February 03, 2006

Gratuitous Cranky Domestic Posting (TM) - Lifestyles Of The Rich And Foolish Division

So there is some talk of my possibly joining the board of one of the local community orchestras. There certainly are some advantages to this. Getting involved in music, for one. Community participation, for another. And it would be an excellent opportunity for making what Meyer Wolfsheim called "gunnegshuns" in anticipation of that time in the future when I give Father Justice the bum's rush and head back into private practice.

On the other hand, at least judging from the conversation I had with one of the current members last evening, a primary function of the group seems to be to act as an excuse to show off one's own home and snoop out everybody else's:

Self: [After listening to extended explanation of the cocktail and fund-raising circuit] "So what performances do you have coming up?"

Member: "Oh, we're doing a tribute to novels this year. The next concert will feature "Romeo & Juliet".

Self: [Strongly resisting urge to point out that R&J is not a novel] "Oh, that's interesting. Personally, I'm not all that moved by Prokofiev, but every now and again it's good to hear his music."

Member: "Yes. Well, anyway, we had our last meeting at So-and-So's - they built over in Such-a-Place..."

And so on.

This got me stewing about McMansions in general and their typically basketball court-sized kitchens in particular. These have always irked me as the very pinnacle of the pretense behind these places. It's not as if the owners actually cook in the Julia Child sense of the word (they typically cater when entertaining and, I strongly suspect, subsist on take-out when dining alone). Rather, they need all that space so that everybody can cram in to see all the gee-whiz technology and luughzery appointments of the room. Which are really only there for prestige purposes to begin with. In effect, it's not actually a kitchen, it's a kitchen showroom.

Feh. I loathe this brand of conspicuous consumption. Unlike my friends across the political aisle, I don't believe that people who indulge in it should be either guillotined or taxed back to the Stone Age, but Lawd Almighty I do believe they should be mocked.

If I do join up (which I probably will, if invited), just think of the material I'll have to work with!

(BTW, I read somewhere once that the French root of the word "prestige" actually has connotations of deciet rather than high standing through merit. People enamoured of Madison Avenue's use of the word "prestigious" ought to keep that in mind.)

Posted by Robert at February 3, 2006 11:43 AM | TrackBack

My wife suffers from Big Kitchen Envy. In ours, you could swing a dead cat and touch every wall. One of my sisters has a McMansion, with the Nimitz-class marble-top island in the middle, and every time we visit, Mrs. C. is envious. In the architecture of Colossus Manor, though, there isn't much we could do to enlarge our current one, and so we make do with 1972's small countertops.

It will be everything I can do to keep us in the current home until retirement.

Posted by: The Colossus at February 3, 2006 11:59 AM

I think that people that join the board of community orchestras should be mocked. Also, Llamas, Oliver Willis and the mentally handicapped.

But I repeat myself. Twice.

Posted by: Bill from INDC at February 3, 2006 12:01 PM

I suffer from kitchen envy myself. But then, I cook. Really cook. Cause I love it and it relaxes me and I really enjoy seeing hubby eat - which he is always happy to do, so it works out well. All things being equal, however, even though the McMansions have kitchen showrooms (good description, btw) they're often laid out in ways that make people would might want to use them for actually cooking scoff, cause they're laid out as showpieces, not functional spaces.

Posted by: beth at February 3, 2006 12:26 PM

Colossus, you plutocratic bastard, I only wish that I had a kitchen big enough to swing a cat in. And, like Beth, I enjoy doing some serious cooking.

Displays of conspicuous consumption like this make me wish we had a US Labour Party. I'd never vote for them, but every now and again I could contemplate doing so for a few minutes until the spell of bitter, green envy passes.

Posted by: utron at February 3, 2006 12:31 PM

I just loved the imagery of the Nimitz-class sized marble top kitchen island....I just had this image of being 5 and launching giant meatballs from the side of the deck...

Posted by: Steve the LLamabutcher at February 3, 2006 12:47 PM

What Beth said. Family confession: my parents have a showcase kitchen that I covet, but my mother uses it and well. She is an excellent cook. And it's laid out for an excellent cook. I want it.

Posted by: jen at February 3, 2006 12:49 PM

Oh, I've got no gripe with people using a kitchen that size to, you know, actually COOK or something.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at February 3, 2006 01:02 PM

I know. Just wanted to let you know that there are some with the Nimitz-class counters who do use them as something other than a showpiece.

Posted by: jen at February 3, 2006 02:29 PM

Of course, the more recent trend in the larger McMansions is to have 2 kitchens, one to show off to guests and a working one for the catering staff. Which is beyond silly, but whatever.

Posted by: owlish at February 3, 2006 05:50 PM

GO FOR IT!!!! I can hardly wait to read your reactions to the thrills of working with these "plastic fantastics"! Having served on many musical boards as the token "worker bee" representing the classless masses, it will give you many moments to just shake your head in disbelief and provide unlimited fodder for this blog! In my past duties, I was the only committee member who ever did the work by myself, not my husband's secretary or my company's administrative assitant and the meetings held at my tiny little flea market furnished house provided unlimited hours of enjoyment. I am glad I suffered through it because it really did help bring a more varied program to our area and help open the joys of live music to a much wider audience.

Posted by: janeye at February 4, 2006 08:05 AM