It's not about the house.

Friday, February 2, 2007

I Want My Two Dollars! (plus one for my mom)

Here's what I heard:

I was listening to the radio the other day and they had an interview with this kid ("kid": he's 28 years old, but - unlike the Irish Girls, for whom it's a term of affection - he deserves it. Call it a term of de-ffection. You'll see why.) anyway this kid has set up his page on myspace to solicit donations from strangers. Why? He wants to buy back the house he grew up in. On Cape Cod. For $1.1 million. And he can't swing it on his own.

Well, boo hoo, let's all give the kid a dollar. Hey, while we're at it, I could use a new car. Give me a dollar too!

But I'm not being entirely fair to this poor kid. It's not like he hasn't gotten himself off to a good start on his own. The interviewer asked him if he had raised any funds to date and he said (and I may not be quoting verbatim here, but the spirit is correct): "Oh, yes! Between the donations my friends and family have pledged I've got - oh, somewhere between fifty and hundred dollars so far."

Fifty or a hundred dollars! If he'd said fifty or a hundred THOUSAND dollars he's still be a long way off, but at least he'd be somewhere. Fifty or a hundred dollars just means it's Friday and he hasn't gone out drinking yet. And that's not to mention the question of why he can't tell the difference between fifty and a hundred dollars. Is it in yen or something? Is he having trouble with the conversion? Or what about the fact that these folks - his friends and family - have only "pledged" the money, he doesn't actually have it yet. But then, it is Friday and he hasn't gone out drinking yet; maybe they just knew better than to put it in his pocket.

The interviewer goes on to ask him why this particular house is so important to him and he says well, you know, he used to ride his bike down the street and stuff. Uh, yeah, so what you're saying is: what's so special about the house you grew up in, is that it's the house that you grew up in? Listen friend, give us a body in the basement or something and then we'll talk. Because most of us feel that way about the houses we grew up in, but most of us don't go around asking the world to buy them back for us.

What most of us do is, we spend years scraping together tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment and then buy whatever hole we can afford. (Not me - I won my down payment on a scratch ticket - but, you know, "most of us".) Or else we sign some stupid mortgage that lets us in without any money down and then, when it turns out we couldn't afford it in the first place, we declare bankruptcy and let the bank foreclose. That's the honest, respectable, hard-working, American thing to do.

But, that's right, you're 28 years old and have only managed to scrape together fifty or a hundred - oh, let's give him the benefit of the doubt from here on in and just call it an even hundred - you've only managed to scrape together a hundred dollars, and that with the help of friends and family. So I'm going to go ahead and assume that you wouldn't qualify for even one of those special foreclosure-mortgages. Well, I can understand that. I was in your shoes a couple years ago myself. But I didn't go asking everybody else to buy my house for me. Why don't you take your fifty - or, sorry, your hundred dollars down to the corner store and buy yourself a bunch of scratch tickets? Oh, that's right, you don't actually have the hundred dollars yet...

Now she's asking him whether, if his plan works out, he could afford to pay the property tax. Oh yes, he says, he really thinks - with the help of, you know, his family and friends - he really thinks he could.

I'm sorry, are these the same friends and family that coughed up the trust fund we've been talking about? Don't you think you might have run that well near dry? I mean, you do realize you have to pay taxes every year, right? Do you think you could count on their fifty - sorry, I keep forgetting, their hundred dollars every year in perpetuity? I don't know where this house is exactly, but the Cape ain't cheap. The least amount of tax you'd have to pay would be - hang on, let me check...

Hm. $5000. That's not as bad as I thought. If you're managing to pay rent somewhere right now, then even you could probably swing that much. You are paying rent now, right? You're not, like, living with your girlfriend's folks or something? No, don't be ridiculous, if you were you'd have some money put away. All right, I'll give you this one: you could pay the tax. That is, of course, assuming you could find a job on the Cape in the wintertime...

Wait, wait, they're going for the heartstrings now. Turns out the house in question was his grandmother's house. Oh, well then... Listen, pal, I never MET one of my grandmothers, but my uncle on that side owns my grandfather's house now. I don't know what it's worth these days but I bet for a million one he'd hand it over. Give me a dollar!

Oh, wait again: kid says his folks were married in that house. Well, in that case... Hey, my parents were married in her mother's house and that house is a PARKING lot now. Give HER a dollar!

What's this? He and his girlfriend of seven years would very much like to also - oh, I think I'm gonna puke. We should buy you a house so you can be married in it? You know what some people do? Some people find a public space where they can entertain their friends and family for a few hours in exchange for an agreed-upon amount of - oh, that's right. Sorry. Well, some people (like me) just walk in to City Hall and get it over with. Course, even that might eat up half of your "down payment", but it would still leave you fifty bucks to have a nice dinner afterward. Assuming, of course, that you started with a hundred...

I don't have any full-circle, grand conclusion to draw here. Obviously, I've just been ranting, getting this off my chest where it's been sitting for a few days while I was running away from cartoon bombs trying to flip me off. Here is where, if I were a nice person, I'd give the kid's web address so you could give him a dollar if you wanted. But I'm not that nice. Plus I was so apoplectic by the time they gave it out that I couldn't hold a pen to write it down.

So if you are nice enough to want to donate to his cause, you'll just have to find him on the web yourself. You want to waste your dollar, you can go ahead and waste your time as well. Me, I'm gonna go set up the computer that my friend Charlie gave me.

Hey, it's not like I asked her for it...


Charlie said...

maybe YOU should give CHARLIE a dollar

Anonymous said...

Yes this kind of thing drives me crazy. I have seen websites asking for people to pay for boob jobs, trips to Aruba, and even a designer wedding gown. Some people feel the world owes them a living I guess. But I guess if we are going to put forth that old adage, you can always ALSO doesn't hurt to ask AND there is a sucker born every minute--so why not benefit from that stupidity (I added the last part).