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Anatomy of the House

It’s no secret that the All-American suburban house plays a more than negligible role in my stories. I wouldn’t be surprised if over 95% of everything I’ve ever written had a house of some sort in it. To ask why that’s the case might not be a question worth asking. After all, my stories are about families, and the location that a family shares with each other, obviously, is the house. Where else am I supposed to set the lion’s share of my work?

But, with that being said, is it fair to sum up the entirety of the essence of houses in my stories as exclusively a product of necessity? Could a motif so ubiquitous in a body of work just be what its storytelling utility is at its most base level without accidentally scraping against something more?

I personally don’t think so. I think that understanding the nature of a home, if just in its physical characteristics and individual elements, might be as important to understanding my stories as it is to understand the individual traits of a woman and how they can come together to make a successful mom character.

And just like how in some stories, the elements of the mom I focus on differ depending on the needs and themes of the story, the same is true with the rooms of houses. Not all my stories mention the son’s bedroom, as an example. Some of the rooms I’ve used in stories, garages as an example, have only appeared once or twice. What was it about these rooms that warranted their use in unique cases? Why is it that a bathroom is structurally and thematically necessary in some stories, but then completely destructive or distracting in the case of others?

This subject has far more depth to juice than I think would initially meet the eye. So let’s juice it:

First off, we’ll start with the concept of a house broadly. Our houses, or apartments, are more than just the place where we live. They represent comfort and security. They’re a museum of our memories and emotions, and they tend to paint the impressions that make up our thoughts. As an example, my home was the first place I recall seeing the miracle of dust flying through rays of sunlight. This mix of familiarity, foreignness, security, comfort, privacy, community, leisure, labor, the mundane, and the transcendent, make the house of invaluable tool in fiction writing if used correctly. In the case of mom/bully stories, all of the traits I’ve just mentioned are those that can tweak a story in a million different ways, with extreme nuance and specificity of texture, plot, and theme.

This is why the house in itself is so vital to understand and utilize to great effect. The familiarity of a house becomes a point of natural interest when it’s contrasted with the strange or surreal. The mantelpiece that you’re used to looking at for your entire life takes on a strange new essence when the glass over top the family photo that sits there reflects the image of your mom being fucked by a tattooed black man on the living room couch. When the security of a house is removed, it makes one feel as if they no longer have any refuge, making anything that happens in a house significantly more violating than anything that happens outside of one. When a house becomes uncomfortable, say due to the air of a tense moment, the fact that the awkward or upsetting moments will linger in the same air that the characters sleep in holds more weight. And when the privacy of a home is violated, the nudity within is of the most careless variety.

All of these things are broadly true. But what makes up a house? Well, rooms.

Not only do different rooms serve different utilities in life, but they also have a similar worth in storytelling. This is true of all stories. If you take any speech from any movie or TV show that happens at a dining room table, just imagine the same speech happening within a bedroom, or, for even more of a contrast, imagine it happening between two characters standing in a bathroom. Just like each room has its utility, each room, in turn, then has it’s thematic, narrative, and textural weight or purpose. So what are the general trends in storytelling and theme that arise because of the use of each room in my stories?

Doorway: The doorway functions as entrance into the house, and in a story, as a visual to show someone or something being welcomed into the scenario at hand. While there’s less focus in regards to the front door in my stories than any other part of the house, they pack a disproportionate amount of power. As an example, think about how important the moment is when the son opens his door to see his dad’s hated co-worker standing there, looking at him with a smile. Or imagine the image of a man coming in through that front doorway after just kicking it open. Even just the fact that doors are where the characters often hang up their coats or place their keys after entering, little details which often are used as plot devices, or at the very least to make a story feel real with detail, make the power and utility of the front doorway more important than one would expect.

Living Room: The importance of living rooms to my stories, and many others, is obvious. They offer comfy furniture in order for fucking to happen on and lots of space for fucking to happen inside of. But more than that, living rooms are the most communal part of the household. When a bully fucks an unconscious mom on the living room couch, as opposed to in a bedroom, it makes it feel as if he’s the new man of the house. It establishes his power, as he’s fucking the mom in an area without expecting any added privacy or safety from being stopped or punished for it. Almost exclusively, the mom being fucked in the living room means that it’s happening with the son’s knowledge, consent, and cooperation. The relative neutrality that comes with the living room, possibly because of how mundane it is, removes emotional clutter from the fucking itself. When a mom is fucked here, all the implications that go into her lot become front and center, without any added or obscuring details. A great example of a living room fuck, and its mechanics, is in Coming to America. But even beyond the catharsis at the end, living rooms can be used to establish elements of the mom’s character by showing her in her most passive state, like can be seen in Dance With the Devil when the mom watches horror films on the couch, or by giving her a moment where something is expressed to the family, like the mom explaining her excitement the day before the plot takes place in Cheeks.

Kitchen: Kitchens represent the cooking of not just food, but of the mechanics of a story themselves. Almost everything that happens in the kitchen in my stories has some importance to the plot. The only exception being when the kitchen is used to distract the mom from something that’s happening somewhere else in the house. In drugging stories, the kitchen is usually the part of the house where drinks are spiked, giving an irony to those plots as the same room that the mom uses to cook up food to nourish her son, ends up being the same room that the son uses to mix drinks to nourish his mother in a different way. Kitchen scenes are often efficient and breezy, getting to the point immediately. Which fits, as that’s the most utilitarian part of the house. Kitchens also just represent the mom’s selflessness. In stories where the mom doesn’t need to be seen as particularly warm or protective of her son, like in Bright Red or Dance With the Devil, the kitchen doesn’t even make an appearance. But in stories like Coming to America or Smile, the kitchen becomes absolutely essential.

Dining Room: Because eating is almost never important in storytelling whatsoever, the primary purpose of dining rooms is discussion between characters. The strength in the dining room is that it offers a venue for characters to discuss things, without providing a larger context as to why, which often can detract from the conversation itself. On top of this, characters in the dining room are all there for the same reason, leading to no power differentials between them except for those established by how they talk to one another. Dining rooms are also important for establishing a full house, or for bringing all the characters within a house together. Dining rooms also work functionally well for stories where multiple characters have to be drugged all at once, like in Code Pink. The strength of dining rooms for dialogue in stories can be seen in Cut From the Same Cloth, a story that is nothing but dialogue.

Hallway: The hallway, believe it or not, is the most emotionally charged part of the house. Hallways represent distance between characters or events, as well as the passage from one state of mind to another. The sons in my stories often hear sounds that float down the hallway like whistling or the sounds of sex, or they look down the length of hallways towards events happening in the living room, either unable or unwilling to stop them, like the son in 5-Hour Nick. The hallway itself visually represents darkness with illumining light at the end of it. Characters travel through that darkness with hopes/apprehensions of seeing something on the other side. Hallways also represents deliberate action, as they function as nothing else other than a throughway between rooms. A character has no reason to be in a hallway unless they’re going somewhere. The only exception to the general use of hallways in my stories that I can think of is the relatively recent one used in the story Bright Red, where the hallway, with the mom moving through it as the son stood there and his dad finished up in the room, was used to symbolize the distance between what the mom’s fate would be that night and what it was the dad intended to happen. Also, for thematic reasons, the hallway there was as brightly lit as the rest of the house. Except for the son’s room, which was dark. And that takes me to my next room for discussion.

Son’s bedroom: The son’s bedroom is among the most useless rooms in terms of plot, with the exception of when the son uses it as a place to privately serf the web, but it’s the most useful room in terms of giving a stage to the son’s thoughts. Within his room, there is absolute privacy and a lack of a need for any action whatsoever. Because of this, rooms are used as a home within a home for the son character. Often times, like in the story More, the son uses his room to listen to what’s happening in the rest of the house without having any input of his own. Rooms are also a great place for a son to jerkoff before the climax of the story. When the son finally can jerk off in a location outside of his room, like in the living room, it’s symbolism for the ideas within his head finally coming to fruition out in the real world, as well as a reclaiming of the rest of his house, and therefor the fate of his family and mom, for himself. Bedrooms are also used for a location to store plot devices that belong to the son like pills, hidden cameras, or journals.

Bathroom: The bathrooms in my stories represent exactly what the bathroom in the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho did. Namely, privacy and vulnerability. Introspective moments from the son become much more urgent and desperate in the bathroom, due to the room’s claustrophobic and cheeky nature. The room is often also used as a containment unit for the mom, similar to the kitchen, but more effective, as it takes the mom out of the picture entirely, as things outside of her knowledge happen throughout the house. It also gives characters room to imagine her nudity, as a mom singing in the shower necessarily means that she’s as naked as they’d like to see her, even if in a room where they unfortunately can’t. In many of my stories, bathrooms are used for voyeur plots. But often, like in the examples of Oil and Water, Steam, and The Father The Son and The Holy Spirit, aspects of the mom’s character or situation are exposed in the bathroom just as much as her body is.

Mom’s (Dad’s) Bedroom: The mom’s bedroom is the polar opposite of the son’s, namely because it represents the object of the story rather than the subject. Believe it or not, the mom character is least introspective as a character when she’s in her own room. That’s because, unlike the bathroom, which is shared communally and represents vulnerability, the mom’s bedroom belongs to her alone and represents her privacy in-of-itself. Voyeur stories that spy on the mom in her room, like the now-unfortunately-lost On the Other Side of the Wall, are about the son’s quest to expose his mom’s body, and not about the mom herself or her internal state. This rule is so hard and fast, that even voyeur stories that involve washrooms, if they objectify the mom rather than focus on her subjective state or character, usually always happen in the washroom within the mom’s room. When the mom’s bedroom is used for more than just representing a violation of her privacy, it’s usually due to the dad’s influence on the story. In Bright Red, as an example, the parents’ bedroom represents both the nature of their relationship, as well as the dad’s internal mind. And in Thank You, the dad’s friend fucking the mom in their bedroom represents the extent of his defilement of the sacred essence of their relationship. And in the second Christmas Special, it represents the mom’s welcoming sexual attraction to the bully.

Backyard/Pool: The backyard, which I almost exclusively use in stories that involve parties, is not only functionally important because it offers an excuse for a scenario with a large number of people but where the whole inside of the house is free for fucking, but it’s also thematically rich because when that fucking is happening within, a large number of people are outside, joyfully oblivious to it, making the stories fundamentally about ignorance and naivete. These stories contain what I call the “So Close But So Far Away Principle.” This principle states that the closer the mom is to being saved from her predicament, the hotter it is when the predicament happens anyway. Backyards also, with their bright sun and green grass, allow for a certain kind of party which establishes the mom and/or parent’s rich social network, full of people who care for them, making the fucking at the end even more tragic.

Basement: Basements are surprisingly underutilized in my stories. But when they do show up, they offer the same space and comfort that a living room would, but also allow for the rest of the house to have people in it. The only example of a basement being used in one of my stories that I can recall is in Three Weddings and an After-Party. As fucking happens, sounds from upstairs can be heard. And characters upstairs can either know or be ignorant to what’s happening below them. Basements in other fiction usually represents what’s hidden or recreational. In mom/bully stories, I don’t see why it can’t be the same.

Upstairs: Most of the houses in my stories only have a single floor. But in some stories, like Sundial, Gh-gh-ghost!, Ink, and The Father The Son and The Holy Spirit, a second floor is utilized, often, I think, as a way to establish that some fundamental truth exists above the characters’ heads. In Sundial, it’s the dad’s knowledge that his brother is lusting after, spying on, and eventually fucking the mom character. In Gh-gh-ghost!, it’s the nature of the ghost that haunts the house after dark. In TFTSHS, it’s the individual secrets of each family member and how they add up to a higher truth when combined. And in Ink, it represents the brother’s ignorance about just how close he is towards his mom being violated.

Brother’s Bedroom: The brother’s bedroom is often useless as a story location. But when it is used, it can be used to establish the brother as someone with his own introspective anxieties, as seen in Cruel World (Hang On) and The Duelling Fates. Also, when the son character enters the brother’s room, whether his brother is there at the time or not, that can symbolize a violation for his space and privacy, which mirrors the violation in his expectations or dignity.

Garage: This one is a new room in my arsenal, its debut being made in my recent story Oil and Water. In that story, the garage served as a private space for a gangbang, which mirrors its use as a group smoking space before that. The garage’s dirtiness, its uncomfortable pavement, the cool night-air coming through the bottom of the half-open garage door, and the ugly utilitarian décor represents the impure nature of what’s happening, in contrast to the comfort of the bidet earlier in the story. At the story’s conclusion, when the mom and Olaf wake up in each other’s arms, the strangeness of waking up in the garage is used to foreshadow the quirkiness of their relationship, and the crack of sunlight that comes through the bottom of the garage door predicts the bright future the two have together. Edit: The Shape also involves a garage when it’s used as a way to take the mom out of the house and put her into the back of a van. A similar plot beat could have been reached by having the van pull up to the backyard through the side of the house, but a garage, in its dark and grungy nature, works perfectly when trying to contribute to the atmosphere in a story about Halloween.

So that’s it for houses. I’m not sure how interesting people will find this post, but I thought it was worth sharing as I’ve always had thoughts about it swimming around the back of my mind. In particular, I could probably write paragraph after paragraph about the importance of hallways in my various stories and the specificity with how each hallway scene is used, but I don’t want to bore you with that. At the very least, I hope this post was entertaining to read, and if this in any way inspired, entertained, or intrigued any writers or aspiring writers, even if it just gave them a new way to examine their own work, then that’s the icing on the cake. I’m working on another story as well, so stay tuned for that guys.

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