Here in Capitalism Central (CC), I’m still grappling with the grandness of things and the excess stuff. Closets filled with barely-used or forgotten chatchkes. Air conditioning running 24/7. “Compact Cars” the size of minivans. A Starbuck’s small sized latte three times the size of the same priced small coffee back in Tel Aviv.
Last night we went to family friends’ for dinner. They live on two acres (8 dunams) in a sprawling, high-ceilinged ranch style home that two summers ago accommodated 20 guests. “They” are an executive secretary and a real estate agent. No kids, no pets, no adopted or foster children running around. Boggle, boggle, boggle. What do they do with all that space? They chase each other a lot my father jokes. Ha ha.
My mother is currently interviewing “closet designers”. People who maximize closet functionality, rendering each and every walk-in the ultimate in storage utilitarianism. As she and a pen and pad clutching “agent” toured the house Friday morning, I fell into such an uncontrolled fit of laughter over the notion of paying someone to rearrange “the stuff”, that my mom excused herself, entered my room and threatened to lock me in one of those storage spaces if I didn’t pipe down. How did she know what I was laughing about?
The flip side of bounty is the refined to near perfection service industry. Soooooooo smooth the service with a (plasticine) smile is. It’s all easy and good and fun and inexpensive. Hence the stuff inside the closets.
My friend Rebecca Morgenstern used to joke about her mother’s habit of picking up stuff for her and then ringing her up in a glee-filled state: “I got you two pairs of size 8 shoes in two different colors!” Ma, I’m a size 7 Becca would groan. “Never mind, honey. We’ll stuff them with Kleenex. They were on sale!”…The kicker? Becca’s a Columbia Environmental Program graduate. She lived in the Biosphere and studied eco-farming in Ecuador.
When Becca laughs hysterically, her mom threatens to take away all her shoes. We love our moms.