Monday, March 1, 2010

Our Very Own Smart House

My husband and I were a little late to the home-buying party. Specifically, we were both forty when we could finally, kind of, sort of, if we stopped feeding the kids, afford to buy a house. And so we did. We took everything we had, quite of bit of what other people had, a lot of what the government promised, and we bought a house. I wish we hadn't. The list of things I'm not allowed to buy anymore is overwhelming in its detail and its scope. It starts with clothes, and haircuts, and ends in the emergency room. I do have enough premium denim to last me a good solid year and with spring on the way I can count on mother nature to help me in the highlights department. I'm not looking for sympathy on those accounts. This weekend I cut fourteen year old Victoria's hair (she only cried for a few hours), and I now buzz the boys myself.

But it gets worse. "No more fast food," my husband informed me. "Even when I'm running kids between two/three/four different athletic events?" I whined. "Nope," he said, "plan ahead." Damn. Okay, fast food is bad for the kids anyway and if I can't slap together a few PB and J sandwiches at this point in my career, I can't really call myself a mother. Fine. I'll live.

Now I realize reader, that if you've stayed with me this far, you're beginning to be disgusted. "This woman is a baby," you're thinking. "Fast food and premium demin?" you're muttering to yourself. "There are some folks in Haiti I'd like to introduce her to." Yes, yes, I know. I myself am somewhat embarrassed. But two things, reader, two things. First, it gets worse. Stay with me. Second, and you're not going to like this, but I challenge you to give your spending a once over and see how you rate. Alright, I'm not going to push. I'm just saying. . . People spend thousands on quack nutritionists and I don't see anyone attacking them. Apparently, paying some weirdo to diagnose imaginary digestive problems is fine, but wanting to look your best in the latest fashions is hedonistic.

Anyway, when we still couldn't make ends meet with the peanut butter and jelly, my husband informed me, by way of turing off my reading light, that we'd be giving up electricity. "What?" I bellowed. "We already gave up television." We literally threw it away. "I am the only mother ANYWHERE in America who doesn't own a cell phone, and now I have to give up reading!" "Just for a year or so." He said, "until my income increases." "Well. . . shit." I said to the dark form next to me. "And don't even think about asking me for sex."

In the morning, by way of natural light, I resumed my reading. Now, it's like living in Bill Gate's opposite world. I read somewhere that his house is so smart that as his lovely wife, Melinda, moves from room to room, her music, lighting, and television move from room to room with her. Not only is my house not as smart as Bill Gates', neither is my husband. First, he doesn't wait until I leave a room to turn off the light, preferring, instead, to flip the switch in anticipation of my leaving the room at some theoretical time in the future. "I'm tying my shoes!" I scream from behind the wardrobe, only to hear back, "Wear slip-ons." But last night we reached an apex, and I think I made my point. As I was cautiously feeling my way down a pitch-black hallway, I stumbled over a folded mat and went ass over tea-kettle, landing, as it were, on my tea-kettle. "Mother of God!" I screamed, "This has to stop." Rob and the kids, all seven of them, felt their way through their various dark rooms until they found me in the hallway, swearing and rubbing my head. Risking foreclosure, Rob turned on the light and helped me up. "The idea," he said, "is that you turn on the light when you enter a room, and turn it off when you leave." "The math is really very simple," he continued.
"Yes, it is." I said. "Even a straight-forward divorce is expensive, but one complicated by negligent injury claims could cost you the house." And then, of course, because he's such a good man, and takes such good care of our family, I apologized, turned off the light and lightly kissed him while the kids all yelled "EEEwwwww."

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