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House Rant.
by Steve Gross

As I look around, I can't help noticing (because I am a moderately observant type of person) that we of the generation formerly known as X appear to be aging. Not, of course, as much as the baby boomers, nor, characteristically, with nearly as much hype and overblown self-awareness, but, apparently, with run-on sentences clogged, unnecessarily I might add, with commas and dependent clauses coming out of our asses. Or something. Where was I again?

Oh yes. Aging. Are you now or have you ever been in the company of a mortgage broker? Have you spent more time recently in the back of a real estate agent's Oldsmobuick than in the back of a police car? In short, are you a New Homeowner? If so, my condolences, and please quit reading now. Trust me. It's too late for us to save ourselves. Our only hope lies with the young people.

The Great American Dream. Financed by Massive Long-Term Debt. Ever since you were a wee tot you were brought up to desire Home Ownership, and now here you are, you've been out of school for a few years now, all DINKy, pulling down those fat paychex from the Gap or Kelly Temps or Boston Fried McBurger Queen or wherever, and your parents are chomping at the bit to lend you that all-important down payment cash (and of course lie in writing to the bank that it's really a gift, not like TRW can't trace every stinking penny you circulate anyway so why bother, really, and besides, like you're really going to be able to pay them (your parents) back while you're laboring under the afore-mentioned Massive Crushing Long-Term Debt (to the bank), and they (your parents again) sure aren't going to sue you over it (the non-payment), so it's (the gift letter, try to keep up with me here) not such a lie after all), and you're on the fast track to being a Pillar of Society, a Real Property Owner, on the Tax Rolls, with a Permanent Address the same as your Current Address and the whole shootin' match.

STOP IT RIGHT NOW! I'm here to tell you that Home Ownership is a massive sham, designed to divert the collective suburban attention from reality. And, the amazing thing is, it works! No wonder mortgage interest is tax deductible. Buy a house, and suddenly concepts like Sweat Equity, Should I Refinance Now Given The Current Mortgage Rates Or Should I Wait Until Next Month, and The Quality of Life In The Micro-Neighborhood As It Relates To Resale Value start to loom large in your worldview, replacing previously important concepts such as How Can I Personally Save The Rainforest Through Consumerism, What The Hell Is Wrong With Those Loony Republocrats Anyway, and When Is The New Global Communications Album, Not Just Those Rotty Remixes But I Mean A Real Album, Going To Come Out, I Mean Sure The Remixes Are OK But Come On Guys, Put A Little Stick About.

Let's look at the situation rationally. What, exactly, is wrong with your apartment? Too small? Just pitch some of the junk that you never use. Buying a house is not the solution -- in a year, you'll be in the same boat all over again. Trust me on this one -- I bought a house almost exactly one year ago. Landlord too lazy to fix the toilet, which runs on and drives you crazy? Wake up, chum! If it was your house, you'd have to fix it yourself! Or call a plumber, which you could do right now anyway. Noisy neighbors? Hey, at least you can just pound on the wall. Buy a house, and you will have to trudge outside in -37 degree weather to yell at the neighbors. And by the way, his gas-powered leaf blower will be much louder than your current neighbor's boom box. Much, much louder. My image of Hell involves having one of these things strapped to your back for eternity, and it is eerily similar to the typical suburban compound in, say, October. Too expensive? Ha! You haven't even comprehended expensive until you've bought a house. Once you make this misstep, you rapidly will slip into preceding 4-digit monetary sums with the adjective "only." I'm serious. Ask the next homeowner you happen to see. Also, keep in mind that the baby boomer who owns that $150K suburban castle you're looking at paid $30K for it 15 years ago -- you will be funding his mid-life crisis when you should really be getting a headstart on your own.

Your vocabulary will start to degenerate. You will be unable to use the simple word "house." It will be replaced by the word "Home." You can just hear the capital "H" as it comes breathlessly tumbling out of a New Homeowner's mouth in phrases like "we just bought our first Home, it's so wonderful blah blah blah." Carefully note the word "first." After a few years, you'll be jonesing again for another one (see "too small" above). You'll suddenly start spouting terms like Capital Gains Tax, and Two-Year Rollover Residence Replacement Rule. Even worse, there is a very strong correlation between buying your second Home and subscribing to Martha Stewart's Living. Is this really how you want to spend your 30's, painting ping-pong balls red, impaling them on toothpicks, and making Judeo-Christian Peak Retail Season wreaths for all your friends, rather than, say, chucking it all and following your bliss as a member of the Hell's Angels MC? The members of this cult (I'm back to Martha now, please try to pay better attention) try to hide behind a thin veneer of irony, but simply having a copy of the Is Martha Stewart Living? parody magazine (which she probably wrote anyway) does not fool anybody. Beyond this point there be dragons. You have been warned.


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