HomeWrecker

homewrecker
"This world will end with neither fire nor ice, but more likely with a whimper …"

The classic image of some blond bombshell as HomeWrecker overlooks a more present threat, the humble homeowner. More homes seem to have been wrecked by the well-intended improvements undertaken by homeowners than families have been laid low by scheming femme fatales or conniving gigolos. Something about owning a home seems to convince a homeowner that he possesses skills he never once demonstrated and never will manifest. He's likely at some point during his possession to become possessed by the painting jinn or worse, the wallpaper demon. Neither he nor his spouse exhibit any true talent for interior design, but the DIY videos proliferating The Home Despot's site materially underplay the difficulties of even the most daunting improvement. A dreary browsing Sunday seems to be enough to spark that dark urge which seems to spring eternal from the breast of even the most otherwise rational homeowner.

A gallon of paint nestled in the corner of the sale bin might be enough to start a long and painful descent into the netherworld of home wrecking.
Sure, the color's not quite what either of you had envisioned, but half off seems like too good a deal to pass up. Of course you have not yet measured the space to be covered, a task which, once completed, will show that two gallons of paint will be needed. That second gallon will not be on sale until sometimes in the middle of the next century and you'll gladly fork out the premium just to get this "improvement" behind you. Then, you'll be the somewhat less proud owner of a room with a definite phew, two coats (that sale paint didn't cover worth crap) of off-color, clearly sale paint which matches nothing you presently own. The downward descent will have well and clearly started by then and there will be no escape.

The rest of the place will look a little off by then and the spouse will propose some follow-on improvement, perhaps some woodwork work, a simple scrape and repaint to match the fresh color. Refinishing woodwork requires a master's touch and more tools than you ever suspected existed, facts which will slowly come into focus as frustration subsumes initial optimism. Success might come, but only following six long months of evenings and weekends spent stacking angels on the head of a once seemingly pristine pin, but there's no going back. Now that fresh wall color features some gouging along the perimeter which will prompt the dedicated homeowner to learn the fine and obsolete art of patching horsehair-bonded plaster, a messy as well as iffy proposition because no one alive remembers how to actually do that and the hardware store only stocks futuristic dry wall tools and materials.

Increment by tiny increment, each fresh aspiration will produce opportunities to create stories which explain away obvious shortcomings. Over time, the place becomes a physical fiction, a true self-portrait, which not even the by then beleaguered homeowner really believes any more. Self esteem, which periodically peaked during successive Bright Idea! stages, will have been properly contained, replaced with a budding and probably permanent humility. The homeowner demonstrates equal ineptness with the exterior of the place, following clear demonstration that he's neither housepainter nor landscaper. The place evolves into his own version of The Winchester Mystery House. The next owner, who might buy based upon the same sort of intuition which prompted the current homeowner's purchase of that first deadly gallon of paint, will inherit every sin, only slowly realizing the depth of his initial delusion.

Homes become like pets over time, perfectly reflecting their owner's habits. Of course, the pet owner denies this simple fact, like the HomeWrecker homeowner denies that he's undermined his primary investment. Our world runs on self-delusion. It gets us up every morning and propels us through every day. We believe ourselves capable of much and refuse to believe that we often fall short. This world will end with neither fire nor ice, but more likely with a whimper, humbled into submission through the tenacious application of good intentions with tools especially purchased and uniquely unsuited for the job. Fortunately, we hold the power to periodically move away and take up the same futile but energizing dance somewhere else. 'Twas always thus, I suspect.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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