If there was a twelve-step program for my most peculiar jones, I would probably have to confess something like this: "Hi, my name is (whatever it is this week) and I'm addicted to house porn."
Yes, sad to say it's true, but like the teen with the fashion magazine addiction in the film Mumford, I love to look through magazines with glossy photos of beautiful architecture, amazing floor plans, exquisitely furnished rooms and gorgeous landscaping. I think it's the lack of clutter that seduces me, plus the fact that everything looks like art instead of a place your kids can wreck, your guy will track mud into and your dog may upchuck on.
I know it's a silly, frivolous addiction, and I've done pretty well managing it. I don't let myself impulse buy them anymore, and I've whittled down my subscriptions to the two I can't live without (Architectural Digest and Veranda.) I really thought nothing could tempt me again. But today as I was at the grocery store shopping, I saw this new addition on the mag rack:
Yep. It's not just house porn, it's mansion porn. After I picked my jaw up off my sneakers I grabbed it and checked the price: $7.99 -- as much as a paperback novel. I wasn't going to pay that for a magazine just because I instantly fell in love with the cover. Then the magazine sort of fell into the cart and I didn't notice it was there until I checked out, and then, you know, it was too late to put it back without holding up the entire line, so --
All right. I bought the damn thing. It was just this one time, okay?
I didn't thumb through it, and I probably should have, because it's actually a real estate magazine for billionaires. Inside there are mansions. Chateaus. Islands. Enormous estates in exotic places. Practically every home listed comes with a beautiful name: Acqua Liana (cover)*. Lions Gate. Coeur d'Alene. There's even a castle in Umbria that comes with a title -- for eleven million dollars, you could become an Italian Count.
These are not ranch houses, obviously -- every other one comes with a heliport and two or three panic rooms and probably interior waterfalls. The house on the cover has a glass "water" floor, for God's sake. Imagine trying to clean that with your Swiffer. Or what would happen if your spouse happened to accidentally drop their bowling ball case.
But when I got home and got over the guilts for falling off the wagon, I settled down with a cup of tea and looked through all the lovely pictures to my heart's content. In the process I came up with five or six story ideas and solved a problem with one of my settings. Sometimes we're addicted to frivolous things for a reason.
But I also paid for falling in love with a beautiful magazine cover, because inside this was the only other image of that room:
But that's okay, I found another shot of it in this article about the mansion. And I might sketch it or paint it, and build my own house around it, and work a variation of it as a setting for my next book, but that's all. I promise. I mean, $7.99 an issue, that's just ridiculous . . .
Do you think they give you a decent discount on the subscription rate?
*It has a web site, too -- the mansion is listed for sale at $29,000,000.00 U.S.