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Getting Used to a Crooked House

Robert Klose lives in a crooked house, and he likes it that way. As a first-time homebuyer, he was initially alarmed by all the noise his century-old house generated. At every sound, Robert would sit up and say, "The place is falling apart." Seventeen years later, he's used to it. It's other people, like his carpenter Mike, who don't appreciate it. "Bob, your house is crooked," Mike declared.

He was right. I could see it in the floors, the ceilings, the roofline, the doorjambs, even the window frames. Drop a ball on the floor, and it will roll away into oblivion. Open a door and don't worry about forgetting to close it—she'll take care of that herself. There are windows that haven't been opened in years because they can't be….

Mike the carpenter worked for me with great reluctance. I understood his frustration—his measurements meant nothing, because nothing in my house was square, nothing was level, and it seemed that, in places, nothing was holding the place together.

Mike's advice? "Get out while the gettin's good."

Once Robert concluded that fixing the crooked house was impossible, he was left with only two choices: sell it or live with it. Robert decided to live with it. In fact, he grew to love the "inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies" of the old place. Now, when confronted with brand new, perfectly straight homes, Mike admits he has "never once looked at these new houses with anything resembling longing."

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