Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The American garage (pronounced "ga-RAHj") is an endless source of fascination for me.

Typically double - at least in my neck of Suburbia - and frequently triple or even quadruple, garages are the most prominent feature of the front of many houses (
ours included); brash, bold, unmistakable evidence of the importance of the automobile in American life. And since they are attached directly to the house and often even heated, they could be considered a bedroom for the family's four-wheeled "relatives".

More often than not, garages are also the principal entrance to a house. We, for instance, nearly never use the front door except to receive and jettison guests. And since there's a door directly linking the back of the garage with the house, it's a good place to take off dirty shoes or get to/from your car without getting wet.

Best of all, garages offer plenty of storage space. Due to the way houses are built here, there isn't a loft, attic or cellar to put seasonal equipment and other temporarily superfluous items in. That leaves only one option: the garage. And boy, do people take advantage of this.

Now I don't know what you put in your attic, but I'm pretty sure that, like me, you use it to store all the things you don't need every day, but are reluctant to throw away: cartons of books, school trophies and memorabilia, every picture your children ever drew, odd ski poles, clothes, toys and stacks of your grandmother's World War II-era magazines.

Given that Americans are no less prone than their European cousins to hoarding, they have to put all these useless essentials somewhere. That's where the garage comes in.

Unfortunately, as one wise person pointed out to me, this means that people fill their garages with worthless junk, while their expensive cars rust outside.