This is the kind of opening sentence that should come with a narcolepsy warning, but I have spent the last four days positively wracked by two vent openings going into my house. I don’t mention this because I think you care about vent openings, but because it’s a metaphor for a larger concept.
Let’s look at them, shall we? Above is a poorly-visualized shot of a new dryer vent I made, something you don’t (AND IF LIFE WAS HOLY, SHOULDN’T) ever think about, but I believe a family of roomy hedgehogs took up residence in the original duct. That, and I lost a lint brush in there somewhere, meaning there was a horrible fire-hazardy pipe leading through the duodenum of this ancient farmhouse.
So I invented a new way for dryer lint and humidity to escape the house: pipe it up and over the dryer, and out the side door. Sounds easy enough, right? IT WAS A GODDAMN NIGHTMARE. I won’t even go into why, but I consider myself lucky not to have run into an unexploded ordinance from the first World War.
How about another one? Take this unsightly piece of shit, for example:
That, my friends, is a “split” air conditioner for our kitchen, the kind you hoist onto a wall so it can whisper sweet nothings into your air while the boxy compressor outside does all the dirty work.
Does it work? No.
All this to say: if you look at a house as an organism, it behaves the same way any organism behaves when you try to construct a conduit from its inside to its outside. Think of catheters and I.V. shunts, the awkward transition from “inside you” to “plastic and metal implements outside you” and you’ve got the idea.
We get infections in the squamous-like entry/exit points in our body – the nose, the mouth, the ears, the arse. It’s as though our physical being looks upon those holes as weak points to be defended. And like a house, if you try to puncture a gap, force a reckoning, it responds defensively.
I think the same can be said for computer printers, which have long been the wolfsbane for anyone living in digital. Everything is awesome as long as you stay in the comfort of software and binary code, but god forbid you try to commit something to paper. Even now, printers wheeze, suck paper (unsuccessfully) through gears and splurt expensive ink where it doesn’t belong.
The key? Yes, you guessed it: lubrication and caulk. For some reason, all organisms like their within/without portals to be well-oiled and flexible. Greasing the hole just seems to work no matter what, and if you’ve got a layer of bendable silicon keeping all foreign material out, then you’re in business.
Why am I drawn to such comparisons? Maybe I’ve always loved the idea of a house as a living, breathing organism that responds to insult and injury the same way we would. It imbues a little magic in the mundane, and always makes for an imaginative backstory, the way a room can be a different place every time you enter, and how a wardrobe can open into a thousand adventures.
And so, allow me to return to work; I’ve got a can of aviation lubricant and a copper flange, and need to fuck my house in the ass.