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Sunday, August 13, 2000

A parade of visitors graced my doorstep today. Not nearly as many as I expected, but interesting folks anyway. People who were interested in renting my house were told to be here between noon and two. Only eight showed up overall, the last one after seven o'clock.

Two families were here at high noon, when the window of opportunity opened. Fred, my landlord, brought them in together to look through the place (and, I guess, arm wrestle over it).

The more aggressive of the two were a businesslike woman followed by her rather sheepish husband. She was opening closet doors, turning on lights and asking about the noise and the water here. I downplayed the problems with both, without actually telling a blatant lie. I said it was "fairly quiet," and "quieter than when I moved in," which was when the trucks in the yard across the way were still gearing up and moving out every morning at six o'clock.

I told her that I used bottled water, but I didn't correct her when she noted that the well water hadn't stained the sinks. I could have mentioned the thorough scrubbing I gave them to achieve this illusion. (Or I could have lifted the toilet lid. You wanna see water stains, lady?)

I also could have mentioned the water's vile odor, but by then she'd moved on to the yard. I didn't walk out there with her to hear how neglected I'm sure she felt the yard must be, in her discriminating eyes.

Her husband did little besides follow along and nod at her comments. I liked him.




At the same time they were walking through, a quiet man and his quiet son of about ten years old were following along, absorbing the running commentary provided by couple number one.

I wanted to tell this man that the built-in running buddies for his kid would be a bad influence, but I couldn't say that. Just because the neighbor boys are noisy and aggressive and competitive doesn't mean there's something wrong with them. It's their job to slam doors and play loud music that annoys their elders.

Besides, they're brothers. They're supposed to yell at each other and call each other foul names and get in each other's faces all the time, except when they're acting like best friends.




These folks all left at about the same time to fill out applications. The man and boy drove away first, and I thought the couple would have the best shot anyway, since I know the landlords would prefer to rent to someone without children, if they can do it without being obviously discriminatory. Then I saw an oversized boy of about twelve lumber out of their SUV. They couldn't have been hiding him, could they? Didn't he want to see what his new room would look like?

At any rate, they were still outside chatting it up with Fred when another couple came by. They were younger, and they seemed to enjoy picturing my stuff out of here and theirs in. "Will your California king-sized bed fit in this room?" "Look, honey, this will be your sewing room." "Ah, here's a kid's room." "Oh, a fireplace. That's great."

They were in and out and gone in a flash. I don't even know if they filled out an application, but couple number one were still here when they drove off.




Much later, just before the deadline, I was standing outside talking to Fred about the sadly inadequate response to the ad. He assured me that he hadn't been bonding with couple number one. He just couldn't get them to leave.

Then a young couple in a souped-up pickup drove up. The perky young woman who bounced out of the passenger seat introduced herself. She carried a yellow legal pad filled with notes on the places she had been looking at today.

She was a whirlwind, walking through my house, squeaking and cooing gleefully over the possibilities she saw. She asked if she could do some things to the yard (Oh yes, please!). She didn't ask about the noise or the water, or anything else.

When she mentioned that she had a six-year-old son, I saw Fred's shoulders slump just for a second. She motioned to her friend who was driving the pickup to come in and look around, but I couldn't tell if he was a boyfriend or not.

She was definitely all personality and would be a lively addition to the neighborhood. I don't know how much of a chance she has, though.




About 45 minutes after the supposed two o'clock deadline, three women, who had apparently been lost trying to find the place, drove in to take a look. One of them would be the tenant, but she had her friends along for advice and comment.

By this time, I was getting pretty blasť about it all. I let them walk all over the house while Fred and I stood in the living room and talked. The only question she asked was if she would be allowed to barbecue.

A few minutes later, a single man around forty walked through, glancing at the rooms and asking no questions. He took an application, but of course I didn't get to see it, so I don't know if he's alone or has a family. At least I didn't feel he was passing judgment on my housekeeping. Rightly or wrongly, I definitely got that impression from the three women who preceded him.

Incredibly, there were two more visitors, one young man who got here about five and another just after seven. Both seemed almost embarrassed to be getting here so late. I like that quality in a person (the embarrassment, not the lateness). Neither spent much time, but both took applications.




I think the landlords are still hoping for someone quiet, but the prospects aren't as rosy as they seemed when two hundred people phoned about the ad. The older couple, or the young couple with a baby, or the single person that they were hoping to take my place might never materialize. I was stunned that so few people showed up to tour the grounds today.

They're going to run the ad for the rest of the week, so I guess I'll have to try to keep the place clean enough for further inspections.




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