March 27, 2012

March 27, 2012

Trouble Down Below

Ever had something you thought was universal turn out not to be so? Maybe the restaurant on the corner closed down, or your best friend moved far away, or your municipality finished the year under budget. It’s disconcerting, right?

I’ve been having that experience lately, as I encounter more and more people who do not have a basement.

Now, depending on your personal circumstances, you either responded to that statement with:

“Well, yeah.”


“Wait, WHAT?!”

As you know, I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Middle West, United States, Earth. In that part of the world, we have basements. We store things there, like our furnaces, our deep sinks, and our spare refrigerators. Our outdoor equipment, too, since most of it can only be used during the six weeks of summer. Whether you call them cellars or basements, they are incredibly handy places. Where else would Dorothy Gale’s family have hidden from that tornado, I ask you? The garage?

[Basements are also mildly terrifying until one reaches adolescence. They’re dark, they’re damp, and they’re filled with strange noises. Some movie or other of my childhood—perhaps Home Alone—included a scene where the furnace appeared to be coming alive. Been there, had that freakout.]

So here I am, haplessly living a quarter century assuming that basements are a universal aspect of modern-day dwellings. Door, check. Bedrooms, check. Basement, check.

Then I meet TheBoy and learn that people in Houston didn’t have basements because it’s too humid and they’d turn into enclosed swamps or some such. OBVIOUSLY, HEATHER.

[One might incredulously ask whether I met nobody from the South—or any other geographical region—during my stint at college. I would remind that one that my school had about the same diversity as Harvard’s graduating class. Of 1699.]

Yesterday, I find out that many (all?) people in the southwest don’t have basements because the ground is too hard and/or dry.

I don’t get it. It’s like the concept of a carport. Without a garage, where do you keep your snowblower? And your shovels? And your rock salt?

No wonder hoarding is becoming such an issue. Most of America has nowhere to stow their stuff. I’m not definitively stating that requiring everyone to have a basement will solve America’s hoarding issue. I’m tentatively suggesting it.

Did you have a basement? Do you now?

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