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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!

Home Staging on Several Dimes

(First, the baseball buzz over at Bugs & Cranks

Wednesday Walk Watch: Week fouW:

“The faithful gnawed at shattered nails,

As though t’were snacks made by Nabisco.

While their last great hope unfurl’d his sails

‘Gainst Rangers’ closer Frank Francisco.”

And it’s pretty much all downhill from there. Speaking of which…)

Our house, she is officially on the market. Evidently, this happened early this morning, when the realtor made the final touches to the ad and popped it in the magical online Real Estate-Mo-Tron doohickey that pushes info out to prospective buyers. This is a positive and exciting step in our home-selling process.

Also, there’s evidently some early interest in our humble abode, as a buying agent made a request to see the place fairly early this morning, a scant couple of hours after the listing hit the interwaves. This is also positive, and most exciting.

“I assume it’s similar to what the doting owner of a prized hamster might go through, if the house were on fire. And the hamster was retarded. And the owner was naked at the time.”


I discovered, indirectly, that I don’t directly receive those agent requests to view the house. Those go to my wife, her being the one with the organizational skills and the scheduling knack and the responsible bone in her body. The better for me to not royally cock up something important, my dear.

The thing is, I’m a bit of a shifted worker these days. That parking situation I railed on about a few days ago occurs on streets where there’s absolutely no stopping before 10am — just one last parry-and-thrust-and-twist with the knife the meter weenies are sticking in our backs over there. But it means that I usually head into work later than most, and stay later than most. As a not-so-very-much-a-morning person, it works out quite well for me.

Except on days when a real estate agent has made a request to see the house, and I don’t know about. And twelve minutes before the scheduled viewing, I’m sitting in my jammies checking email and enjoying a nice bowl of Frosty Chex, whiling away the morning until allowed-to-park time.

At eleven minutes before the scheduled viewing, the phone rang. This means nothing to me. Who answers the phone any more, anyway? It’s only some telemarketer or wrong number or Fraternal Order of Police staffer begging for money so those meter weenies can have snazzier ticket pads. Sorry. Not interested.

At ten minutes and forty-five seconds before the scheduled viewing, the phone rang again. Interesting. The marketing monkeys are persistent this morning. I raised an eyebrow and went back to filtering spam and shoveling cereal.

At ten minutes and thirty seconds before the scheduled viewing, the phone rang again. I began to sense that something might be afoot. And that it might involve my wife. This phone business felt an awful lot like her secret code for alerting me when she’s locked herself out of the house. On the other hand, there were a few sips of that really good sugary bit of milk left in the bottom of the bowl. And if she’d bothered to phone up three times…

Sure enough, at ten minutes and fifteen seconds before the scheduled viewing, the phone rang again. This time, I picked it up — and sure enough, it was the missus. She informed me of the viewing, told me the scheduled time, and pointed out that I now had just about ten minutes to make the house presentable. Which included, preferably, getting myself and the dog the hell out of it. She ended the call with one final passing comment:

Well… hope you’re dressed, anyway.

Yeah. That would make this ordeal a bit more manageable, now, wouldn’t it? Pity, that.

It’s interesting the thought process you go through when you have but mere minutes to prep an entire house, put yourself together such that you won’t be arrested when venturing out into public, and corral a small animal that knows only the words ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘puppy wanna nummy biscuit?’. I assume it’s similar to what the doting owner of a prized hamster might go through, if the house were on fire. And the hamster was retarded. And the owner was naked at the time. I wouldn’t recommend it, frankly.

I quickly formulated a plan, making rapid-fire judgments as best I could at that early hour. First, put on some damned pants. Contact lenses in, find a shirt, rinse with mouthwash. I could hustle the mutt out the door — luring her with a ‘nummy biscuit’, if necessary — drop her off at ‘doggy day care’, and circle back home to clean up properly after the lookyloos were gone. Getting through that tangle of logic, wardrobe and Scope took maybe three minutes.

(Not bad, though if anyone happened to see and ask about my obvious ‘bed head’ at the dog place, I’d have to play it off as either “the way everyone in Europe is wearing it these days”, or the result of an unfortunate incident involving a light socket, my tongue, and a triple dog dare.

And since no one would ever believe that I’m on the bleeding edge of anything fashion-related, I’d have to go with the latter. I’m always sticking my tongue in places it doesn’t belong, anyway. Far more plausible.)

That left just seven minutes or so to make the place look like a house someone would want to buy — ‘cozy’ and ‘inviting’, but never ‘messy’ or ‘cluttered’. From the advice I’ve read on various real estate advice sites, you want prospective buyers to immediately imagine themselves living in the space, without leaving any shred of evidence that people currently do live there. It’s a tricky business. And not something I could hope to master in just under seven minutes. Especially when I’d just scrambled out of my pajamas.

So I did the best I could — dog bowls tucked away unseen, cereal bowl and spoon in the dishwasher, all the drapes and doors opened, and any mess I could see cleaned away, thrown out, covered up or cleverly distracted from, in ways that seemed like a good idea in the heat of the moment.

(No time to clean a spot of dirt on the foyer rug? Tape a stack of dollar bills to the doorway above it. You might lose a couple dozen bucks, but nobody’s ever going to complain about that stain. Or even see it. Every once in a great while, money can buy you happiness.)

I’m proud to say I made it out of the house — uncleaned, shoes unmatched, and my lunch money littered in various strategic spots around the property — with nearly a minute to spare. I drag-carried the mutt to the car and whisked her off the premises post-haste. And I returned forty minutes later to find an empty house, a waiting shower, and a pair of loafers meant to be worn together. Also, I’m out thirty bucks. But nobody mentioned anything about that stain on the rug, or the shower curtain I pulled down, or the fire I accidentally started in the yard.

And to think I was worried about prepping the house. Silly old me. Ten minutes is plenty of time to get it ready — at least until I hit my ATM limit for the day. This house selling gig is getting expensive.

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