Sunday, May 06, 2007

Totally selling out

When my wife Kara and I first decided to put our house on the market, a co-worker warned me how little fun this process was going to be for us. Having the misfortune to have listed about two weeks after the real estate boom ended, his house sat on the market for longer than it takes some people to earn college degrees. Back in the days when buyers roamed the suburbs in thunderous herds, you could order an ice cream cone and sell your house before it melted. These days, in the time it takes to unload a home, a Twinkie could very well rot.

A distinction must be drawn between selling a house, which sounds like it surely must be heaps of fun, and attempting to sell a house, which ranks somewhere on the fun scale between fender benders and farming accidents. Before we listed our house, we didn’t even own a mop. Now we go through mop heads like they’re U.S. attorneys. Our vacuum hasn’t seen this much action since the Great Ferret Litter Spill of ’04.

We’ve spent most of our recent weekends making the house look pretty for people we’ll most likely never hear from again. Like spurned lovers, we sit by the phone, waiting for the call that doesn’t come, wondering what we should have done differently. Actually, most modern-day spurned lovers probably sit by the computer, waiting for the wink that doesn’t come, but the effect is largely the same; anguish is technology independent.

“Dude, I left my underwear on the magazine rack in the bathroom,” I confessed after our last appointment. “I didn’t realize it until after the people had already come through.”

Despite one’s best intentions, even with hours of preparation and careful double-checking of every room, it can be very tough to bring rogue underpants under control.

“I’d love to know if anyone has ever decided not to buy a house because of underwear in the bathroom,” Kara said.

But who knows? It’s impossible to know what combination of factors comes together to drive buyers to make the most important decisions of their lives. Home buyers are like horses – you never know what’s going to spook them. Underwear in the bathroom is a flash bulb going off. Most horses will act like they don’t even notice, but some might freak out and gallop for the exit.

As frustrating as the process can be, with all of its ups, downs and inherent stress, it’s still not that bad of a gig. It just takes a while to find the right person, somebody who agrees to move in, spruce up your house, fix all the things that break and pay you for the privilege. All you have to do is leave and never come back. That’s a tough deal to beat.

For the past few days, we’ve been working on the house while Kara has been dealing with a terrible cold. Being the good husband that I am, I bring her chicken soup in a squeeze bottle so she doesn’t have to put down the mop.

Getting a cold when you’re an adult isn’t any fun because you’re already allowed to eat candy whenever you want. When you’re a kid, getting sick means you can munch on Luden’s cherry cough drops all day long, which don’t do squat for your cough, but your teacher can’t take them from you. Incidentally, we just discovered that Sudafed is more difficult to purchase than most firearms.

“We have to keep it behind the counter now,” the pharmacist said as he looked Kara’s driver’s license over, entering her information into the computer. “People were using it for other purposes.”

I remembered the story I’d heard a little while back on NPR. “Oh, you can make crystal meth with it,” I said. It wasn’t really necessary to point that out, but I wanted the pharmacist to think I was hip.

You can make Mike Todd an offer he can’t refuse online at


  1. I'm so snarky I would have asked if the underwear were included with that price of the house. hehehehehe

  2. Maybe they just weren't accustomed to a pair of mens' neon green thongs as part of their decor. Heh.

    When you have little children romping around, you don't even get to enjoy your cold (bad TV in pajamas all day) because they will not comprehend your illness past the point of drawing you a picture. After that, it's endless hours of "do you not understand how sick I am" while trying to suck the last of the original-formula Sudafed from the bottle with a straw.

    But then, you're still a little miffed about the thong joke, no?


  3. Burf -- Ha! For you, I'd throw in some dirty socks, too.

    Janelle -- Like I'd have GREEN thongs. I'm more an electric blue man. Now can you please talk smack on my punctuation so I can score another column out of it?

  4. throw in a bra so I can have a set on the wall and you got yourself a deal buddy. hehehehe

  5. Sudafed too? Damn.

    I remember the good old days when you could buy over the counter asthma meds just for the ephedrine. Too bad a few mortal accidents at the pro sports level ruined that.

    We've had a couple crystal meth labs busted locally. Usually it's a family affair with a father looking like Paul Walker's neighbor in Running Scared (before he blew the house up).

    Kudos on the NPR. You learn something new everyday. Ha.

  6. Burf -- I'm not even totally sure what we're talking about anymore, but you're so on.

    Buster -- Mortal accidents are always ruining the fun for the rest of us, aren't they? And I hate Sudafed. Always makes my nose all runny, which is worse than the problems I had before. I guess I'll have to wait until they learn to make crystal meth with ibuprofen.

  7. "a Twinkie could very well rot."

    For some reason, this is the funniest thing I've heard all day. Of course, it's only 5:55 am.

  8. This is the funniest thing I've read in ages. And I'm still smiling. One more reason why I can't put my house on the market right now. Can't control the underwear lying around :)

    "I wanted the pharmacist to think I was hip" That was so cool :)

  9. Mike---I have no idea what I'm talking about any more either. But yayyyyyyyyy to me being on. hehehehe

  10. melodyann -- Thanks, dude! Did it last until 6:00 am?

    M -- You're the nicest person in the universe (with the exception of the person reading this right now, of course, unless it's you, in which case there's no exception). I hope you never have to sell a house.

    Burf -- You're always on, Holmes.

  11. You go through US attorneys?

    What do you do with them?

  12. Anon -- Personally, I don't go through too many U.S. attorneys, but Alberto Gonzales does. Look at my riff on current events! I'm like the Daily Show without the wit or good hair.

  13. I don't think the underware would scare me off unless the skid marks were larger than the expressway in Dallas.
    Then I'd have to think twice about either running or congratating you on the accomplishment

  14. Alekx -- Nice to see you again! Yeah, I think congratulations would certainly be in order.