Somebody decided to build a house up the road from where I live, in the Village of… Let’s just say it’s a village. And you know how villages are. Staid, but quaint. Possessors of a very definite aesthetic. Lots of gazebos and Golden Retrievers. McMansions and retrofitted farmhouses with BMW’s in the driveway.
This house does not fit the village aesthetic, or any other aesthetic that I can figure out. It’s one story, with black cone-shaped lighting fixtures on the facade that shine both up AND down. Every time I pass it at night I think Grauman’s Chinese Theater is having a movie premiere. These lights can be seen from space.
The exterior is clad in some kind of futuristic, blindingly white siding, with raw wood slabs framing the doors and windows. A century-old barn hangs out to the side with the look of somebody who desperately wants to leave this party as soon as humanly possible.
Oh, and someone died when the house that previously occupied the lot burned to the ground. So there’s that.
After the house was mostly built, a giant flag appeared outside proclaiming OPEN HOUSE, which to normal people means, “This house is for sale. Enter here all ye potential home buyers.”
I had to see The House.
So the boyfriend and I head off to the open house. There’s a basket of blue surgical booties by the front door so that our filthy animal feet don’t sully the bamboo floors.
The door (which is freakishly narrow) opens directly into a Swedish minimalist nightmare with soaring ceilings and an 80-inch TV/fireplace combo in what is essentially the livingkitchenroom. I would need a ladder to put away a box of Fruit Loops.
My boyfriend, the giant, has no such problems and proceeds to open every single kitchen cabinet and drawer.
“That’s a lot of peanut butter,” he observes loudly.
Wow, I think, the Realtor who staged this really went out of their way.
A woman is perched nonchalantly on a barstool and tells us to feel free to look around.
So we do.
There are clothes in the bedroom drawers, coats in the closet, tampons in the bathroom. But the bed in the master bedroom looks like a cheap temporary prop with a thin, lumpy mattress. The bathroom door in the basement is bizarrely labeled RESTROOM in a gas station-y kind of way.
And there’s a urinal. (Maybe I’m a hick. Maybe everybody has a urinal in their bathroom except me.)
My boyfriend is about to open yet another closet door when the woman stops him. “That’s just a lot of things I shoved in there.”
When she wanders back upstairs, boyfriend and I start playing The Price is Right as we gaze out at what can only be called an exhausting amount of lawn.
“Five acres,” I say. “Inside the village limits. Water and sewer lines. Two bed, two bath — kind of small, but it’s still going to be $300,000. Too bad it’s so freaking ugly.”
Since I fancy myself quite the real estate connoisseur, we traipse happily upstairs to grill the woman about the asking price. “$300,000,” I proclaim like an auctioneer at Sotheby’s.
“Oh, it’s not for sale,” she says.
ME: “I’m sorry?”
HER: “We live here.”
ME: “You what?”
HER: “This is our home. We live here.”
So in other words, I’ve been fondling a strange woman’s tampons while my boyfriend insults her fondness for peanut butter.
At some point, a man passes through who doesn’t acknowledge us and clearly wants nothing to do with any of this.
As it turns out, the woman is an interior designer and she is simply holding the open house to showcase her services as a designer and her husband’s skills as a builder. Of their home. Where they live.
Which maybe a flyer, or a portfolio, or even just a, “Hey, I know you probably think this place is for sale, but it’s not” would’ve gone a long way towards explaining.
I left feeling guilty somehow, so I signed up for the woman’s newsletter. She was very nice, even though her house is an unholy monstrosity and a blight upon the face of the Earth.