Sunday, January 22, 2006

Shakespeare was Right

The Home Office is about to relocate to wholly-owned digs to provide you, dear reader, with the service you deserve. There will be the inevitable fits and starts along the way; this is only to be expected at my advanced age. As in any real estate transaction, lawyers will enter into it. As in any real estate transaction so close to Our Nation’s Capital, (aka the Bend Over and Spread Your Legs Capital of the World), lawyers will enter into it where you least expect them.

The property in question is a townhouse, part of a Homeowners Association. This association isn’t so bad: the Master Deed and By-Laws run a mere 31 pages. The original Home Office resided in an association which by-laws were sent over in a heavy-duty binder. Why the Andover Heights Condominium needs 31 pages while the Constitution of the United States can get by with three is a question for greater minds than mine, and there is no shortage of those.

People around the country sometimes wonder why housing prices escalate so much in the DC area. The only local industry is government, and we’re in the midst of a presidential administration originally elected in large part due to its devotion to reducing the size and expense of government.

Reading my condo documents has explained a lot. I thought I was just buying a house; just last night I found out that what I’m buying “is basically a rectilinearly shaped parallelepiped.” Damn right that’s worth more money than just a house.

And it’s not just the physical parallelepiped; we get air—front and back—too. The front of our humble rectilinearly shaped parallelepiped “is a vertical plane through the forwardmost point of the roof, so as to include all of the wall and air space directly under overhangs, if any.” (Emphasis added.) Thank God we got that squared away.

I understand this level of detail is designed to avoid confusion about who has to fix what should the excrement hit the thermantidote. That being said, maybe even more confusion could be avoided if the terms were easily understandable by someone with a Masters degree. (Granted, it’s in music, but still.)

What possible reason could there be for this paroxysm of obfuscation? Wouldn’t everyone benefit if the terms could be discussed without a background in surveying or geometry? Why must every circumstantiality be formulated in such recondite argot? Wait, though this be madness, there is method in’t.

Who might benefit from such elutriated phraseology? Among all the people potentially involved in a real estate transaction, who might possess the expertise to procure and perpetuate such atypical cognition? Could it be someone who can choose to look it up every time it crosses his desk and bill you for rectifying his alleged ignorance?

A lawyer, perhaps?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in delayed gratification. I’ve waited fifty years to become the principal trumpet of a major orchestra, and I’m willing to wait another fifty. It will be worth it. Aside from the house hunting and the mortgage company’s anal probes, buying the domain of which you will be the master should be a joyful experience. How secure can anyone feel in their domicile if they aren’t sure they have an understanding of the rules to which they will be subjected? Why should anyone have to go hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, then have to pay some pettifogger to explain to them that their rectilinearly shaped parallelepiped is as defined, “notwithstanding the definition of general common elements presently set forth in Article 21, Section 117A(g) of the Annotated Code of Maryland (1957 edition as amended).” Just so they don’t confuse it with Article 21, Section 117A(h)?

In Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part II, Cade promises a utopian society, should he ever become king. Seven half-penny loaves will cost a penny; three-hooped pots will have ten hoops; it will be a crime to drink small beer. (I have no idea what any of that means. It still makes as much sense as my condo documents.) His friend, Dick, sees an obstacle, and offers a simple, effective solution.

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.”

To which Cade replies, “Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentablething, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since.

I’d trade the pleonasm of my association docs for that loquacity any day. I’d vote for Cade for king, too. I’m not sure what he means by that small beer and ten-hooping stuff, but I’ll bet he doesn’t say nuke-ular.

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