I’m getting a new central air conditioner today. It’s been dying a slow and painful death since Alex was a wee babe and we’ve put it off because, well, it hadn’t entirely bit the bucket. The guy came to install it and was all, “Holy shit, I can’t believe they hooked it up like this. It could have blown up.”

“Holy shit, I can’t believe XXX” is about what I think when I think back to our old first floor bathroom, so I think he and I are going to get along fabulously.


(yes, yes that’s right, Pranksters. That IS three types of wallpaper in that tiny room. And, why yes! How astute of you to notice that it’s GLUED TO THE FUCKING DRYWALL. GOD, that was a bitch to get off.)

Anyway. I couldn’t be happier to have this installed, even though it’s costing me a couple of G’s.

As I told The Daver this morning, “Hey, it beats the condo.” He laughed knowingly.

Back when I didn’t know better, The Daver and I bought a three bedroom condo in Oak Park. It was a beautiful red brick building, right on the edge of an “up-and-coming neighborhood.” (in this case, “up-and-coming” means “on the edge of the ghetto”)

Our condo was a charming thing, all tall ceilings and dark wood floors. Very beautiful.

Until we moved in.

It was only then when I realized what “vintage” really meant. It meant, “you’re a fucking sucker.”

We had a radiator in the basement, one that heated all of the units, and, well, it was on when it was on and when it wasn’t on, it was still on. Our condo was right below it, so during the winter, it wasn’t uncommon to see me walking around in a tank top and shorts.

We’d gone to a Condo Board Meeting to learn that our poor radiator was on it’s last legs…and there were no funds from our condo dues to pay for it. It cost something like ten billion dollars.

We’d just shelled out five grand for a new back porch.


And the lead-paint covered windows that may as well have been screens for all the air they kept out? Well, if we wanted to replace those, they were a thousand dollars.


A thousand dollars.


We had something like ten windows. Ten grand (plus installation!) for windows. Windows NOT made of solid gold.

See, we needed to get specialty windows – replicas of the original – to match building code.

(fuck you, vintage)

When we added fans (and learned about the faulty wiring that may have killed us in a fiery blaze, had we not gone up and fixed it) in our condo in the summer because it was 8000000 degrees and window AC units don’t work so well when the windows allow hot air to pour in? Well, we were in trouble with the condo board for not using their electrician.

I have never been happier to move back to the land of the pre-fab.

At least now, when our AC unit craps out on us, I can buy a FLOOR MODEL and have it installed. It’s not specially carved by small children in Zimbabwe to match my house. It’s just an AC unit.

And when I decide to recarpet my house, it will be regular carpet, not carpet hand-crafted on the backs of seventeen vestal virgins.

Which is fortunate. I don’t even know what a vestal virgin is.

32 thoughts on “When “Vintage” Means “You’re An Idiot.”

  1. We’re just starting to crawl in to the Money Pit now. However, even though our house is 90 yrs. old, we OWN it and it’s not on the historical register! I am jealous that you are getting central a/c – I misplaced the ten grand we had just laying around to get ours installed.

    BTW, that bathroom is fugly. 😉 xx

  2. OMFG that wallpaper is like the shit they had in this house when we moved in. I got so pissed that it wouldn’t come off, that I painted over those parts and put really heavy furniture in front of it. Our bathroom was lovely though, pepto bismal pink with sea green trim. I was under the impression Pepto was supposed to help alleviate nausea not induce it. :/

  3. Thank GOd you got rid of that horrid bathroom. Frilly decorative towel and smelly bath gel could not save it. I hope you never had to potty train anyone in it–the nightmares!

    Hubby had to peel similar 1970s crap from our little loo walls when we moved in. Peeled off the wall along with the paper. Took me tons of cash, patience, and years of work to fix it MYSELF. I do NOT let Hubby near anything anymore (except me occasionally.)

    Enjoy your cool air.

  4. Did I not mention I was a Vestal Virgin? Oh, yes, but that’s a blog post, in itself. You are sooooo right about vintage. It only works with clothes; otherwise, you both need to be making gazillions a month! With that wallpaper, you don’t have to worry about anyone spending forever in the bathroom!

  5. Ha! I grew up in Choke Park, so I know what you mean about codes and snottiness in general. I couldn’t afford to move back there in a million years.

  6. Ah, the joys of home ownership. Hubby and I just finished updating our condo, which isn’t century-old, but is 30 years old and needed lots of upgrades to be marketable. We’ve discussed whether we want to move somewhere where we could do the same types of improvements, or choosing a place that’s already fixed up.

    I’m thinking we’ll settle somewhere in the middle, or just build something ourselves when we’re ready to buy, mainly because we do like the idea of having things the way we want them. If we do buy something much older, I insist on the wiring, plumbing, etc already being upgraded. I just can’t stand the idea of gutting out a house to fix those kinds of issues!

  7. I have a theory. When you are moving into a new house, everything is $1000. No matter what you need, it’s a $1000. New washer/dryer…1000. New fridge? 1000. New furniture to fill some room? 1000. Retile dining room? 1000. Repaint house? 1000. Plumbing repairs? 1000. It just goes on and on.

  8. As a Realtor, I have personally been responsible over the last decades for selling people many charming vintage homes where they can experience the joy of trying to remove mastic (sort of like nuclear tar)stuck to hardwood floors after old linoleum floors were removed. And wallpaper, and horrible “improvements” to kitchen and baths. In my own previous home, the owners painted all of the woodwork in the bathroom with hideous silver marine paint, which has the life expectany of rock. It has to be blasted off. But I’m still a vintage junkie.

  9. I watch too much HGTV, so I’m terrified to buy a house because Mike Holmes has me convinced that it will be full of mold and termites and old wiring and bad plumbing and monsters and poltergeists…UGH

  10. I’m beginning to believe that the phrase “I can’t believe they hooked it up this way” followed immediately by the suggestion that you are lucky to still be alive is the first thing that A/C, plumbing, and electrical technicians learn in trade school.

  11. good thing that you are redoing the bathroom,three kids of wallpaper attracts zombies. The center for disease control says so. Ok they don’t. And for my rant today, they mention NOTHING of gun control or proper chain saw techniques to defend yourself in their official ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE release. I think its awesome, other than the lack of defense techniques. I know, im SO off topic. I blame ADHD.

  12. I feel your monetary pain. We need a new central a/c unit (and new ductwork) and we desperately need new windows. To afford these fabulous things, we need the property my husband and his siblings inherited to sell. Fun times all around.

  13. There was a radiator in the basement and your condo was below it? Like your condo was below the basement? That sounds kinda dark and depressing. No wonder you needed to move. And life is excellent in the summer with an air conditioner. Worth every penny.

  14. Do you want to know why I don’t let my husband decorate? I showed him the bathroom pic and asked for an opinion. His answer? “Pretty!”

  15. Meh, vestal virgins are snobby bitches from what I have heard.

    And they make your carpet smell like that old lady solid rose perfume that they got from Avon in the 1800’s.

    We are getting new carpet for Boo’s room now he has stopped using it as a urinal. It is called Party Proof. We will see.

  16. Love the wooden toilet seat cover. Put that one on ebay… When my husband and I bought our first house ten years ago, the woman and been watching a LOT of HGTV and had used her powers for evil. EVIL. In one room, she put joint compound on the wall in textured waves and painted it to match the curtains. A little blue, a little pink, a little yellow… are you kidding me? Ever tried to sand joint compound? We had to buy scrapers and physically rip that crap down. At one point we considered removing the drywall. And then there was the “exploded salmon” room, the school bus room, the “Angry, angry, angry room”. Took us two weeks on constant prep and paint before we were done. Thank goodness this was before the little people!

  17. I think a vestal virgin is a girl who has only been f*cked by a dude wearing a neon green studded condom. That’s what my grandma told me.

  18. Ooooh, I love restrictive building codes! So! Much! Fun. My neighbors decided that garages that could hold two cars and a bicycle were too useful and desirable and had to go. You can only have more than 480 square feet if the extra footage has a different roofline and a wall separates the areas – because god forbid homeowners can store their own stuff in their own garages in the way they want. That kind of freedom can kill a country as great as ours. the historical district is creeping up the hill to me, so a neighbor can no longer remove a cement stoop from the 1940s from a house from the 1890s because the stopp is not historical, even tho’ it doesn’t actually match the design of the house. It all makes so much sense!! Of course I want a $1000 window – it is so exclusive (and rare).

  19. I grew up in a house with push-button light switches. That’s not Vintage, it’s old. Don’t ever live in a Historical Landmark…groan…

    A Vestal virgin was a woman who served in the temple of Vesta, Roman goddess of home and hearth. By “served” I mean…er…served…ahem. Because she was in the “service” of the Goddess, she was considered still a virgin when she left the temple. Those Roman god/desses were all about some hospitality…and I know some obscure shit…

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  20. We bought our house from the original owners, who had it built in 1972 and had some interesting decoration decisions. The master bedroom was somewhat modern, if overly frilly. The kitchen was completely redone. But the other bedrooms in the house were their original electric blue & hot pink shag-carpeted greatness, seeing as the kids had moved out.

    Because the homeowners didn’t like the feeling of cold tile on bare feet, they went & had all of the bathrooms carpeted. And, then they had the 1/2 bath wallpapered with glue. Including the ceiling. It took us a full two weekends to try to get that shit off, and we took more drywall than anything else. For awhile we went with “starving artist bathroom,” but now have a “funky” textured appearance, having just put stucco everywhere & painting it.

    If we ever sell the house, I’m fairly confident that we’re going to have to pay to have the entire bathroom re-drywalled.

  21. I have no tales. Just wanted to know you had me in tears laughing. Also would like to know who would have designed the solid gold windows? Seeing as the vestal virgins and small children from Zimbabwe already have their assignments.

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