My girlfriend and I found a dead mouse in a house we were looking at with our realtor. Our realtor casually moved the mouse (using a protective paper towel) toward the front of the cabinet under the sink and left the cabinet doors open, so when the listing agent ran across it he'd get the message that the place needed help. (We've looked at several places that I'd only consider buying if HGTV's Homes on Homes came as a package with the sale.)
But it also made me think we could move the dead mouse around to other houses; if it was a home we liked we could leave it there on display to scare off other prospective buyers.
And then that made me think: How desperate am I, that this was even something I seriously considered? I admit, for a moment there was the thought that we have 4 cats between us, and while we were worried about how they'll all get along together, if there were mice this would occupy them; it could even bond them together in common enemy: rodentia.
But what happens to one's brain when one has all this on the mind and is also watching a great deal of period-set film and television, is this: Would life be that much easier if I were a man, if we were a couple, in the, say, 1950s, or 60s? In the Mad Men era, for instance, when every couple has a shot at the American Dream: A home, a car, and the job you need to have that home and car. That home in the early 60s cost an average of $17,000. (A deluxe condo in Oakland here in the Bay Area would have cost around $22,500.) [Who knows how much the Draper home would've cost then, but today it would be a million dollars+.]
Of course, you adjust for cost of living -- average income in the early 60s was about 6K a year, but ad men on Madison Ave would've made considerably more. If I was around then, let's say I'd be a junior level ad copy writer (probably the kind of job I'd have back then, in days long before the internet). Or maybe a newspaper journalist or film critic. Let's say I'd make more like 10-11K a year. A house could cost me only double my yearly salary, as opposed to now, at least in many parts of California, where it costs more like 10 times (or more) as much as my yearly wages.
Mad Men, it should be noted, also shows how it was just as easy to have existential crises back then, feelings of inadequacy as a man (or woman), depression about one's life. Any time I dream of a time machine, I am reminded of an ingenious recent Daily Show bit about the frequent refrain from mostly right wing news commentators who want to hearken back to "simpler, better times." But as John Oliver discovered, all those eras people get nostalgic for had their own plentiful problems.
But it wasn't even that long ago that homes were more plentiful, and competition for them less fierce. And as mentioned earlier, it goes without saying that if I lived in South Dakota I could afford a mansion -- except I'd be in South Dakota making a lot less than I make here.
Then there was the mortgage crisis, which has made lenders far more hesitant and far less numerous.
So the American Dream isn't at all dead. We can still buy a home. There are ways to do things. But we not only need more help than we used to (gifts from family, loans, etc.), it's a lot more complicated to pull off than it was decades ago. There is less space on the planet. There are more people. There are more complicated financial laws and a lot of trouble connected to them. There is a rather high percentage of professional jobs located in a relative few number of popular cities. We have a lot of debt. Need to make more money and we're making only the same, or less.
It all drives you to do things like consider leaving a dead mouse in a vacant home.
And it drives people -- who have had a home foreclosed -- to lose their home, and then have someone desperate to sell it, so desperate that they'll neglect to check for dead mice in the kitchen. Or to care.