Last weekend, my wife and I went house hunting. By the time we had looked at the tenth house, they all looked the same to me. I had stopped thinking about where I was, what the house looked like, whether it was a practical arrangement for our family, which kid would stay in what room, and had in general stopped doing anything but responding with affirmations of whatever my wife said. It turns out that you can pretend to be engaged in whatever someone else is doing simply by saying, whenever it’s clear that it’s your turn to talk, one of the following:
- “That’s exactly right.”
- “Hmm. That’s a good question. What do you think?” (This is a good one when it’s clear you’ve been asked for your opinion on something but you really don’t have any idea what’s going on.)
While we wandered, a number of thoughts went through my mind. They include the following:
- If you’ve got a massive dog with a massive incontinence problem, you shouldn’t even try to sell your house until you’ve replaced all the carpet in the house. All the Sharper Image De-Ionizing De-Stinkifiers in the world aren’t going to be sufficient, the open windows just acknowledge the stench without making me think there’s any hope for eliminating it (“Honey, let’s buy this house! And when we do, let’s always leave all the windows open!”), and the cinnamon-scented candles just make the place smell like cinnamony dog pee.
- If you want to sell your home, go away while I wander around in your house. If you’re watching over my shoulder, I don’t feel like I can be nosy. And if I don’t feel like I can be nosy, I’m just going to make polite noises and get out as fast as I can.
- My new bike commute is going to be epic. I’m going to be riding 50 miles and doing 4000 feet of climbing every single day, just by going to work and back. Too bad (for everyone else) my new job doesn’t have showers onsite.
- Money becomes meaningless when you talk about large enough quantities of it.
Wrapping My Head around Money
Here’s my theory: when you start talking about so much money that you can no longer imagine how big a pile of one-dollar-bills totaling that amount would be, the quantity starts being meaningless. How big would a pile of 100,000 one dollar bills be? Would it fill a 10-foot-square room up to my knees, hips, or chest? I don’t know.
And that’s why buying a house seems so strange. When I negotiate on price, I have no real idea whether the house is, objectively, a good value. All I know is I’m going to offer $15,000 less than the asking price, because I know everyone asks for more than they expect.
Is any house worth the amount of money I’m about to borrow for one? I don’t know. I can’t imagine the pile. But I do know that I’ve developed a nice little headache in the left half of my head while thinking about it.
And I’m hyperventilating, too.
I thought about bikes while house hunting, too. Specifically, I thought about how strange it was to be saying things like, “This house is only $5,000 more than the last house we looked at,” when I know for sure that there’s no way in the world anyone would say I just spent “only” $5000 on a bike, even though I’d enjoy a $5000 bike a lot more than whatever difference $5000 counts for between two houses.
With all that said, here’s the one we’re probably going to get:
Please note the best features of the house:
- three car garage
- custom-built epic commute
My wife, however, contends that the best thing about it is the beautiful granite countertops.
PS: My son is very happy to announce that he has created a new minigame. Try it at: http://www.minigamemania.com/5.html.