I interviewed a woman for the newspaper this week whose voice mail message said: “You’ve reached Diane. I’m not here right now. Please leave me a message and before you hang up tell me one good thing about your life.”
In the five seconds the message played two thoughts flashed through my head. 1.) This is a business call. You’re setting up an interview. Just leave the basics. You’re too longwinded to go into what’s good
about your life anyway. And then 2.) Don’t puss out. Tell her you’re looking at houses with Joe tonight. She asked you.
So I left a message for Diane Lane – not the actress, the Sarasota massage therapist who goes by Lane instead of her long spitty German name – and at the end of my reporter’s message I said, “And the one good thing about my life right now is that tonight I’m looking at houses with my boyfriend.”
After I said it I immediately felt like a 9 year old. But whatev. Isn’t the first time I sounded like a child. Won’t be the last.
Here’s a rundown of the four grownup houses we looked at Thursday:
House No. 1
The Bachelor Pad of Girlfriend Past
A guy in his early 30s still lived there. He was in the shower when our Realtor knocked on the door. His dogs – a white Maltese-y dog and big white beaky dog – were going ape shit in the living room.
I suspected our Realtor was not a dog man since he grimaced when our pug grunted in his direction at the apartment before we left.
“You don’t know with dogs,” he said, unlocking the door and then closing it right away as the big white beaky dog tried to nose his way out.
I said, c’mon no biggie. Open the door. Aint no two fluffy white dogs gonna scer me.
Joe gave me The Look. The ‘Stop it Bamm-Bamm Rubble’ look. So I clutched my hands behind my back and rocked on the heels of my ballet slippers.
“Do you want me to open this door and risk Joe losing his nuts?” The Realtor asked.
I thought about making a joke about cheaper birth control and then didn’t. No, I said. You’re right. We should wait for the man in the shower to cage his two foofy dogs.
Inside, the house was decorated like Paige Davis’ Trading Spaces crew had gone to town on it. Orange and green walls. Blue walls. Big wooden blocks spelling out the word D R E A M nailed to a dayglo wall in the living room. The 30-something dude in the shower had by then emerged toweling off his hair and I couldn’t help but concoct scenarios as I studied the guy’s weight lifting bench in the living room. Perhaps his girlfriend had painted the place like Trading Spaces, nailed D R E A M letters to the wall and then several months later dumped him for a guy with bigger muscles. Now he was selling the house because he was heartbroken, or fed up with women and his Trading Spaces house with the D R E A M letters on the wall. One look at the guy’s sad sacky face and I wanted to whisper bad karma in Joe’s ear. So we passed.
House No. 2
The House That Mortgage Fraud Destoryed
A foreclosure behind Publix. A woman who speaks only Spanish cosigned on the house for her friend who skipped town, ran off with the appliances and left her with a sub-prime mortgage she couldn’t afford. The house wasn’t bad save for a dead cockroach and a master bedroom smaller than the one we have now. But, c’mon no closet! Most females have a symbiotic relationship with their closets. Without closets our species is endangered. Pass.
House No. 3
The Bookish Bungalow With a Bum View
Ah yes. Our favorite. The one pictured above. A 1920s bungalow in Old Northeast with a porch large enough to tap dance on. Since I get too dreamy-eyed and gung-ho about these things I will ask a passing Joe for his opinion. (Sorry he’s no longer asleep. PK just made pancakes and sausage for breakfast – important stuff to wake up to.)
Says Joe: “I thought it was very … it looked like it needed the least amount of work.” (Typical practical, calculated Joe.) “I liked the hardwood floors. I liked that it was open. I liked that it was airy. I liked the living room and dining room. I thought the kitchen kind of sucked. I didn’t like that it was near that road …”
By that road he means 4th Street. As we stood on the porch and praised and critiqued the house, paperbag-toting bums filed in and out of the gas station across the street. Tis House No. 3’s biggest downfall. However not a deal-breaker. Since I’m pregnant with a novel and looking for a place I can write in I determined this house with it’s sweet bungalow charm, ginormous front porch and awesome view of 4th Street shenanigans, has some serious storytelling potential. A keeper, for now.
House No. 4
John Belushi Lived Here
We were the most excited about this doosie based on the photos our Realtor e-mailed us. However when we got there after ten minutes of getting lost, turning around and getting lost again, we determined the place was too Addams Family meets Animal House. The porch swing was great. The upstairs/downstairs thing was cool. The rotting windows? Not so much. There was no yard to speak of. Only a “side yard” about the size of a bathroom, fenced in by deteriorating wooden planks that the current homeowner used to store his random crap in. The house would have been cooler if Joe and I were Phi Sigma Kappas. So we passed.
The goal: 10 houses by the time we leave next month for our romp through the Florida panhandle.