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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Getting a Move-On?

The missus and I are thinking of selling our house.

Actually, it’s much more serious than that. She and I are talking about selling our house. Talking in public. To other people. And that makes it official.

See, it’s when you share your plans with other people that you really lock down your commitment. With the words hanging in the air between you, you’ve just formed a bond together. You, suddenly responsible for following through with whatever thing it is you’d idly planned to do. And them, whose job it now is to ask you about the thing every stupid time they see you, until you either follow through with said thing or until they’ve shamed you into delisting your number, ignoring their calls and making up raunchy rumors to discredit them among your circle of mutual friends. Whichever turns out to be easier. Or more fun.

“Before you know it, you’ll be sitting with a fresh butt in your hand, doughnut powder on your cheeks and candy-encrusted Pocky nostrils, wondering where it all went wrong again.”

It’s a well-established fact that until you publicly declare your intention to tackle something, you’re under zero obligation to make any effort whatsoever. You can tell yourself all day and night that you’re finally ready to stop smoking, or to drop twenty pounds, or to give up snorting strawberry Pocky sticks for Lent. But if that’s as far as you go, you’re as good as sunk already. Before you know it, you’ll be sitting with a fresh butt in your hand, doughnut powder on your cheeks and candy-encrusted Pocky nostrils, wondering where it all went wrong again.

The key is to let your friends in on the plan. The more heinous the task, the more people you have to tell. You want to be sure that you’ll run into them regularly, as they’ll be reminding you of your half-baked scheme — and your glaring inadequacy in failing to complete it — every time you meet. To them, it’s just a friendly and interested question: ‘Hey, how’s that diet coming?‘ or ‘When was your last cigarette?

But when you know they’re going to ask — and if you know the answers are ‘Better before I crammed half a turkey into my piehole last night‘ and ‘Half an hour ago, if you don’t count the smoldering menthol I’m hiding behind my back right now‘, respectively — then you finally have some real pressure to set things right. Nobody wants to look like an asshole. Particularly not an asshole with four chins and emphysema.

Or an asshole living in the same damned house six months after you claimed you were going to sell it. So the clock is ticking, thanks to our loose lips on the subject of real estate plans.

The thing is, we’ve never sold a house before. We bought a house, once. And look where that got us. We’d barely moved into the place before our crap started expanding to every corner and cranny available. Five years later, and the house is stuffed to the rafters with all manner of useless junk. I look in the attic and I don’t even recognize most of the boxes and crates up there. I’m convinced our least-favored possessions got together and found some way to procreate, just so they could reproduce little bits of themselves that we have to cart down the stairs to throw away.

(Now there’s an unpleasant thought. My box of old Huey Lewis LPs getting busy with my wife’s busted luggage set. Gives a whole new, queasy meaning to ‘junk in the trunk’. And just think of the offspring — a worn-out old rocker who skips every third beat, and whose zipper doesn’t work any more.

In other words, Gary Glitter.

Crap. What kind of exterminator do you call if you’ve got him infesting your attic? I can’t imagine that falls under the ‘Orkin guarantee’.)

The point is, before we can get around to the actual selling of the house, there’s a shitload of work to be done. Cleaning out, throwing away, lugging down, burning and denying and never speaking of again. That’s to say nothing of making the rest of the house look neat and presentable — which would probably entail having someone else come and live here for a few months first. We’ve seen what we can do with the place, and it’s not pretty. If we could only hire a live-in professional fixer-upper — a former maid for the Blue Man Group, maybe, or one of those feng shui samurais — then we’d have a fighting chance.

Until then, it’s up to us to get the place some reasonable facsimile of ‘ready’ all on our own. And quickly, because people are starting to talk. Just yesterday, we got a ‘Hey, you guys are selling your house, right?‘ Yes, damn you, yes! We’re getting to it; get off our backs already! Enough with the Spanish Inquisition — these things take time, fer crissakes!

Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to announce our house-selling intentions in the middle of a New England winter. It’ll be torture enough scrounging through the piles of useless attic crap to neaten up the place. But I’ll be damned if I’m doing it in the middle of a cold snap. That attic’s got no heaters. I could freeze my ass off, have it fall into a box of old clothes or dogeared paperbacks, and never see it again.

(And what would the people sorting through donations at Goodwill say to that, I ask you?

Hey, Jimmy, we got a rack for these things?

What is it?

Looks like… an ass. How much we sell asses for, anyway?

That depends. How’s it look?

Pasty, old, white and doughy.

Eh, throw it in the bargain bin and tag it for a buck. Maybe we can sell it as a toilet lid.‘)

Anyway, the point of all this is really just to seal our fate. By telling you that we’re thinking of taking the house-selling plunge, I’ve just created another opportunity for someone to bug the hell out of me about it until it’s done. And after the panicking and the tantrums and the threats to abandon the house entirely and live in the driveway instead, the first step is to clean the place up. Including the attic. The entire attic. Yikes.

How about I just avoid you for a while instead, and then tell everyone we know that you’re starting to show signs of Alzheimer’s. Also, you cheat on your taxes. And you’ve had several cosmetic surgeries that you don’t want anyone to know about. That way, when you bring up our house plans, no one will be paying any attention; they’ll be thinking about the seventeen dependents you claimed last year and staring at your neck, wondering which bits were tucked. Sure, it’s a hurtful and elaborate plan — but hey, it doesn’t involve cleaning out that damned attic. And I know the lesser of two evils when I see it. Better luck next time.

Permalink  |  3 Comments

3 Responses to “Getting a Move-On?”

  1. kerry says:

    this is why hubby and i have quite often wished for a monica in our lives.

  2. #Debi says:

    Well. I certainly didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.

    Then again, I guess nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, eh?

  3. Charlie says:

    Kerry: I’m afraid if I ‘wished for a Monica’ around the missus, I’d be in awfully hot water.

    I ‘wished for a Rachel’ once during Friends, and spent a week sleeping on the couch.

    Debi: That’s right! Our chief weapon is surprise!

    And ruthlessness. And an almost fanatical devotion to writing drivel.

    Now run along before I have to put you in the comfy chair!

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