Spackle Kingdom, Adieu Time To Leave Homeowner Projects Behind

Posted: May 07, 1986

What prospective buyers say, when they look at our house, is: "Huh! This is . . . INTERESTING." They always say this. They never say: "What a nice house!" Or: "We'll take this house! Here's a suitcase filled with money!!" No, they say our house is INTERESTING. What they mean is: "Who installed this paneling? Vandals?"

Sometimes, to cheer us up, they also say: "Well it certainly has a lot of possibilities!" Meaning: "These people have lived here for 10 years and they never put up any curtains."

As you may have gathered, we're trying to sell our house. We have elected to move voluntarily to Miami. We want our child to benefit from the experience of growing up in a community that is constantly being enriched by a diverse and ever-changing infusion of tropical diseases. Also they have roaches down there you could play polo on.

The first thing we did, when we decided to move, was we rented a dumpster, and threw away most of our furniture. You think I am kidding, but this is only

because you never saw our furniture. It was much too pathetic to give to The Poor. The Poor would have taken one look at it, and returned laughing to their street grates.

What we did give to The Poor was all my college textbooks, which I had gone through, in college, using a yellow felt marker to highlight the good parts. You college graduates out there know what I'm talking about. You go back, years later, when college is just a vague semi-comical memory, and read something you chose to highlight, and it's always a statement like: ''Structuralized functionalism represents both a continuance of, and a departure from, functionalistic structuralism." And you realize that at one time, you actually had large sectors of your brain devoted to this type of knowledge. Lord only knows what The Poor will use it for. Fuel, probably.

One book we did keep is called "Survive the Deadly Wind." I don't know where we got it, but it's about hurricanes, and so we thought it might contain useful information about life in Miami. "Any large pieces of aluminum left in a yard are a definite hazard," it states. "Each piece has a potential for decapitation. Hurled on the tide of a 150-mile wind, it can slice its way to, and through, bone." Ha ha! Our New Home!

After we threw away our furniture, we hired two men, both named Jonathan, to come over and fix our house up so prospective buyers wouldn't get to laughing so hard they'd fall down the basement stairs and file costly lawsuits. The two Jonathans are extremely competent, the kind of men who own winches and freely use words like "joist" and can build houses starting out with only raw trees. The first thing they did was rip out all the Homeowner Projects I had committed against our house back when I thought I had manual dexterity. They are trying to make the house look as nice as it did before I started improving it. This will cost thousands of dollars.

I think there should be a federal law requiring people who publish do-it- yourself books to include a warning, similar to what the Surgeon General has on cigarette packs, right on the cover of the book, stating:

WARNING: ANY MONEY YOU SAVE BY DOING HOMEOWNER PROJECTS YOURSELF WILL BE OFFSET BY THE COST OF HIRING COMPETENT PROFESSIONALS TO COME AND REMOVE THEM SO YOU CAN SELL YOUR HOUSE, NOT TO MENTION THE EMOTIONAL TRAUMA ASSOCIATED WITH LISTENING TO THESE PROFESSIONALS, AS THEY RIP OUT LARGE CHUNKS OF A PROJECT, LAUGH AND YELL REMARKS SUCH AS: "HEY! GET A LOAD OF THIS."

After the Jonathans took out all my projects, the house mostly consisted of holes, which they filled up with spackle. When prospective buyers ask: ''What kind of construction is this house?" I answer: "Spackle."

The only real bright spot in the move so far was when I got even with the television set in our bedroom, which had been broken for years. My wife and I have had the same argument about it maybe 200 times, wherein I say we should

throw it away, and she says we should get it repaired. My wife grew up in a very sheltered rural Ohio community, and she still believes you can get things repaired.

Over the years, this television set had come to believe that as long as my wife was around, it was safe, and it had grown very smug, which is why I wish you could have seen the look on its face when, with my wife weakened by the flu, I took it out and propped it up at the end of the dumpster, execution- style, and as a small neighborhood crowd gathered, one of the Jonathans hurled a long spear-like piece of Homeowner Project from 20 feet away right directly through its screen, into the very heart of its picture tube. It made a sound that I am sure our other appliances will not soon forget.

But the rest has been mostly low points. I am very much looking forward to the day when somebody buys our house, perhaps as a tourist attraction (SPACKLE KINGDOM, 5 MI.), and we can pack our remaining household possessions - a

piano and 48,000 "He-Man" action figures - into cardboard boxes and move to Miami to begin our new life, soaking up the sun and watching the palm trees sway in the tropical breeze. At least until the aluminum slices through them.

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