Friday, May 20, 2016
Telling Tiny Lies
I'm as interested as anyone in the Tiny House movement. I enjoy seeing what people plan for such places, and I like watching Tiny House videos on YouTube--especially those by chud327. (He's witty as well as being a talented builder--he shows how to get things done with grace and good cheer. His ease of workmanship even inspired me to believe that I could repair my toilet myself, and that's saying something.)
But a lifetime as a trend watcher rather than a trend follower leaves me with no illusion: Tiny Houses are a fad. It's a lovely dream that won't work in the long run. It's essentially the Octagon House (1880's) or the Geodesic Dome (1960's) of the 2010's. Beautiful notions don't always last.
And as a person who makes a living by dealing with other people's stuff, I will tell you that people love Stuff--collecting it, hoarding it, piling it up. I'm no different. This morning I added a couple more metal nutcrackers to a container already chockfull of nutcrackers. Why do I keep them? Well, they break. The older ones are stronger and less likely to do so; therefore, when I come across an extra one, it's cheaper to keep it. (As you might recall, that's a life rule for me.)
Tiny Houses don't have enough places to store Stuff. Now, I don't mean that people need to have a dozen nutcrackers (like me) when one or none would do but I do mean that there's no place for necessities--to store a five pound bag of flour or to slot screwdrivers in several sizes or to keep extra blankets. That is Important Stuff that makes life easier, more workable, more comfortable. That is Stuff which gives you a sense of certainty that you can cope with whatever comes your way. It's necessary for well-being. And if a person is gonna tout the green and self-sustaining way, it's important to be aware that situations can't always be resolved with a five-minute drive to the Quick Stop. (Just ask me what it was like living in post-Katrina Mississippi.)
And speaking of being self-sustaining, just where will they store the produce that they have grown in their nice organic gardens? What about canning equipment? If you're gonna live the life, you've gotta have the gear. What about the sawdust for your composting john? One little bucket won't last long; you'll need more than that, especially if your non-refrigerated food results in you having a bad tummy. (Yeah, I sound like an old bat.....but you know I'm right.)
My suspicion is that people who are attempting to live in Tiny Houses are actually hoarding extra Stuff elsewhere--like maybe Grandpa's garage or Mama's attic. This wouldn't even be the necessary everyday Stuff (like muffin mix or a rubber mallet) either. They've gotta keep the Christmas ornaments somewhere. But there's also Stuff like off-season clothing. I don't care how people say they are doing the whole Tidy thing or the 30-item closet or whatever the current deal is.....eventually they will accumulate Stuff even if they don't mean to (like when it's that sentimental sweater that belonged to a former boyfriend), and they've gotta hide it somewhere they don't want you to see because they don't wanna look uncool when being kakkoi is everything. And that means that someone else is probably keeping something somewhere for them because nobody really wants to part with their old teddy bear or their high school yearbook or other such Stuff.
The point is that people should be honest with themselves. It's human nature to hoard something, even if it's just a few extra rolls of TP or another six-pack of beer, because we don't like to be discomfited, we don't like to be inconvenienced, we don't like to run out. It makes us feel poor. We like Stuff. It enriches our lives. It makes things easier.
Tiny Houses are cool, without a doubt. But, largely, being Tiny is yet one more way for the Generation of Umbrage to thumb its nose at what has gone before. It's nothing new really. Every generation does it--remember those folks with the Octagons and the Domes. And every one comes back to the dark side eventually--a house where there's enough space to store Stuff.
My house is unapologetically Little but I can still keep a dozen nutcrackers without worry, and that works for me.