Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Hey Millionaires! Tacoma needs you.

Yours truly naturally finds himself with some bleeding-heart tendences. After all, at twenty-nine, he has grown up in a generation in which the rich have gotten richer, but the average worker has grown … more average

Being if anything closer to the latter, he of course wonders if this is fair, right, and just.

Yet today, Tacoma needs a millionaire to help himself.

Have a look at this stately old home, would you? It’s for sale in my town. Perhaps Jay Gatsby would’ve turned up his nose at merely ten thousand square feet, but, ten thousand! The place is full of beauty, art, and history. It must be saved, preserved – the whole of human experience is bettered by the existence of places like this.

(neither the author nor anyone he knows has any involvement in or gain, financial or otherwise, to be made from the property referenced above)

Yet, it is five times the size of, and a greater multiple in price than, my own humble abode. Never in my wildest dreams could I afford such a residence, nor, to be honest, would I want to, solo. This DIY die-hard would be utterly drowned by projects – trim painting, glazing, recaulking, tuck-pointing, would overcome my life. Who would maintain the garden on its half-acre lot? Who would polish the marble and clean the flues of the six fireplaces?

And, yet, somebody must. One would suspect, when the place went up – especially in an age before power tools, let alone Swiffers and roombas – that such menial tasks would’ve been performed by the help, and I suppose if given the chance I wouldn’t much mind being the painter and groundskeeper here, if it meant I could call it home and come and go as I pleased.

Take a look at the real-estate listing for the place. It’s fantastic. They do not, as the expression truthfully tells, make them like they used to.

As I turned it about in my head, I briefly thought of an amusing idea: what if there were half a dozen similarly minded people as myself*? After all, the house boasts eight bedrooms. There’s plenty of space for everyone, and we could all share the views out that fabulous parlor as we shared a drink and a word. We’d each pay no more than the price of a fairly average apartment!

* No, gentle reader, these thoughts are by no means serious. There is no means readily available to execute them, anyway.

The thought experiment, though, quickly ends in the failure similar to that known as the tragedy of the commons, otherwise known as “why everyone beats the living tar out of rental cars.”

What I don't understand is why this should be. Sure, I've know a few groups of people who all collectively run a household. But, these are largely young folks just getting started in their lives, and a central aspect of these group homes is that nobody lives there permanently -- everyone is a renting tenant, and an absentee owner uses the place as a source of income.

Capitalismus victor!

I think of this as I look around the city streets in my new hometown, and think of things like "pride of ownership." Neighbor A, for instance, is a middle-class homeowner not too different from yours truly. He has a lawnmower and a slightly larger-than-average urban lot. Mine is quite small.

Today, without anyone saying anything, he mowed both of our lawns. I followed behind with shears and a push broom and trimmed the parts that the power mower could not get to, and swept and gathered the trimmings. Job done, and probably swifter than if each of us had both of those tools to manage our own lots and nobody else's.

An interesting microcosm for a superficial task, perhaps.

But, clearly, I am missing something. Otherwise, why would society be building tracts of uninspiring, cookie-cutter homes when there are places like this around? I have no simple conclusions, but, it is food for thought.

As for Gatsby?

Hello, there, wrecking ball!


  • At 10:16 AM , Blogger Argentius said...

    And yes, gentle reader, I always mention Neighbor A as a contrast to neighbor B. These are rental tenants -- who I believe receive a subsidy to boot -- and fit a few stereotypes to the T. Among them are four lawnmowers in the yard, none of which properly work.

    A window fell out of their upper storey last week to shatter on the grass between our houses. Note, the window was not broken by an object, it simply fell out for lack of maintenance. Glazing? What's that?

  • At 9:52 PM , Anonymous Frances said...

    Aside from extravagant houses like these, there are also some branded used cars for sale by owner which still work like they're brand new. You just need to check the history of the car you're planning to purchase.


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