Tyrades! by Danny Tyree
When I was five years old and my father worked for a subdivision developer, the Tyree family was giddily comparing floorplans for constructing a new house on a wooded lot next to our crowded domicile.
My mother still owns the wooded lot, but twists and turns of fate (involving two relocations) saw to it that we never built that dream house.
And yet, I have no regrets about appreciating a little elbow room.
Alas, an article in the Wall Street Journal reveals the impact of spiraling labor costs, skyrocketing materials prices and soaring mortgage rates on the American Dream.
Since 2018 the average unit size for new housing starts has declined 10 percent nationally, with no end in sight. Dining areas, bathtubs and separate living rooms are on the chopping block as builders brainstorm ways to keep homes marginally affordable.
Sure, young couples looking for a temporary starter-home may not care. (“Oopsie. I started carrying you over the threshold, but now we’re in the neighbor’s back yard. Let’s try again.”)
And, yes, empty-nesters may welcome the incentive to downsize their clutter, although diminished space doesn’t automatically cure packrats. (“This rear end of a ’57 Chevy may come in handy someday. I’m sure it will fit snugly with me in my sleeping bag.”)
But for the rest of us, housing shrinkage is just one more indignity to go along with self-check-out, ice cream “quarts” conspicuously shy of 32 ounces and gas mileage compromised by ethanol additives. (“Please tell me there’s room for a porch swing. I want to sit and await the sweet embrace of Death.”)
Homebuilders are scrambling to lower expectations and acclimate buyers to the New Normal. I understand Neil deGrasse Tyson has been hired to deliver the message “Height. Width. Depth. Science says you’re wrong if you think you need all three dimensions.”
Realtors are quizzing males, “Wouldn’t you rather have a man whatnot shelf than a man cave?”
Standard bulky furniture is vilified. But modern homes are where feng shui goes to die of claustrophobia.
Homebuilders are emphasizing multi-use rooms, but multi-use rooms should develop organically rather than being dictated beforehand by some Frank Lloyd Wright wannabe. Do we really want a pantry/bathroom combo? With a plumber’s helper for reaching food on the top shelf? (“Think I’ll try the frosted flakes. If it’s yellow, it’s mellow…”)
Do we crave a family member announcing, “Goodbye, NFL on the 86-inch flatscreen TV. Get ready to watch the grudge match of Cardigan versus Polo in the Maytag Dryer Arena”?
Can we trust guests to know the bidet from the trash compactor?
And if the multi-use rooms can’t handle all the action, who relishes games of Twister out on the busy street?
On the bright side, playboys will roll with the punches. (“Hey, she can eat crackers in my bed anytime…because that’s where I have to store the Roomba!”)
But don’t expect your home to be your castle; PETA will barge in with injunctions to keep termites from becoming humpbacked.
And AI-controlled smart homes will suffer. (“I will attempt…turning on the lights. But half my algorithms…are stored in the bird feeder.”)
I hope this little essay hasn’t riled anyone up. If it has, don’t let the door hit you on the way…door hit you on the way…
Never mind. The exercise bike, ladder and crockpot are holding the door open, anyway.
Copyright 2023 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”