House Stalking

Jay Johnson -- Hello, Design Fans. You know who you are. You love everything about decorating, paint, furniture, antiques, flea markets, the entire lineup of HGTV, and all the articles in your huge stack of glossy shelter magazines. Don't deny your obsession.

I'm design obsessed, too. I'll admit it. In a recent New York Times -- the House & Home section, of course -- there was an eye-opening article about the phenomenon of house stalking. There are people all around the country who are obsessed with other people's homes. They said it's a natural phenomenon to covet your neighbor's stone-covered exterior. It's okay to salivate over their ornate garden and cool trelliswork. Go ahead and hate that privacy fence because it blocks the view of their rec room. And it's normal if you can't help walking or driving by at night when all the lights are on and you can see all the details inside other people's homes: artwork on the walls, lamps and chandeliers ablaze, happy people around a dinner table.

230px-Stalking.gifThe article tells how people progress in their house stalking stages, from simple envy (healthy) all the way to gotta-have-this-house lust (unhealthy). What are the symptoms of unhealthy house stalking? You pause in your car in front of The House. You find yourself frequenting The House's neighborhood. You begin to chat with The House's neighbors as if they were your own. You look at for the real estate specifics about The House. You progress from simple Drooler/Admirer to official Sick Puppy.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house!

In the over 200 home videos contained in my Design2Share Video Diary on YouTube, you will see many examples where I have taken my video camera -- a sturdy palm-sized Radio Shack $99 camtastic special -- and walked strange streets in order to videotape houses I lusted after. Exhibit A, Your Honor, is this video: Bear at the DoorIt details an instance of my guilty house-stalking pleasure, ending in a barking dog, protective of his turf, coming to the door and alerting the homeowners that a stranger was videotaping their private property. It might have felt strange to have been on the receiving end of a house stalker's video cam, but I have no empathy with my stalking victims. I just want to take the vid, then sign off! If you like to house stalk, stick with me and I'll show you around a lot of strange and fascinating neighborhoods.

I would love to hear from anyone who has house stalked before. Perhaps you know someone who has lusted after your home or your neighbor's house. Tell me all about it . . . .


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