Wednesday, June 4, 2008

In Which My True Nature is Revealed

Our neighborhood is next to a ritzier neighborhood. The place we live is nice, to be sure, but this place is truly Fancy Land. For two years, I've driven by it everyday, without ever going inside. It's gated, for one thing, so I couldn't just cruise through on a whim. Several of Laura's school friends live there, and though she's been to their houses a time or two, events had transpired so that I had never taken her or picked her up. I assumed that Fancy Land was like the other developments with huge houses that are springing up around here--enormous "homes" on tiny lots, mostly devoid of taste, and oozing pretense. Corinthian columns, anyone? Well.

So now just in the last week I've been over there twice. Friday Laura was invited to a swim and slumber party at Fancy Land's neighborhood pool, and the hostess (my double G&T playdate pal) invited me to stay and let Hank swim. Then Tuesday, one of the moms I chatted with at that party asked L to come for a playdate at their house. Both times, after I dropped Laura off, I drove around like a tourist and looked at the place.

So, um, Fancy Land is really really nice. Beautiful, even. For starters, their neighborhood pool is way bigger and better than ours. We have one pool and a little kiddie fountain. They have two pools (one is heated), a baby pool, and a waterslide. Not the vulgar kind of fiberglass waterslide that is up on poles. Please! Fancy Land's waterslide meanders down a hill through natural landscaping. Laura said she ran into some pampas grass. But anyway. Also, our playground is serviceable, but theirs is better. You get the picture.

And the houses in Fancy Land. Well, they ain't tacky, that's for sure. They're big, but not McMansionish. The architectural styles are nicely varied, and they're not totally jammed up against each other. This is due I think to the fact that Fancy Land is an older (like mid-to-late nineties) established neighborhood that predates a lot of the crazy Atlanta boom. The houses range from just barely nicer versions of our house to straight-up baronial splendor. Turns out that even in Fancy Land there is a Super Fancypants Enclave. It's on the golf course.

The other thing that sets FL apart from our humble 'hood is the landscaping. I really noticed it (in part because of the armies of laborers tending to it); every house had a beautiful and immaculately maintained landscape with varied plantings, flowers, the whole deal. I was also struck by how empty the roads were--there were people out walking, people at the pool, and people playing golf, but there weren't any cars on the road, except the landscaper crews. It was just very quiet. I guess the Jehovah's Witnesses can't get through the gates. This seems to me like a true advantage. I know there are some reasons that "gated communities" are thought of with disdain, and supposedly they have some soul-deadening properties, but right now I can't remember what they are. Maybe y'all could remind me.

Mostly what I was feeling as I drove around Fancy Land was pure desire. Like, wow, this would be the life. Twinned with that feeling was the knowledge of the enormous cost of living there--not the price of the houses but everything else, from the utilities, to the maintenance, to just the huge consumption footprint of it all. And how people are doing all that on one income ('cause many of them are) is beyond me. But still. . .

The other night I was describing the place to Matt, and I guess I must have looked a little down-in-the-mouth. He said, "Aww! Are you suffering from the knowledge that there are richer people living very nearby?"

Damn it! I hate it when he nails me like that.


Amy said...

That is hilarious! I love your description of Fancy Land. I'd always wondered what was in there when we drove past.

Maybe no one is in the streets cause they're tending to the crazy wife they have locked in their attic. And maybe they can afford it cause they're selling drugs. I'm sure even though it looks fab, they're all really miserable in their stunningly elegant homes.


wayne1725 said...

Okay, I can see that it is too late to instill in you the spirit of revolution that I thought you had absorbed in your mother's milk. I think maybe the best we can hope for is that before the partisans sweep through FL and its enclaves, I'll call with a coded message to make sure neither you nor the children are there. (You know that they only invite y'all so they can tell the other oppressors how they had some of the little people over for watercress sandwiches, don'tcha?) Power to the people!

I have always wondered though, do they really decant their whiskey into cut glass containers?


Wheatmiser said...

Does a Welch's jar count as cut glass?

And Becky: remember to store up your treasures in Heaven. Because in Heaven, you can be richer than your neighbors FOREVER.

David said...

Haha! I *just this moment* read the following in _Our Mutual Friend_:

"'Lor-a-mussy!' exclaimed Mrs. Boffin, laughing and clapping her hands and gaily rocking herself to and fro, 'when I think of me in a light yellow chariot and pair, with silver boxes to the wheels --'

'Oh! you was thinking that, was you, my dear?'

'Yes!' cried the delighted creature. 'And with a footman up behind, with a bar across, to keep his legs from being poled! And with a coachman up in front, sinking down into a seat big enough for three of him, all covered with upholstery in green and white! And with two big bay horses tossing their heads and stepping higher than they trot long-ways! And with you and me leaning back inside, as grand as ninepence! Oh-h-h-h My! Ha ha ha ha ha!'

Mrs. Boffin clapped her hands again, rocked herself again, and beat her feet upon the floor, and wiped her tears of laughter from her eyes."

Mind you, the Boffins already occupy what is, by far, the most comfortable and interesting domestic scene in the book.... So, yet again, Becky, I must ask you:



Becky said...

Lord, I am becoming a Dickens character. I'll probably wind up as Mrs. Jellyby, though, and Matt will be John Jarndyce (I always thought JJ was kind of hot).