I’d like to share some cool news with you guys. Me and the girlfriend are homeowners. Just to document it, I’d like to reflect on how we got here for a moment. The girlfriend was addicted to the househunting shows, using HGTV like an IV drip. She went as far to name Sandra Rinomato, host of Property Virgins, her “real estate girlfriend,” and it was an intense, obsessive affair, to the point where she wanted Sandra—and only Sandra—to be our real estate agent.
“That’s not going to happen,” I pointed out. But after being subjected to a few episodes of Property Virgins, I began to want her, too. Hey, the woman makes it look easy, and with a chipper Canadian accent. And how!
Instead, we had an older man, whom we unmercifully dragged all over town looking at over fifty properties, and whom despite his bum knee, smiled the entire time. However, we quickly discovered that househunting was not nearly as fun as depicted by the bright-eyed people on TV wandering through empty rooms and envisioning their futures.
And now I will present a brief listing of the things we encountered instead:
Scary potential neighbors.
Man sitting on stoop, staring at us, petting cat in creepy way. See above; scary neighbors.
Bars on windows.
Vanity plates that read RIP DRE.
The smell of gas.
Original shag carpet.
Old people about to die and “just about to go for their morning walk,” hobbling out the door. See above; shag carpet.
I’m nearly convinced the housing collapse has nothing to do with poor economic conditions. It’s all on the sellers who have no idea that a gigantic climbing structure filled with cats and taking up over half the living room might possibly turn off potential buyers. The cats had, quite clearly at this point, taken over.
Along the way to homeownership, we learned new things about our credit reports and bank accounts. “They’re just coming after me because my last name is Italian and they’re trying to trace me back to the Mafia,” was the girlfriend’s explanation for the lender’s prodding. Meanwhile, I shrugged and gave them whatever they wanted, grateful no one was questioning me about the overdue video fines from Blockbuster on my credit report from the 1990s. I always thought it would come down to the day I’d buy a house, and I guess I got away with not ever returning 12 Monkeys. Now I just hope the DMV never comes after me for those license plates I never returned.
We also encountered some hard decisions in the process, such as walking away from one contract after the inspection discovered a mold problem in the basement. For the next contract, I took any mold concerns into my own hands. I hired Vinny.
“Who the hell is Vinny?” the girlfriend asked.
“The guy I hired to inspect behind the walls to make sure we won’t have another mold problem.”
“You just found some guy named Vinny? Is this person qualified?”
“I talked to him on the phone. He’s very professional.”
I trust the name Vinny. There are certain company logos or names where you just look at it, and you know it seems dependable and trustworthy. And he was. The consummate professional.
But overall, homebuying was stressful. The girlfriend lost her for effervescence for it. She got dark. She stopped watching the shows. When Sandra came on, she looked away. I focused my energy into watching hours of television, becoming obsessed with ESPN and all the story lines in football this year. Televised brain damage. Waiting for Brett Favre to die on the field. And of course, as a fan, living and dying with every play the Ravens made. The mass perversion of football just made sense, and I began to find comfort in football metaphors. The Cowboys canned Wade Phillips and started winning. Maybe I had to fire the head coaching staff. The broker. The real estate agent. Vinny.
But as they say in football, nothing cures a locker room like winning. And we knew we’d stepped into our house the first time we saw it. We bought a blue house with cream-colored shutters in a quaint neighborhood where the children stand tall in the face of oncoming traffic. Seriously kid, get out of the middle of the road. Our neighborhood has winding sidewalks and shady trees and a Bichon Frise who showed his teeth and snapped at me when I tried to pet it.
“Max, that’s unlike you! You’ve never done that before!” the owner said. But that I don’t believe it for a minute, the little poodle-lookin’ bastard.
And so those are my observations so far, and we are moving stuff now. Ah, moving hell. How in God’s name does one person own so many hangers? Bags and bags full of just hangers. Did I know this about the girlfriend before we moved in together? Where did they come from? Meanwhile, the girlfriend is getting reacquainted with Sandra. And Brett Favre is somehow still alive.
And dogs with poofy haircuts are assholes.