Looking for a house satisfies some peeping-Thomasina urge in me -- the same sort of feeling I get when driving by mansions at night. They have their lights on and I can catch a glimpse of how "they" live, or what "they" have. Looking for a house satisfies that same elemental curiosity, except of course, I am not looking at mansions. I get to walk through someone else's dwelling and imagine myself there. As a side benefit I get a glimpse of what different people call home, and am encouraged to do so.
It is amazing to me how un-clever some sellers are, leaving their homes in dreadful viewing shape -- rooms half-painted, bathrooms uncleaned, carpets with stains and/or drenched with the scents "Litterbox of Cat" or "Eau de Cigarette Smoker". These are the people with magenta and turquoise bathrooms. Their houses radiate a certain un-belovedness. The neighborhood may be chic, but the windows are dirty.
Many homeowners really turn themselves inside out when selling a home, and things feel elaborately staged for view. There is nothing out of place, the faint scent of apple spice candles is in the air, and things are arranged to look homey and inviting and immaculate. I am clearly meant to get the feeling that I have been invited for dinner and never have to leave. These homeowners have watched more than their share of HTV, the House Doctor and Trading Spaces. Their houses look as pristine and vacant-eyed as a beauty contestant. I expect to see a plaque saying "World Peace is my Platform".
Last weekend I visited one of the latter sorts of homes. Even the Audi convertible in the two-car garage had a dust cover on it. If the garage had ever had a drop of oil on its floor, it had been erased ages ago. Every room was flawless - and I found myself noticing the owner's taste more than the layout of the home.
I was about to round the corner into the sunlight-drenched dining room when I saw something that made me literally step back in horror!
Meandering around the corner was the meanest looking small creature I have ever seen. The realtor came running when she heard me yelp out in shock. "Holy Mercy, what is THAT?" she said.
It was a cat. A very small, probably very old cat.
It had been trimmed down to very short hair -- except for a poodle-like tuft of electric fuzz at the end of its scrawny, crooked tail. Likewise, its head had not been shaved. At the end of a shaved body, perched on shoulders above scrawny bow-legged legs, was a leonine head covered with a veritable explosion of wild gray fur. It scowled at me. It scowled at the realtor. It scowled at the houseplants. It scowled, it seemed, at the very air.
If looks could kill, we would have dropped in our tracks. The realtor went to pet it. It would have none of that, and turned on its cat heels casting a nasty look back over its shoulder.
My friend, Sandy, who had come with me on this adventure called out to us "Get in here!" from the bedroom. "You think THAT cat was odd?"
Plumped on the bed was a second cat, the living image of a Hallmark cat I know I have seen. The cat was HUGE, and built like a pyramid, with a giant body, skinny and short legs, and a tiny head perched on top. It had an old fashioned regal yet schoolmarmish look about it, with a sour face and pursed lips. It would have been a good match for "granny glasses". It didn't want attention so much as it took it for granted.
I looked around this perfect house, with its perfect lawn and perfect garden, its perfect furniture. I saw the wedding pictures of the young yuppie couple who live there, people who seemed barely in their late twenties. Then I looked at the cats.
The cats were living out all the dysfunction of this perfect couple.
I looked at my friend -- "Did you ever read "The Portrait of Dorian Gray"
? I asked.
Her eyes widened immediately as she said "Let's get the hell out of here."
And so, we did.
Labels: cats, dorian gray, house hunting, HTV, real estate