Shiny Happy People

I'm perusing the newspapers today, eying the real estate sections, and — tell me if you've ever noticed this — everyone featured in builders' ads is positively giddy. Or, if it's for an adult community, over-the-top laughing older folk.

It scares me.

You know, I drive by a lot of peoples' homes — young and old — and rarely do I see them guffawing and laughing. Sometimes they're gardening, maybe washing the car. But, it isn't Comedy Central and they aren't doing standup.

So, why the laughing thing?

I asked a builder friend of mine who says it's meant to get the upbeat, coziness of home ownership across.

I'm not buying it. It's "Solyent Green" (search) meets "The Stepford Wives" (search). Norman Bates checks in on the Cleevers.

Kids laughing. Parents laughing. Grandparents laughing. Maybe they're laughing because they can't figure how the heck they're going to pay the new mortgage. I'm thinking everyone in the family has snapped.

Go ahead, look in your real estate section. I defy you to find a pensive couple, or a down couple.

Pensive and down doesn't sell. Giddy, even crazy, does. There's one ad with a father riding his kid's tricycle and having a blast. I'm thinking to myself, “lock him up!”

The builder wants you to see them positively ecstatic. So why look like you're popping lithium? I think we make some profound assumptions in advertising. Like those other ads featuring couples joking and laughing in a car dealership. I don't know about you, but that experience is very close to root canal for me. But again, that's me.

Don't get me wrong: I'm a hugger. But even I try to keep my distance from crazy people. I might consider buying their home. But first, I suggest, put them "in" a home. Just not the one I'm looking at.

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