Dream House

JOYCE MUELLING CURRY is a housewife in Brisbane, California, and this is her first appearance in the ATLANTIC.

I hear the housing market is getting soft. Good. Perhaps if people slowed down in their buying of houses they would have time to reflect upon what they personally would like in a house, not “what Everybody is getting these days.” I do not know who Everybody is, and while I have no wish for a libel suit, I must say I think Everybody is a totalitarian minority imposing its views upon the unsuspecting majority, which just wants to get along.

I am tired of being told I shouldn’t want a dining room in my home because Everybody dispenses with that compartment these days, I am tired of being told I must have an automatic dishwasher in my home as Everybody has one these days. I am given to understand that the right to dine in a dining room, and to enjoy doing dishes manually, went out with burgundy (Everybody is drinking vin rose these days). I am given to understand that if my address is not Lakewood, Crestwood, Lakeview, Crestview, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, I should move.

I must state that I am not altogether alone in this crabbed view that I have. (How’s that for the name of a suburban tract — Crabbed View?) I have a very aggressive friend who succeeded in having a full wall installed between kitchen and dinette (dinette — meaning the other end of the living room), instead of the scanty partition which Everybody knows is essential for the quick and efficient serving of food. It took quite some bit of ingenuity to persuade the contractor that this change in design was not impracticable. For six months she alternately lost weight to prove she could negotiate the three-foot aperture she craved, then gained weight to prove she was too fat ever to hurry, and would always find time to locate said door.

I used to enjoy visits to the apartment of a particular couple who used innovations like a mirror arrangement for watching television from the bathroom and occasional tables made by stacking glass blocks and glass shelves just so. Suddenly they realized that Everybody was moving to Rolling Hills — or was it Rolling Park? Our first trip to their house found us hoping their car would be parked in front for means of identification, or that the houses on their block would be spaced properly so that we could catch the number and stop before passing the whole row of houses.

These difficulties mastered, we arrived, to find that all new furniture had been purchased to grace the new home. Modern furniture, of course, for that is what Everybody is getting these days. The effect was that of a doctor’s waiting room, with the addition of a television and a picture window.

Picture window — that used to mean a window with a view, but now it seems to have evolved into a kind of window that Everybody has. The view through this particular picture window was of an identical living room in the house across the street, though I noticed our friends had a different style of television from that of their neighbors across the way. The last time we visited there, however, our friends had a new television. Everybody had the new style, they said.

When we were in the market for a house, our friends would say, “Have you seen the new home in Crestview Manor?” or Lakewood Park or Crestview Park. We would dash out to see this distinctive new home, which inevitably turned out to be merely a furnished sample of all the others in the tract. I suppose Everybody should be allowed to have what Everybody wants. But it can lead to difficulties.

There was the case of the man who returned to his Lake Edge home late at night from a poker party, opened the door, and went straight through to the bedroom without turning on lights, so as not to disturb anyone. It was when he got into bed and found that his wife was on her own side of the bed that he knew something was wrong. One wonders that this should be his first clue that he was in the wrong house, but it seems that Everybody is installing the new Handee clothes hanger for closet doors, and of course the Brite-Stripe Tacon pajama is a must.

Last week our most recently married friends called to invite us to dinner in their new home. Don’t remember now if it’s in Manor Park or Manor Dale — or maybe it’s Dale Manor. “We can watch television after,” Mary said, “I’ll take my African violet out of the front window so that you can tell which house is ours.”