Thursday, October 14, 2010

*When There's Too Much Of A Good Thing

["Let Inga Tell You", La Jolla Light, published June 3, 2010]


I realize we’re talking La Jolla here, but I’ve concluded it’s possible for a home to be over-amenitized.

Friends of ours were able to get a great deal on a 4,000 square foot showplace that had risen out of the proverbial ashes of a former fixer. A spec house started before the real estate market went bust, it boasted “every amenity”.

Ironically, our friends were less interested in amenities than in the great location, the spaciousness of the house, and the proximity to schools. What they are finding is that there is a fine line between a builder who installs “every amenity” and one who has had a psychotic break. They spend pretty much all their time reading amenity manuals.

When I visited the new digs after they moved in, my friend asked if I might consult on her refrigerator. Near as I can tell, this refrigerator would also do her laundry if she asked it to but its digital thermometer was reading 50 degrees. Did I agree, she asked, that this seemed a tad warm? I did, and the repair service that she called moments later agreed as well, but alas, it being a Friday, they could not possibly come until Monday afternoon.

Not to worry, I told her. I was sure I could find enough space in my own fridge for her perishables over the weekend.

“You know,” she replied somewhat sheepishly, “that’s incredibly nice of you. But I think there may actually be some more refrigerators around here.”

I was stopped dead in my tracks. The mere idea that there could be refrigerators lying around that one didn’t know about put my imagination into overdrive. I fantasized Olof coming home from work to our 1,600 square foot cottage one night and saying, “So how was your day?” and my replying, “Well, I was looking for my set of Jane Austen’s and guess what I found – a refrigerator!”

Now, the friends hadn’t lived there very long at the time, but lo and behold, a brief search turned up a second refrigerator in the pasta cooking station and even another fridge – with freezer - in the wet bar. There was probably at least a fridgelet tucked into the master bath for those champagne bubble bath occasions and undoubtedly one on the grill patio. One would certainly be required on the roof deck. And in a pinch, one could always appropriate the wine fridge.

So thanks, she said, but it appeared she had alternate cooling resources. In fact, probably enough to back up Vons.

The downside of amenities, of course, is that they break – even brand-new allegedly still under warranty amenities. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the garbage disposal in the auxiliary prep sink stopped working as well. My friend had a repairman out to look at it and he agreed it was under warranty and also that the same problem was likely to recur. However, he added, it was more economical for the warrantors to keep fixing it than replacing it. Huh? I said, as my friend related the story. Every disposal I’ve ever had cost $100. No, she said, turns out that this is the Lamborghini of disposals. According to the repair guy, it could “do a small dog”. Olof heard this and said if it were him, he’d upgrade to one that does a medium dog. I’m guessing you could probably also do a husband if you cut him in dog-sized pieces first. (See imagination overdrive, above.) In fact, I was about to suggest to the friend that this house could be the site of the perfect crime. The industrial-grade mega-hertz central vac system would easily suck up even the minutest husband fragments and the disposal would make sure he was thoroughly chummed long before he hit the treatment plant. CSI wouldn’t stand a chance.

But then it occurred to me that those husband fragments could be friend fragments. Note to self: keep mouth shut.

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