Winter, 2012–2013 / No. 29
Art by Matthew Daley
Matthew Daley

I’ll eat your house. I’ll eat your house, and then you’ll have nowhere to live. Where will you put your books and your bicycle? Where will you put your winter coat? Your jar of dried lentils? The framed photograph of your mother standing beside Carol Channing? I will not eat your house because I am hungry, nor out of any ill will I harbour toward you. I will not eat your house because it was poorly constructed, nor because it is in violation of any bylaws, nor because it stands in the path of a highway I’d like to build.

I do not know the number on your front door nor the street on which your house stands. You have never invited me to your house.

I will don my bib and wander the streets. My bib bears a picture of a lobster wearing a bib bearing a picture of a lobster. It will protect me from getting any house on the front of my shirt. If I ate your house, then went into work with house on the front of my shirt, my boss would not be pleased. It would be inappropriate for me to enter my workplace wearing my lobster bib with a lobster bib.

To enter the building where I work, I am equipped with a card with a magnetic stripe. I have put a Post-it note on the card, and the Post-it note says: “REMOVE BIB.”

But I have a fear. I fear that as I approach my workplace, one of my workmates will be leaving, and she will hold the door open for me, and so I won’t need my card with the magnetic stripe to get in and will therefore not see the Post-it note I wrote for myself. She would only open the door for someone she knew, so I must ensure that she doesn’t recognize me. I will buy a rubber face mask that has been manufactured to look like the face of an unpopular politician or a television celebrity. The woman will therefore not recognize me, and so she will close the door behind her, and I will need my striped card to enter and will see the Post-it note, and if I am wearing my bib I will remove it.

Although I have told no one about my plans to eat your house, many people have approached me to ask me how I am going to eat your house. It’s possible that you told them, but I don’t know how you could know, because I only just told you about sixty seconds ago.

This is how I had planned to eat your house. Originally, I had planned to eat your house from the foundations up. But then I realized the house would collapse on me. I didn’t need to be an engineer to figure that out. And I am not an engineer. You do not want your house to collapse on me and I do not want your house to collapse on me. If it was a cartoon house, it is possible that I could begin eating it from its foundations, and if I ate fast enough, it would hover in the air until I finished eating, and then there would be a little puff of smoke drifting into the sky. Because your house is not a cartoon house, I cannot begin with the foundations.

A house has a top so rain cannot get in. I could eat your house by starting at the top. For this, I would need to bring a ladder or else find a ladder in your garage, if your house has a garage. One of the notable things about tops of things is that they are high. I, as a person, am very frightened when it comes to heights. I will not be eating your house starting from the top.

You heard me right. I will not eat your house starting from the top, because the top is high, nor will I eat your house starting from the bottom, because of the collapsing issue due to your house not being a cartoon.

Phone calls, telegrams, and letters to the editor of some of the most prominent journals are all asking the same thing: What will be my strategy for eating your house?

And I say, why don’t they ask instead where you will live once I have eaten your house? Will you remain in the city or will you move elsewhere? Will you take your few belongings and board a bus? Will you find a remote patch of beach and settle in to start a new civilization there? A civilization marked by empathy and compassion, one where people don’t step on the heads of others so that they may benefit at the expense of their fellow citizens. A civilization where each person is guaranteed a basic living stipend and where labourers and artists can walk with dignity, and not have to forage for potato peelings that have not yet gone mouldy. Where free health care and free education is guaranteed for all. Lost in Space plays on every television, followed by My Mother the Car and Mr. Terrific. This is the sort of civilization you could nurture, if only you would take responsibility for your own decisions and for the eating of your house.

When I eat your house, I will eat it respectfully and thoughtfully. Don’t concern yourself with whether I start from the bottom or from the top. You’ve got enough on your plate right now.