The joys of homeownership overblown, but still needed

Home sales remain sluggish thanks to high interest rates and a shortage of homes for sale, and that is bad for America. Because as more Americans become lifelong renters, they will never experience the misery of owning a home.

My first home, which I bought as a broke freelance writer, was a fixer-upper in need of major renovations. Boy, did my father and I suffer when we renovated the bathroom. The project started well enough. We tore down the old wall tile and put up wallpaper and a tub surround. We painted the ceiling, then put down a new stick-on tile floor. All we had to do was reinstall the commode.

The bolts that had secured the toilet to the floor had both broken. The hardware store guy sold me a kit to reattach them. My father spent an hour reattaching the bolts. But as we attempted to fish the bolts through the commode’s bolt holes, we discovered they were too short. “Son of a … !” said my father. “The idiots gave us the wrong bolts!” I said.

I raced to the hardware store and bought longer bolts. My father spent another hour getting them in place. We were finally able to reattach the commode. But another problem arose: the wax goop that seals the commode to the sewage pipe wasn’t thick enough to seal anything. “Son of a … !” said my father. “The idiots gave us the wrong goop!” I said.

After another visit to the hardware store, our third attempt to secure the toilet succeeded. But we needed to reattach the water fittings. To reattach the water fittings, you have to wedge your body between the tub and the commode. Then you have to screw the water-line bolt, made of metal, into a plastic pipe coming from the commode. But they won’t screw together.

So you have to keep trying to screw them together until you bang your head on the commode, which makes you angry, so you attempt to stand quickly, which kicks the newly laid floor tile out of place, and then you bang your shin on the toilet, which causes you to throw whatever you’re holding through the bathroom window.

Eventually, we got the metal water-line bolt to screw into the plastic pipe — but we stripped the threads. When we turned the water back on, a leak sprouted that made Niagara Falls look like a lap pool. “Son of a … !” shouted my father. “The idiots!” I said.

I raced back to the hardware store and bought every plumbing fitting ever designed by man: glue, sealant, putty, rubber washers, pumps… Eventually, we got the commode installed. We got the sink installed. We sealed every leak. The miserable job took several hours more than we had planned.

The point: If more Americans experienced such miserable home-ownership experiences, they’d become grumpy and suspicious of political yarn spinners.

They’d never vote for politicians who print billions of new dollars to give us government goodies — the same fools whose reckless spending created massive inflation, which triggered high interest rates, which is why it’s nearly impossible for younger people to buy homes.

Nobody understands the need for common sense and good government policy better than a homeowner — especially a homeowner who is so broke he and his father have to do their own plumbing.

Copyright 2024 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. See Purcell’s syndicated column, humor books and funny videos featuring his dog, Thurber, at Email him at