Over the past few years, my shortcut to Target has routinely taken me past
a designated Dream Home. It is very large. Commute time from the kitchen to
the living room alone would be a minimum of 10 minutes.
We would drive by as the house was being built and I'd mutter, "Who would
want a house that big? How are you going to clean all the windows?"
The kids said that if you could afford to live in a house that big you
could afford to have someone else clean your windows.
"OK, but how are you going to find your reading glasses?"
The kids said you don't hunt for glasses when you live in a house that big.
You get that LASIK eye surgery."
"OK, but what if you want to go out for pizza and you're downstairs and you
realize your shoes are all the way upstairs?"
The kids said, you don't pick up pizza, you have it delivered along with
the breadsticks, extra cheese, a padded booth and the jukebox.
"OK, but how are you going to know where the kids are and what they're
doing in a house that big?"
Not a single wise guy had an answer.
Last week I buzzed by the Dream Home and was surprised to see a large sign
out front: REMODELING.
I don't know. I guess I thought the dream would have lasted a little longer
A front-page article in the Washington Post (apparently there wasn't any
interesting instant-messaging going on that day) says that a lot of us are
chasing the dream home. Or at least the dream bathroom. This year,
Americans will spend $22 billion on luxury bathrooms.
These once purely functional rooms, where you slipped in and out, are now
embellished with floors imported from French chateaus, heated towel bars,
spa-tubs, portable speakers for the iPod and wide-screen TVs with surround
And the showers. Some of them have shower heads costing $750, four and five
body sprays and poof instant steam.
Bathrooms have gone luxury. Who would have thought that keeping up with the
Joneses would one day mean installing a heated toilet?
The article also reported that the $22 billion spent on bathrooms is 10
times what the U.S. government will spend on AIDS research this year, and
is six times the annual budget of Kenya.
But just as those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, neither
should those who live in houses with vinyl siding.
For several years we have supported a Haitian girl who lives with her
mother and grandmother in a stick hut that tilts to the west. In Haiti, a
Dream Home is made of cinder blocks and can be purchased for about $2,000.
No shower heads, but it stands upright and offers protection from the
At one point I determined we would save that money a ten here, a twenty
there but as of now, the dream home is still just that: a dream.
Do I have excuses? Plenty. There have been tuition and utilities bills, new
computers and a car to buy, higher-speed Internet connection, more cell
phones, necessities, and, to be honest, a whole lot of not-so-necessities.
Which brings us to the age-old question: How much is enough?
And the age-old answer: More. Much, much more.