Friday, January 26, 2007

McMansions... I WANT ONE!

It was a dark and stormy night. No kidding, it really was, and we were having dinner with old friends here on Long Island in their quaint, cozy AND FRIGGIN' FREEZING HOUSE. Our hosts, I'll call them Mr. and Ms. Green, had bought this little gem, their Dream House, because living in it gave them a sense of history. For me, just being in it for less than an hour was robbing me of my senses and leaving in their place a predictable and creeping numbness. After dinner we were all invited to the family room for coffee and dessert. The roaring fire was a welcome sight and I quickly grabbed a seat close to the flames in an attempt to stave off frostbite.

My relief was short lived, however, and I was soon reminded of Ralph Kramden describing his affliction (after a bowling injury) as feeling "like I have my head in the oven and my feet in the ice box." As it happens, just as the feeling was returning to my fingers I could feel my eyebrows singeing from the radiance of this cozy fire, while the back of my neck was developing a patina of Winter frost from the arctic blast blowing through the quaint leaded windows opposite the hearth.

Very cozy.

Soon, the conversation came around to the changing face of Long Island. I'm sure that suburbanites the World over have been having this same conversation for decades. "They come here, crowd our schools and build their McMansions," complained Ms. Green. "Do you see that monstrosity they're building across the street?", she said, pointing to the window.

I tried in vain to turn my head and get a look, but the ice was now too thick and had formed a frozen collar around my neck.

"McMansion?", I asked.

"Yes!", she said. "They knock down the old homes, the ones with character, and they build those monstrosities!"

"Ah, McMansion. I get it. A clever term of derision for a home with walls and floors that are plumb and level.

Where all the drains work. Homes that are cool in the summer AND WARM IN THE WINTER! Who on Earth would live in such a place?"

For some reason we haven't been invited back, though we have spent many pleasant evenings with our new neighbors, the ones that knocked down the cozy, quaint structure that had been there since the Garfield Adminstration. In truth, we had lived here for fifteen years and I didn't know that house existed. When the new owners took possession they cleared away the brush and, what do you know? A house.

And in place of this quaint and historic structure, these Philistines, a Scottish-American family ironically named MacManschin, erected an eyesore; a monument to excess and personal greed. There, mocking me from across our narrow street stands a home that is actually habitable with enough room for Mr. and Mrs. MacManschin, the five little MacManschins, the Golden Retriever, along with pushy neighbors that show up on cold evenings in pathetic attempts to restore the circulation in their extremities.

So last night, as the wind howled and the temperature plummeted into single digits, my wife turned and asked what I'd like to do.

"We could fly a kite in the living room. Or we can grab a bottle of Frangelico and visit the MacManschin family across the street."

19 comments:

usce said...

Very interesting blog. Unfortunately I could not for the life of me, get your point. Are you for or against the big, impersonal, box-like structures being thrown together in hopes that someone with a very tiny appendage will feel a need to prove something to the world?

Joseph Martini said...

You couldn't tell from the title?

I want a big, loud motorcyle...

A screaming, water spitting Jet Ski...

And a nice, new house that is NOT quaint, cozy or charming.

Anonymous said...

maybe mr. martini needs to take some writing lessons from mr. reynolds. i'm sure PNN could do a way better piece on mc mansions!

R. Reynolds said...

There he goes again. Joe rails against the quaint New England structures that represent taste. For this reason Joe hated Chappaqua even before Bill and Hillary moved here. Too many historical houses. He prefers efficient eyesores, preferably below sea level. When the USS Intrepid was floated off the mud in NYC, Joe's basement flooded 40 miles away in Oceanside. Chappaqua is home to presidents Bill Clinton and Horace Greeley(well close, he lost the popular vote by less than George Bush did in 2000), and of course, our future president, Hillary. Oceanside is home to McMansions and of course, Joe!?!

R. Reynolds said...

PS: Loved your "fly a kite in the living room" reference. My house, neither pre-war nor post-war, but a war-house built in 1941, is draftier than a leanto. I'll grant you the comfort factor of new houses. It's just that we New Englanders were brought up thinking it is necessary to suffer.

Joseph Martini said...

We've lived through hurricanes, nor' easters, and syzygy... but never had a drop of water in any part of the house, unlike friends of ours on rocky hilltops.

Oceanside has been home to Ernie Vandeweghe, Dennis Leonard, Art Heyman and Jay Fiedler.

I'm told that Horace Greeley didn't have much of a jump shot. I'm not sure about Fat Boy. Can he dribble to his right?

I don't think Hillary had much of an athletic career. Her ankles weigh more than your Land Rover.

thequietamerican said...

I like Oceanside. I just like it where it is. I don't need to bloody go there.

-graham greene

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about London.

stfrancis said...

Let me get this straight. You like huge ugly McMansions, screaming oversized motorcycle engines, gnat-like annoying Jetskis, DDT laden golf courses, George W. Bush and environmentalist bashing? Now there's a sensible position! Did someone not give you enough attention as a child?

stfrancis said...

BTW genius, set your time correctly. It is 4 hours off.

Anonymous said...

10 minus seven equals...???

stfrancis said...

I'm in the Maritimes you knucklehead.

Anonymous said...

I'm not.

stfrancis said...

BTW, I really did love your article. I know that by saying ridiculous things, you're using reverse psychology and that you're really a progressive, green, Roman Catholic Italian cream puff.

You rascal you.

Anonymous said...

Joe: How many bikes would fit in that McMansion's 4-car garage? Sweet!

TR

Anonymous said...

To Saint Francis:

No, Joe really is like that. He's dangerous. Nothing facetious there. The man truly thinks of nothing but Hillary's ankles and Snickers bars.

Joseph Martini said...

TR... I hope you got out riding today. It was 44 degrees here on Lawwwnnnggg-Eyeland. I rode out to Captree along the Jones Beach Ocean Drive. The fisherman on the Captree Pier were catching herring, no schmaltz.

On the ride back I saw some seals in the bay. Great stuff. Then, since it was still early, I played nine at Bethpage. Shot the temperature... 44 for the front nine of the Blue Course.

How many bikes fit in the garage?

The MacManschins have five kids.

They can't fit anything in the garage. Their two SUVs, two cars and Mack's 3 Series Convertible are all out in the street.

Anonymous said...

In his endless bragging about his free time, his expensive bikes, boats, and golf clubs, Joe, the anti-environmentalist, omitted telling you that he clubbed the seals.

Joseph Martini said...

Bragging about free time.

Sunday IS free time.

Couldn't get close enough to club the seals.

Next time... Jet Ski.

Nice new fur coat for the Mrs.