I’ll never forget visiting the home of a lifelong friend of my grandparents when I was a kid. It was an estate, actually. And like any estate worth its salt, it had a name: Broadfields.
Three details about the house stick in my mind: 1) There were buttons in nearly every room that rang a buzzer in the kitchen and indicated the room from which the signal came. 2) In addition to buttons mounted on the walls, a mound in the carpet under the dining room table concealed a switch that the hostess could press with her foot. For a kid who loved lights and switches and buzzers and buttons, this was the stuff of dreams. I did not then – nor can I now – comprehend that these wonderful devices would actually summon a member of the household staff. So much for being able to press buttons whenever I wanted.
The third detail was a Bentley with a driver named Thomas. It was a family car, though it’s hard to imagine doing anything practical like grocery shopping, giving rides to sweaty kids after a soccer game, or bringing home a few bags of compost. Can’t picture pumping my own gas at Costco in a Bentley. But I digress…
Broadfields always inspired me to give names to my homes, be they ever so humble. Another inspiration came from “Stately Wayne Manor,” home of Batman’s alter-ego Bruce Wayne.
But we drive two almost 20 year-old cars, neither of which would ever be mistaken for a Bentley. We do have a buzzer with a button at the kitchen sink. No servants are summoned; we use it instead of standing at the top of the stairs and shouting, “Time for dinner!” Though we love our home, it’s not really the sort of place that says “manor.”
Center for Casual Living is much more descriptive. The vacuum hose sometimes doesn’t get put away for days or weeks at a time. We’re hesitant to replace carpeting because it contains so much of our family history. Our bedroom also serves as an intermediate stop for things on their way to Goodwill or for sale on Craigslist. Current inventory in the loading dock/bedroom includes an electronic keyboard, a telescope, a small TV and old VCR, and some shelving.
Center for Casual Living. I should make a sign – there’s probably a nice scrap of lumber somewhere in our bedroom, and some paint, too…