Pop goes the cork. Ding-dong goes the bell. It’s time to watch House Hunters!
A couple make appreciative murmurs about the light fixture in the double-storey hall. They enter the kitchen. Will it meet expectations? What words will they say first?
Hand sweeps the counter: “I like the granite.” Drink.
“Oh, there’s an island.” Drink.
“No stainless.” Take a sip of water.
“But I really like the wooden floors.” Drink.
You watch, too, don’t you? House Hunters is everybody’s guilty, middle-aged secret. Either you are sharing the fantasy or you are deconstructing it. Come sit with us and see it for the game that it is.
My husband and I thought we would try our hand at making up some rules. House Hunters and a glass of wine? It’s a drinking game. And just in time for the holidays. If you’d rather not explain to your children what “drinking game” means then you could simply call it a “game” and use pennies.
This is a show not about the diversity of housing stock worldwide or the unique requirements of a particular couple or family but about the banality of human desire.
It is in the kitchen that features take on a feverish, lustful intensity, regardless of whether or not one cooks. Kitchens are the showroom of your private self. We have been conditioned to respond to particular signals, which have little to do with boring kitchen triangle theory and more to do with appearance of finish. Kitchens used to be at the back of the house but now they are at the center of the family room, with dazzling spotlights.
Developers know with a creepy, scientific exactitude what you want in a house so that they have attached what the agent calls an “upcharge” for each feature the couple lovingly caress in the model home. Yes, those are nice, that’s another $4,000. And they have taken away a square inch or foot here and there to make it back. It’s your turnkey fantasy, just a touch smaller than you would have ideally wanted, and an extra 20 minutes from work, but, mmm, fixtures, surfaces, and that closet.
While commuting time is often a factor, location, once the bottom line of property selection, is just background noise.
In our game, when the couple, walking through what my husband calls “the stimulus machine,” get what they want, you get a sip of wine; when they don’t, you get water. Sometimes something will be so awesome, like hardwood floors throughout, that everyone drinks.
Choose a room When the people get what they want in your room, you drink.
Granite, stainless, nice counters, updated cabinetry, island, hardwood, splashback tiling worthy of mention. Fail: florescent light in a box, faux granite, granite with really visibly cheap cabinets so that you are paying for a crappy approximation, a parody almost, of your heart’s desire. That hurts.
Master bedroom/ensuite bathroom
Big enough, walk-in closet, his & hers sinks. If the walk-in closet is impressive enough to be mentioned as an attribute of the house when they have the postmortem, you have to do a shot. Fail: pink tile. Funnily, in the US, a corner bath isn’t the kiss of death that it is in the UK. (This is about cultural conditioning, not intrinsic worth.)
Open feel, they decide where to put the TV, crown molding, archway, “Our furniture will fit great here.” Fail: tray ceiling, even if they’re happy about it.
Everyone drinks when the door bell rings, because that’s the name of the game; the househunter is unable to name a basic feature—banister, wainscoting, alcove—and instead waves at it and says “I like that…”; bonus area; making memories; husband says: “The color is just not me.”
Weird personality issue with househunter or animosity between agent and couple You call it early on and it’s yours; when it is made manifest you can make everyone drink. If it’s really bad even the narrator will allude to it.
Let’s drive on the wrong side of the road. Everyone drinks for: no kitchen appliances, house opens onto busy road, box room with bad smell, chicken in yard, small tiled room with drain.
Close of play When the second doorbell rings at the third property everyone needs to guess which house the househunters will choose. Then, off to bed, lock up, don’t forget to run the dishwasher.
Believe it or not, I only went to Hulu for the first time last night as I was searching for a screengrab of The Bob Newhart Show. It looks like you can watch shows and type commentary about them to your Facebook newsfeed as you watch. So if you wanted to play Ding-Dong with another family or friend you could. It could become kind of a community thing. But just remember, as we are busy thinking that stainless and granite are the last word in kitchens ever, our parents had avocado green appliances and conversation pits. And everything goes in cycles.
Feel free to submit additional rules of play.