A Mostly Fractured Take On Current Events

I Deferred The American Dream and Got Lousy Music Instead

In Essays on March 16, 2011 at 12:44 am

Back in 2007, I came close to buying a house. Unfortunately, certain financial inequities prevented this from happening. This is a fancy way of saying that I was too poor. Also, my bank would only approve me for a starter Winnebago. I’m glad that I didn’t make that purchase because the housing bubble collapsed shortly after. It turned out to be one of the best non-investments I ever made. The other was not buying a ticket to “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Regardless, owning a home still forms a large part of the “American Dream.” And for this reason, I desire to be a homeowner someday.

Purchasing a house is one of the most critical decisions a person will ever make. It’s almost as important as what you put on your Facebook status. But few people are buying homes because of the economy.  The headlines of the day confirm this. Foreclosures now occur with greater frequency than blinking. And in five years there’s a good chance your house will be worth less than your wristwatch. So in these conditions, how do we get people to purchase homes? The answer is simple. There is no greater incentive for someone to buy a home than to have them live in an apartment for a year. The experience will leave them begging for a 30-year mortgage.

My first experience with apartments began long before I ever rented one. The T.V. show “Three’s Company” taught me that as a man, I was entitled to live in an apartment with two hot women and experience hijinks on a daily basis. However, the truth turned out to be far different. When I was old enough to rent, two squirrels got trapped in the attic of my first apartment and died there. Discovering that your roommates were two dead rodents and not Janet and Chrissie was disheartening.

Maybe dying squirrels was an aberration. I should have accentuated the positive. After all, renters share apartment life together as a close-knit community. We also share walls. Although sometimes I think we don’t share walls as much as thin strands of paper mache. Every morning, whether I ask for it or not, I’m treated to an exclusive performance of my neighbor’s I-pod. His entire musical library consists of a single album: “The Best of Annoying Club Music.”  You know, there are millions of Beatles fans in the world. Why can’t I live next to one of them instead?

At this point, I’m just looking for any reason to flee. It comes in the form of fine print in my lease. Apparently, I’m now required to purchase renter’s insurance to protect my valuables. On the surface, this makes perfect sense. It’s widely known that most renters own original Van Gogh paintings. Not having them protected is just poor planning on their part. My possessions are a little less impressive. The most expensive thing I own is probably a fake Ficus tree. Losing that in a fire would be devastating. But I think I would recover. Eventually.

I’m convinced that if owning a home is the “American Dream”, then renting an apartment causes narcolepsy. For when I think back to my apartment experiences, all I want to do is drift asleep and forget any of it happened. Remember, there’s a reason toy maker Mattel sells “Barbie’s Dream House” and not “Barbie’s Drafty, Rent-Controlled Apartment.” And it has something to do with the fact that Barbies and squirrels make poor roommates.

© 2011 Pat Hester


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