They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but that’s crap. The road to hell is paved with coffee table books.
Like you, I’m a 21st century American woman, the progeny of baby boomers, a generation who according to Stephen King could have changed the world, but instead invented the Home Shopping Network. I was born to shop. I’ve spent my entire life and most of my money on furniture, décor, bric-a-brac, trinkets, novelty items, souvenirs, ingenious kitchen gadgets likea turbo-charged melon baller and propane-powered pastry bag, fake plants, live plants (Well live plants with a death wish. Look out for a post on why my house might be designated Plant Hospice by the American Horticultural Society) and way too many coffee table books.
No one ever reads coffee table books. Their only purpose is to sit still, look pretty, and spread wide if a guest shows the faintest interest. They’re the whores of home ownership. It’s my job to lay them out and make sure they’re clean enough for strangers to touch, and that’s why I’m in hell. I’m the damned whoremaster. But no more!
Let me explain
For the past few weeks, I’ve been bingeing on late night TV, mostly reruns of Hoarders: Buried Alive and my newest obsession, Tiny House Nation.
Hoarders has been around for a while. I’m sure you’re familiar. Crazy people in filthy houses-- filthy as in I-found-your-dead-cat-stuffed-behind-the rotting-feces-laden-fridge-- on the verge of being condemned who reply to the cat news with statements like: Don’t throw out that body. I need it for the dead cat quilt I’m planning to make.
But Tiny House Nation is new and it’s a small-screen revelation, crazier than Dating Naked, and requiring way bigger balls. People, like full-size grown people with kids and jobs and pets, build a 150 square foot “house”—for the mathematically challenged that’s a 10’ x 15’ room—throw away 90% of their belongings, 100 % of their privacy, and then LIVE IN THE DAMN THING!!!
So crazy, but it got me thinking about my situation…
Pretty, big, and a little nauseating
I live in a pretty big house on a pretty big piece of property. And well…it’s pretty… and big. But do I really need all this?
I mean we only range from 4 to 6 feet tall. We’re just not that big. And we gave up all the big, space-eating hobbies years ago-- yurt construction, mechanical bull riding, and combine demolition derby.
Plus we’ve been together since we were teenagers and still, nauseatingly enough, do that obsessive romantic Bella-and-Edward-always-have-to-be-touching-each-other-thing. Every night, I watch TV in my husband’s lap. The two of us take up no more than 18 inches on the corner of an eight-foot sofa in a 576 square foot room with 3 club chairs, 4 (count ‘em!) coffee tables (stacked with coffee table books), 2 ladder-back chairs, 3 barstools, and 1 ottoman. That’s a lot for two people who sit on top of each other and two kids who prefer the floor.
Surrounding the big house we have a big lawn. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. We’re not farmers. We don’t have any animals to graze. (Notthat you could with the cocktail ChemLawn uses. We’d probably end up with 9-headed sheep, but I digress.) The point is all we’ve ever done with our big lawn is look at it… ‘cause, you know, it’s pretty.
“But what about the children?” you say, sounding eerily like my mother-in-law. “They need to run, play, be free.”
I agree, but they prefer the park because it’s got other kids. Not to mention the endless bike paths, the acre of state-of-the-art playground equipment, soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts, baseball diamonds, and a duck pond. All we have at our house is unnaturally green grass that may or may not cause birth defects in sheep.
“Slow down, Sweetie,” you say, this time sounding more like my mother. “It’s pretty.”
Ok, but what’s my house going to do with its good looks? Attract another house filled with crap, get married, and have baby houses filled with more crap? Isn’t that what spawned mobile parks? That’s just taking the lid off.
The road back
In Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (What? I channel-surf during commercials.), there’s a scene where a father tells his troubled adult daughter about hell and the good intentions crap.
When she demands, “What about the road back? What’s that paved with?” he sagely tells her, “Humility.” And with that, she begins to let go of her baggage.
It’s a pivotal scene and I love James Garner (I’d follow him and his nifty notebook anywhere), but I’m afraid humility just isn’t going to cut it this time. I need something with a little more kick to wipe this big-ass slate clean.
The latex gloves are on. The dumpster is here. And the Salvation Army has been called. It’s time to dump the hoard (starting with the slutty coffee table books in the middle of my big carcinogenic lawn), dowse it with holy water, recycling stickers, or gasoline—whatever’s handy—and just let it go.
I wonder if a 6’ x 9’ cell counts as a tiny house. They let you blog in prison, right?
Christen Fisher was a teenage beauty queen who ran away to college with only a sash across her chest and a tiara on her head. After four years, she traded in her small-town spoils for a B.A. in English and a ring from a big city guy who loved her more for what lay under her tiara than her sash.