Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home is Where the Crud Is

DISCLAIMER: I did not draw this drawing, although it is reminiscent of my work.

What, exactly, is “home”? Such a question must be addressed from a philosophical standpoint. For example, if we turn to the great philosophical work Beauty and the Beast, the Disney Broadway musical, we learn that home is where the heart is. This is really pretty disconcerting when you consider that the heart is located (not to brag, but I personally underwent several grueling seconds of research during which I looked this up on Wikipedia) “anterior to the vertebral column and posterior to the sternum.”  Frankly, this seems like a pretty lousy location for home, although God knows a good realtor would work with it (“Posterior to the sternum! Convenient to shopping!”).

Let us also consider an alternative definition proffered by another font of philosophical wisdom: Cool Whip commercials. I recall many a childhood afternoon spent edifying myself in front of the Game Show Network*, during which time I learned the useful lesson that home, as defined by the Cool Whip Co., is where you and your carefully interracial family boogie around, grinning maniacally, while eating a CRAP TON of Cool Whip.  These commercials are designed to evoke a simpler time when people were stupid.

For my part, I should like to propose my own, alternative definition of home. Home, to me, is – and forgive my sentimentality, but I mean this from the bottom of my heart – the place where you are most comfortable living in your own filth. Example A is my personal home, the floor of which consistently features such a prodigious volume of shed skin cells, hair, dust, etc. – basically every variety of what the scientific community calls “personal crud” – that I could not possibly have produced it all myself.  To wit: at any given moment, you could take the skin cells on my floor and (if you were so disposed) create three life-size replicas of me, Madame Tussaud’s-style. 

I can hear you now. “But Nicola,” you are saying, probably mispronouncing my name, “the answer is simple. You need to clean your home.”  Well.  Now excuse me while I laugh so hard I cough up my uvula.  Because in fact, I clean my home every day. Such measly actions are no match for the Dark Forces behind Home Crud, an essence which does as it pleases. Every day, I sweep in the morning and then leave, whereupon my floor – cackling softly to itself – goes ahead and spawns itself a fresh new supply of crud, which greets me in the evening. Such is the daily routine around here, although granted sometimes there are variations, such as when the floor crud gets bored during the day and decides to arrange itself, for my return, in a perfect 1/1000th-scale replica of the Grand Tetons, or the Parthenon, or Eleanor Roosevelt.  I should start charging admission.

So, why? Why any of this? What is it about home that keeps it eternally crud-laden? My answer: a real home renders its dweller so completely, lethargically unmotivated that any sort of home maintenance becomes scientifically impossible – on a par with immortality, or time travel, or ever making contact with the Next Available Representative of my cellular phone company.  It’s not that you, the home-dweller, don’t care; it’s that eventually, you will give up.  (Write this down, children.)  No matter how the hell neat you innately are, the Dark Forces of Home Crud will swiftly render you unable to do anything more active than look at Facebook while scratching yourself, except on those occasions when this seems like too much woooork. This, my friends, is the difference between a house and a home.  In philosophy circles it is known as the Theory of Blahhhhh.**

The Theory of Blahhhh explains everything. It explains why you leave your crap in Atlas Van Lines boxes sixteen years after moving into your home, even though you told yourself again and again, “I’m unpacking this stuff TOMORROW.” Possibly you kept this up for as long as a week (the Theory of Blahhhh gets its hooks in fast).  But let us not forget: according to the Theory, the extent to which you neglect your home is directly proportional to the contentment you feel living there. So this is a good thing! See? Or the alternative possibility is that you are a lazy bastard.  Or it could even be a combination of the two.

This is why, when house-hunting, I’ve never really understood why people try to pretty up their houses so you’ll buy them. I mean, sure, it looks nice, but if we go by the Theory of Blahhhh, the true house-hunter – the one who seeks not a house but a home – will go for the crud-ridden house, every time.  (TIP FOR SELLERS: For maximum “homey” effect, leave your stuff in the house even after the buyer moves in, and for good measure, leave unnecessary family members there too. Talk about your “win-win.”) 

Of course home is more than just crud. There are secondary elements, too, such as family.  Some people actually go so far as to equate home with family, which I find troubling, in that it supposes you like your family.***  I mean, I don’t know your family, but they could be hideous, right? The ultimate home, for you, might be located in a place very far from the bosom of your family, such as Alpha Centauri.  And speaking of such things: what does that even MEAN, the “bosom” of your family? Is it just me, or is there something about that expression that would test the gag reflex of even the icky-cutest Cabbage Patch Kid? No; quintessential family moments, for me, are bosom-free. On the contrary, I believe such moments consist of having loud and passionate dinner-table arguments about issues such as television series, sometimes to the point that you are just about to kill each other with forks, but – and here goes my sentimental side kicking in again – never to the point that you actually do.  And nary a bosom in sight.

One final aspect of what makes a home (and, once again, call me a softie, but this is the one I feel the most deeply): home is where you’re comfortable reading on the toilet. Sadly, I myself have never managed to get comfortable with this one, because, I mean, what if you have a heart attack and die on the toilet? Do you want your Eternal Legacy to be that you were found with your pants around your ankles reading Cosmo? (“But why,” you are asking me, “would your pants be reading Cosmo around your ankles?”  Good point. I tried to ask them the same, but they were lost in an article about How to Make Him Moan.)

But above all, home is the place where you're most comfortable being yourself. So, read issues of Cosmo on the toilet.  So, embrace the ever-mounting crud formations on your floor, even when they invade your fridge and steal your Chinese take-out (do NOT try to stop them; you will never prevail).  So, enjoy a good hearty fork-brandishing argument session in the bosom of your family, which, as you’ll recall if you’ve been listening at all, is located posterior to the sternum of your family.  You might want to write this down. Also, while you’re at it, you could come over and clean my place for me, because I'm just so darned unmotivated.

* As a result of which, my dramatic rendition of the “Match Game” theme song is unparalleled.
** Translated from the German : cf. Nietszche’s Theory of ßlahhhhh.
*** Or that you hate your home.