I’m buying a death house.
Given the sinister name not because of haphazard wiring or substandard construction or because the previous owners were Shelly Long and Tom Hanks, but because there are certain truths that I have based my life around up to this point in the history of the universe and those are as follows: Humans get married. Then they have babies. Then they buy their “dream house.” Then they die.
Sometimes that is not the exact order, but it ends the same.
So I have strategically avoided all of those things and, chuckle if you must, I am still alive. Many of you are currently dying and I only regret that I didn’t get to you in time. If you frequent a website called Facebook, then you are aware that statistics are big these days. Perhaps you too have been surprised to learn that many of your flighty, innocent-appearing acquaintances are actually infused with firearm statistics such as pistol-related deaths per capita in westernized countries with gross national products in the top 14. And other friends—people who can’t check the oil in their silver SUVs and live behind gates and haven’t been in confrontations since a sorority mixer in 1992—are actually experts of gun law changes in the Chicago metro area and the subsequent societal effects, broken down by race and median income.
These are confusing times.
Statistics are all around us and I’m sure we can agree that if you outlaw statistics, then only the outlaws will have statistics, and then how will hard-working, law-abiding citizens deliver passive-aggressive attacks to people we kinda know from high school on social media websites? It’s a scary scary world. It’s a body-builders-who-star-in-the-movie-Predator-become-governors-of-actual-states kind of world. None of us want that. We need numbers.
But even in a non-election year, it’s hard to know what statistics to believe. You can trust in mine: One hundred percent of the time, I avoid the three things that lead to death. One hundred percent of the time, I stay alive. There is no cute analogy to refute that.
So why am I tempting fate, ignoring the life guidelines, buying a death house? I do not know. This must be what happens when you move home in your mid-30s, when you start working on the family farm where you once threw rocks and fed pigs, when you drive by your little town’s water tower too many times with country music playing, when you spend day after day with your aging parents. (Update: They got another year older last year.) I’m getting weak, maybe. But the current homeowners and I have agreed on a price and if they accept payment in truckloads of corn or insider horse racing tips, then it’s a done deal. I have a house. Yes, I’m dead. Maybe not today, but tomorrow. OK, maybe the next day. It’s one of those three.
Actually, I do know what happened. It has a shed. This house comes with a shed. I’m not talking about a rotting, detached garage or some outhouse-looking rake shack where you store the weedwacker. No, I mean a shed of such splendor, such splendid-ness, such splendid-idity as they probably said in the old country, you would get married specifically to upset your wife* so she would make you sleep out there. (*Sorry consenting gay adults, it’s “wife” here. This is Kansas. We are still considering an amendment that would reduce the amount of prison time for just saying the word “evolution” in public. I had to drive to Colorado to legally type that last sentence.)
After seeing this shed, I didn’t care if the house had bathrooms. In fact, could we tear down the house and add to the shed? Not that this shed needed anything. Tall ceiling. Insulated. Heat and air conditioning. Deer heads mounted on the wall. It’s a day spa for men. You could overhaul an engine on one side and build furniture on the other, especially if I knew anything about engines or furniture. The point is I COULD do those things. If the Mayans had work space like this, their calendar wouldn’t have been a commercial flop. If these climate-controlled conditions had existed 300 years ago, the Pilgrims wouldn’t be extinct.
Apparently one of the benefits of buying a house in a small town is the due diligence already has been done. With a couple trips around town, I’ve been told what the last five owners did to the house, what they added on, who did the work, what they wanted to do but couldn’t afford, what they argued about on Sundays, how many kids lived there, the social security numbers of the kids, what the kids are doing now, current addresses and phone numbers, etc., etc. At this point, an inspection might be overkill.
This feels like my house. This wouldn’t be my first house, but it would be the first where I was thinking about something besides re-sale value. It feels like death. It might not be your standard “dream” house, but if I get it, I can’t imagine letting go. I see the shed and getting a ping-pong table, maybe one of those old school pop machines with glass bottles. I can picture the shed and I growing old together, appreciating each other’s quirks, not longing for younger, curvier sheds and forgetting each other’s birthdays. Is this what true love feels like?
Why am I acting like this? I’m not this guy. I’ve had manicures. I’ve gone weeks without eating meat or dairy. I have intense conversations about moisturizer. I am less manly than Charlize Theron in the movies she DOESN’T play a serial killer and here I am distracted over a shed like it’s wearing a sun dress and I’m in junior high.
Speaking of those wonderful adolescent years, my shed—can I call it my shed yet without jinxing it?—even has a row of royal blue lockers that the previous owners bought from my junior high school before it was renovated. I’ll have to invite over a bully and see if I still fit in one. I hope so, because the end is near and a locker would be much cheaper than a coffin.