all her stuff.
My oldest daughter is unhappy because the house does not have a three-car garage with a brand new BMW sitting in the third bay with her name on it. (On her sixteenth birthday I told her I gladly would’ve bought her the car, but it isn’t proper to park a temperamental sports car outside in the driveway overnight, so she’ll have to wait.) Also, she doesn’t like the fact that the house no longer has enough space to hold all her stuff.
My younger daughter is unhappy because the house does not have an Olympic-sized swimming pool—indoors—nor a big-screen TV in her bedroom. Also, she doesn’t like the fact that the house no longer has enough space to hold all her stuff.
I don’t like our house anymore because it came with a yard. I’m forced to mow the lawn once a month in the summer, shovel the driveway every other snowstorm in the winter, and give the hedges a trim each Leap Year or so. It’s no fun. Plus, the house no longer has enough space to hold all my stuff.
It seem the primary source of our discontent is the “stuff factor.” There’s simply no place to put anything anymore. The closets are jam-packed; the basement and attic are full; and the two-car garage has been unable to host two vehicles overnight since about 30 minutes after we moved in. (Which is OK since I can’t afford a temperamental sports car anyway—don’t tell my daughter—and my beat-up old Honda Civic thinks that rust is a good thing.)
When you stand across the street and look carefully at our house, you can see the roofline and the windows pulsating outward, straining under the pressure of all the excess stuff. I’m afraid that some night in the near future my neighbors will be awakened by a loud boom, and in the morning they’ll find their yards strewn with assorted clothing, boxes, books, furniture, and electronic appliances.
Before we bought this place, we lived in a tiny cottage by the shore with no attic, no basement, and no garage. By comparison, our new house in Torrington was an airplane hangar. The real estate agent said we were going from 900 square feet to 1800 square feet. “Square feet” is one of those mysterious real estate terms, like “points,” which few people understand. (What’s the deal with points, anyway? We’re forced to pay the bank extra money for the privilege of giving them half our income each month for the rest of our lives? Why don’t they just be honest about it and stick a gun in our ribs and grab our wallets?)
If I remember correctly, the term “square feet” refers to the number of minutes it takes before you trip over something in your new home because there’s no more room in the closets. With our new house, it took exactly 1800 minutes (or in metric, 30 hexameters) for me to trip over one of my younger daughter’s toys—which was pretty amazing since at the time she had yet to be born.
There are two solutions to my family’s “stuff” problem. First, we could sell our home and move into a larger place. But this would only be a temporary answer since it’s a known fact that clothing and furniture will mysteriously multiply to fill all available space. Even if we moved into a completely empty Buckingham Palace, within a month I’d be tripping over boxes in the hallway and the 30-car garage would be so filled with snow shovels, weed wackers, bicycles, lawn chairs, and Christmas decorations, I’d still have to leave my Civic out in the driveway overnight.
The other solution is much less expensive than taking out a mortgage on Buckingham Palace (where the points alone would be more than the credit limit on Bill Gates’ VISA card). All we need to do is throw away the items we don’t need. Easier said than done. The Torrington Savings Bank will approve my Buckingham Palace mortgage application long before anyone in my family willingly parts with a single piece of precious stuff. I’d better call the Queen and see if she wants to sell.
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