Saturday, March 27, 2010

Anthem for Doomed Condo Associations

I'd be more concerned about my diffidence if I wasn't so diffident.
But lately I've been wondering about the word I've clung onto so proudly for so long.
The online definition alludes to shyness. I'm not sure I trust this. Words were like solid and unmoveable anchors when they were trapped in the weighty pages of the Oxford dictionary. Now they float around in cyberspace.
It's less about shyness than about not giving a rats, although there doesn't seem to be a proper term for this. Existentialism, maybe.
That's not to say I go through life unconcerned about everything and everyone, just that I have given up caring about large sections of it.
Take the email we received this morning from the guy who has been positioning himself for the last 18 months to become the chairman of our homeowners' association.
I always have to pinch myself that there are people who actually want to do this kind of thing.
"The team of homeowners that actively participate on the website are fighting hard to make this a better place to live," he writes.
"We want you to be proud of your neighborhood and excited to have people visit you here. We DON'T want this to turn in to a transient apartment-like property where nobody takes pride in the fact that you're invested in this property. The more homeowners that engage in the idea, the less people that will treat OUR neighborhood like a dump.
"I'm offended by those people. They are lowering the value of a home that I purchased with hard earned money.
"Are you offended? Fight back. Get involved. Bring your knowledge to the forums and bring your complaints. Let's talk them over and formulate solutions. I dream of a neighborhood where you wouldn't dare blemish it because you know that 183 other passionate homeowners won't stand for it."
Sure C. - and I dream about a private apartment with a built in pool and umlimited supply of Ben and Jerry's and a big security guard on the gate who will ban all access to people who use capital letters in emails because it's a sign of passive aggression.
And no, I'm not offended by these people C. refers to and I have little desire to drive them out of our perfect community with an AK-47 in hand.
To some extent my reaction is driven by the fact he's referring to people who dump trash outside the dumpsters. And, let't face it, we've all been there. It's a rainy night, the dumpter's full and one faces the unpleasant dilemma of whether to leave it on the ground or to take it back home where it will be smelling even worse than before 12 hours later.
I can only conclude I need to be fighting against myself. But I'm not sure I can be bothered.
Also, if I had the energy I might point out to the Man who Would be Dictator, that property vales are more determined by the fact we were all dumb enough to buy in a plummeting market than by a few people offensive people missing the hole in the dumpster.
I'm even cynical about the idea of "hard earned money." I wouldn't be surprised if some people round here bought their dream condos on the proceeds of crack cocaine sales.
Does that count as hard earned money? Maybe it does because I'd rather be paid for eight hours making calls in an office than hanging out on the mean streets all night engaging in transactions that could end up with a bullet to the brain.
Life is relative and, if I wasn't so diffident, I'd take this guy aside and give him a synopsis of the genocide in Darfur. I'd tell him that at a poetry reading yesterday I read Wilfred Owen's Anthem to Doomed Youth.
"What passing bells for these who die as cattle/Only the monstrous anger of the guns."
Which reminds me that they probably didn't have storm doors in the trenches.
And that it's OK for me not to get excited about our new storm door. And if I don't grouch about the cost, do I really have to hang out in Lowe's for an hour while we agonize over designs that all look, frankly like doors to me?
But maybe I'm not playing this happy family, wholesome American communities thing the way I should be.
Maybe I should take an interest when my wife says.
"Dad, I'm putting all of his long sleeved ones down on the bottom."
Which is to say perhaps I shouldn't be someone who didn't even know he has long sleeved and short sleeved ones and who finds the whole thing about as stimulating as the Mutual Banking Code of Practice, which is the code of practice for Australia's credit unions.
So there.

2 comments:

  1. David, I'm with you on this one. Homeowners' Associations in general take themselves far too seriously, and the leaders tend to be people with very little real authority or imagination, who therefore think a hose left out on a front lawn is a serious problem, worthy of italics and threats.

    Don't fight against yourself, whatever you do. This is why I love etymological dictionaries. Mine says diffidence comes from the Latin originally meaning "a lack of trust" or "want of confidence." I never thought of the word as denoting shyness, but more of an unwillingness to engage. In view of the silliness quoted above, I can understand why.

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  2. I made my way to a blog that I really love!
    I'm with Meredith, David!She's said it all!
    Hope you have a nice Sunday!
    And thanks soo much for your lovely comments on my blog!:)
    Betty

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