Owned by Your Own Home

April, 2000

Greetings Calendar Watchers!

     April 19th is a day that will live in infamy in Maloney history. No, it's not because of the Oklahoma City bombing or those whackos in Waco who were blown up by other whackos in Waco. It is a more personal date with destiny. Yes, it was on this date a mere four years ago that I was sentenced to thirty years at hard labor-- by my bank.
     On that date, April 19th, 1996-- amidst a gathering of bankers, lawyers, realtors and other questionable company, Wendy and I took possession of our dream hovel--- the Maloney Tract Ranch. Somehow the date seems fitting, considering that our lives exploded that day.
      An amazing metamorphosis occurs when ordinary people become homeowners. Before the BIG DAY came, we were simple cave-dwellers, content with the life that comes with living in a hole hewn out of the earth, ready to move on at a moment's notice (or at least when our lease was up.) We were surrounded
by other homo erecti and all the comforts of happy Neanderthal existence. But on that fateful January day, when the City of Chicago planted a phony bus stop in front of our apartment building and kidnapped our Taurus- (for a ransom of $155.00, mind you) we knew we had to "evolve" or die. (For those of you who truly believe in evolution- we have found the missing link. They are home inspectors.) That very day I began to seek land that I could own, with a garage and a livable shanty on it.
       My standards for shelter weren't very high. I told the realtor that I was looking for something that the big bad wolf couldn't blow down, and was less than a day's drive from work. The Realtor said that was an easy task. (I was pretty naive then. I didn't realize that as a homeowner I could find lots of work to do without even pulling out of my driveway.) They wanted to show me some townhomes, but I didn't want to be at the mercy of the People's Republic of the Homeowner's Association. (The last thing I needed were spies all around the area, reporting to Central Committee about the spacing of my
Christmas lights and window treatments.) I put my foot down-- it had to be a free-standing shack or nothing.
      I was told that homes "in my price range" were a little difficult to find in nearby locations. We needed to look a "little farther out." Like Saturn. Australia was a definite possibility -- if I didn't mind a "fixer-upper." More like "blower-uppers." I saw some places that the Army Corps of Engineers gave up on. Then there were a brigade of houses that were "charming." "Charming" is not charming. It is a euphemism for "look into this microscope. It's the split level over there to the right of that smallpox germ." One house was so small that I'm almost positive that the realtor took it out of the trunk of his car.
We got tremendous insight into the way people live. We saw a bachelor's house that reminded me of something comedienne Rita Rudner said. "Bachelors live like bears with furniture." She was right. I saw things in that house that I can never tastefully relate to another human being. I saw decor that could make Martha Stewart move into a cave. At one showing I was ready to ask the homeowner for some Dramamine just to keep from keeling over in front of her leopard-print wallpaper. One sportsman's motto was, "say it with antlers." But I digress.
     We finally bought our piece of the American Debt from a "motivated" seller. They were being deported. Actually, the wife of the owner was eight months pregnant and she wanted to be into a bigger house before they launched baby number four. The house had been on the market for three weeks
and they lowered their price twice.
      I'd like to tell you about the mortgage approval process, but I really shouldn't use profanity-- besides, I promised an entire team of councilors back at the institution that I just wouldn't go into it again. No use
wasting good therapy.
      So it all came down to this-- We sat in a room signing papers that I couldn't have understood with the wisdom of Solomon, wrote a check that was bigger than Ted Kennedy's bar tab and walked out as human beings owning a patch of earth with a real-type house on it. Four years ago today. A few days later we packed everything we owned into a livestock van and moved here to Aurora/Stepford/Naperville.
     Nowadays there isn't a single room is this house that I haven't changed the lighting in, I'm quite the expert at changing the thermocouple in the furnace (I keep spares), and the boys have left their mark on EVERYTHING in sight. The plumbing is strange, the wiring is coincidental, and the appliances are possessed. But we are happy to be here in our own little home. Come and visit us sometime.

Gotta go....... clean up on aisle five.

Neil