Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30. Houses

Truth be told, I wasn’t bothering a soul, just sitting on a bench enjoying the last day of November and watching the renovation of an old railroad bridge that spans the Arkansas River. They were renovating it for pedestrian use. I was thinking how nice it is for old things to be re-used when a rather handsome blonde-haired lady in her late 30s walked up. She looked like an ad for L.L. Bean, complete with a sweater that announced “I love my Yorkie.”

“May I sit?” she asked.

I nodded at the empty portion of the bench and scooted as far as I could to the other edge.

“I’m just pooped from holiday shopping and need to take a break,” she said as she sat. “I’ve been at it since four A.M. on ‘Black Friday.’”

I nodded as if I had any idea.

She sat quietly for a few minutes before turning to me as if she had just received some hidden radio transmission.

“I’ll bet my house is bigger than your house,” she said.

“I beg your pardon?”

“And better too. Mr. Donald designed the interior.”

“How nice.”

“My husband wants to get an even bigger one after our next child.”

I started to rise when she began to giggle.

It was C.W.

“You little prick,” I observed.

“Had you going, didn’t I?”

“Oh yes. Ruined my day completely.”

“But tell me,” he said. “What is with these big gaudy houses that Americans love so much? They even plan TV shows around them. Isn’t it a bit wasteful for a family of four to live in four thousand square foot structure when so many have none?”

“I dunno. Some form of ego compensation? Why do you ask me? I don’t have one.

The figure spoke. “Well, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe some day you’ll be as well off as we are and you can afford a decent home.”

“I have a decent home,” I started to say and then realized I was speaking to an alien, a smart-assed one at that. “Don’t you have something to do?” I said.

“Well, I am scheduled for a pedicure later this morning but I thought I would come downtown and see what it is about this ghastly place that attracts people. It’s so old here, and the houses are so small.”

“Perhaps the people who live here don’t rely upon the size and décor of their home to complete their raison d’être.”

“Their what?”
Houses like this were fine for your Greatest Generation.
Why not for this generation? - C.W.

“Forget it,” I said. “Didn’t you say you had something to do?”

“Well, I do have to pick up my maid, oops—they taught me at Women’s Club to call her ‘my friend.’ Sorry.”

“Say goodnight Gracie.”

“Goodnight, Jimbo.”

“Goddamit. Don’t call me that.”

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