'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
JUST CALL HIM JOE CONDO
My wife works with a guy who recently sold his house and moved into one of those condominium developments for people age 55 and older. Before moving, this man gave away all his rakes, shovels, hedge clippers, wheelbarrow, snow-blower, lawn mower, and every other yard maintenance tool in his garage. He did that because he will never, ever need to use any of those items again. And all I can say is: “I am SOOOOO jealous!!”
A great philosopher once said, “Know thyself.” (I think it was Mr. Magoo.) After being a homeowner for over two decades now, I can say with complete certainty that I know myself: I am Joe Condo.
When my wife and I bought our first house in the early 1980s, I distinctly do not recall any of the lawyers at our mortgage closing telling me: “You are now responsible for mowing the lawn, trimming the trees, shoveling the snow, painting the house, raking the leaves, cleaning the gutters, and 748 other routine maintenance tasks. Fortunately your house was built recently. Otherwise, the list of routine maintenance tasks would exceed 7,000 items.”
Maybe this maintenance clause was included somewhere in the closing documents, possibly on page 8 billion-and-two. The next person who actually reads every word of his closing documents will be the FIRST person to actually read every word of his closing documents. All I remember about our closing is that I got a cramp in my wrist from signing my name so often and afterward the lawyers needed a pickup truck to haul away all the paperwork.
It’s not that I thought someone else would do all those maintenance tasks, it’s just that I never thought about it at all. (Kind of like when I was a kid and never gave any thought to how the food appeared on our kitchen table three times each day. I never realized my mother had to buy it, prepare it, serve it, and clean up after we ran back into the living room to watch Batman on TV. It’s remarkable how a person can develop a high level of obliviousness if he really works at it.)
Anyway, after all these years of having to mow, rake, shovel, clip, paint, etc., I am soooo ready to live in a condominium. Even though I don’t yet qualify for the age requirement at one of those semi-senior developments, I’d be happy to jump ahead 7 years in age right now, because never having to mow or shovel or rake again will easily add another 20 years to my life expectancy.
There is one major problem however. As far as I can figure, moving into a condo requires that we, well, MOVE. And moving means going through another mortgage closing, which will knock 10 years off my life expectancy. Moving also means that in order to get our current home ready to be put on the market and sold, I’ll have to do more house and yard maintenance tasks than ever before. This will knock off at least another 15 years.
The life expectancy equation doesn’t add up. Living in a condo will add 20 years, but just getting into that condo will subtract 25 years.
So I guess for the foreseeable future we’ll be staying put. I’ll just have to continue shoveling the snow from our driveway each and every morning before work, and continue mowing the lawn each and every evening when I come home from work. (Yes, at my house the driveway gets filled with snow every single night—even in the summer—and the grass grows so fast I have to mow it every single evening—even in the winter. Well, OK, maybe it just seems that way.)
And each day as I’m out there struggling to keep up with all the yard maintenance chores, I’ll be thinking about my wife’s co-worker and saying, “I am SOOOOO jealous!!”
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