Piece of Mind: The cost of being a La Cañadan

Last Friday we posted on the Valley Sun website a little gift we picked up from our mothership, the Los Angeles Times. It was an item about actor Vince Vaughn having purchased a home here for $3.925 million. You might have read it and thought to yourself that Vaughn must clearly possess keen intelligence, good taste and a well-grounded set of values. That was my first takeaway from reading the article, inasmuch as those traits are practically prerequisites for attaining the coveted designation of “La Cañadan.”

It helps if one's also high-achieving and extraordinarily good-looking, like another famed actor in our midst, Angela Bassett. Or any member of our beloved high school's pep squad, for that matter. But we'll cheerfully accept anyone who pledges to keep their yards tidy and will cart their trash cans in from the curb within 60 seconds after they're emptied. Oh, and there's also the hope that they're willing to pull out a checkbook when the school district comes calling. A $2,500 annual donation is the least one can do; if the goal is to make friends here, adding a few more zeros can insure the kind of status normally afforded royalty.

A good sense of humor is advised for newcomers too. They'll need it when presented with the few minor bumps familiar to our citizens, such as waiting out one of the traffic signals near the Town Center, right?

Really, life here is pretty sweet. We are relatively isolated from the rest of civilization and we like it that way. But we get ever-so-slightly miffed when someone takes potshots at us or our surroundings.

Which brings me to another website posting earlier this week about the Vaughn purchase that called the beautiful home he and his wife selected “mundane” — right there in the headline, where everyone could see it. I believe my cheeks blushed with a flash of anger when I read that word.

I don't know about other people's hobbies, but one of mine is stalking real estate listings. It might have something to do with the fact our little nest needs more than a few new twigs and it's comforting to see that well-ordered, über-attractive properties do exist. Right here in town, too. As it happens, the very house that the Vaughns selected was at the top of my “Oh-I-really-want-that-one-when-I-win-the-lottery” list some weeks ago. It is just lovely and eminently inviting, although the closest I've ever been to setting foot inside it was when I was a young Camp Fire Girl and went door-to-door in that neighborhood during one of our annual candy sale campaigns. (By the way, I had some success at that address because just as I rang the doorbell, I happened to remember that a friend of one of my older sisters lived there. I was able to use that connection to schmooze the girl's mother, who was helpless against my smooth sales pitch. Talk about sweet!)

Anyway, when I saw the use of “mundane” the other day to describe the house, I was taken aback. I'll agree the place is not particularly hip, but neither is it humdrum. We should all have the opportunity to enjoy such a property. I can only surmise that the writer was not just surprised by the understated elegance of the star's choice, but perhaps also a little jealous.

Whatever the case, I guess we should move on from the wounds inflicted by that minor insult and simply say welcome to the Vaughn family. We're kidding when we say you have to get the trash cans back from the street that fast — you actually have several hours before the city's code enforcement officer has a chance to get wind of any lapses. But we're serious about the money for the schools. You'll find out just how true that is when the next parcel tax vote presents itself.

CAROL CORMACI is the managing editor. Email her at carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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