Tuesday, January 27, 2009

That house is going to eat them alive

Ed and I spent many hours battling our old house. Basically, from the time we moved in until the time we moved out, we considered ourselves to be at war with the thing. We battled rats that were bold enough to sun themselves on the deck on occasion, weeds that could not be contained – despite near heroic efforts to do so, and small maintenance issues that are probably typical of all homes. Even on our way out, we discovered the furnace needed to be replaced and we almost stopped using the hot water for fear that the hot water heater would need to be replaced as well. You see, our home inspector told us when we moved into the joint that we’d need to replace the A/C, furnace, and hot water heater soon. And that was eight years ago. I guess outrunning two out of three appliances isn’t bad.

Anyway, much like us when we entered the home in 2001, the new owners gaze at the thing and think a coat of paint here, a refinished floor there, maybe a new oven and the place will be awesome. They honestly believe (much like we did) that they can peacefully coexist with the place. But they have no idea how evil that place can be.

At first, I was impressed with them. I thought they would be the owners to finally tame the beast. After all, at closing they told Ed and me they were getting rid of the Caloric Ultramatic oven in favor of something that doesn’t get seering hot on the outside when in use (and stay that way for quite some time afterwards so that anyone who walks by instantly thinks it’s on and attempts to turn it off, only to realize that it is off). They even said that we could have it if we wanted it (and as much as we hated that oven, we really did love it). Ed and I stared in amazement because we were all like – dude – you’re ripping the very heart and soul out of that house. This act of near violence could have really set the tone for who was going to run the show for the next few years, but it could also anger the house – similar to when we tried to modernize the dishwasher connection when we got rid of the Superba dishwasher and installed a new one which resulted in water streaming into our basement from the ceiling, above which sat the dishwasher. (Can someone please tell me why appliances don’t get these fantastic names anymore?)

And let me just say, our second inclination was correct. Already, the house has battled the new owners and won. They ripped out the carpet in the only carpeted room in the whole house. We warned them not to. Told ‘em that the previous owners had wanted to do this but told us there were stains on the floor from a dog that lived there before them that could not be removed. But the new owners are rookies. They thought they could bring in a “professional” and all would be right. Those floors? They are now as dark as possible because after the carpet was ripped out, the guy refinishing the floor said there was no way he could get rid of the stains, so instead he stained the rest of the floor to conceal the dog stain. House 1, new owners 0.

I’m not sure what else they’ve done to the house – and what it has done back, but I do know by the time I got there, they were afraid of their new home. I spent a good deal of time wandering around the house answering questions about switches and plugs. They had not even attempted to turn the garbage disposal on. Instead, they waited to ask me where the switch was. The locks on the kitchen cabinet beneath the sink? They had been intimidated by them so had not stored anything in the cabinet, instead thinking that perhaps we had baby-proofed the cabinet because it was unsafe to use. (See, they're afraid of the house!) There were other instances where rather than attempting to figure something out, instead they just asked me – e.g. – what does this switch do? What are these wires for? By the time I left, I felt a little bit sorry for them. I knew that the house would own them just like it owned us, until the glorious day when they could foist it onto some other young couple looking to own their first home.

We have not yet decided whether we will have an adversarial or pleasant relationship with our new home. So far, we've been consumed with emptying boxes. Regularly, Connor makes a trip around the joint hauling off trash.

I predict by Friday we'll be completely out of boxes in the main part of the house, though some remain in basement storage. And then we can get down to business showing the new place who's the boss.


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