My husband used to buy GAP jeans without ever trying them on. Lo and behold, they fit. His plan was simple. He’d walk up to a shelf, find his size, take them to the register and pay the lady. It’s incomprehensible, I know. Said foolishness occurred long before we were married—long before I entered the fray, insisting that he try the silly things on before he plunked down any green.
It’s not because I’m a mean and horrible troll, but because I’m a kind and caring individual who’d hate to see him potentially waste a moment of his valuable time traipsing all the way back to the store to return a perfectly good pair of pants for the express purpose of obtaining another perfectly good pair of pants—that most assuredly fit. Eventually—I argued time and again—his plan would fall apart and he’d end up having to make that trip. Ergo, it makes absolutely no sense to buy without trying. And after 11+ years of marriage, I’ve finally convinced him of the inherent wisdom of my ways. Never mind that he did just fine without me.
Not surprisingly, it’s been less difficult to get my kids to adopt a similar policy—whether we’re talking about buying britches or bunk beds. For whatever reason, they understand and have applied my logic. I think it’s because they have observed that rational people, by and large, test stuff out and make sure that it fits or that it is completely and unequivocally adored before a commitment is made. So it stands to reason that they’d view house hunting in much the same manner. Only just this once, I wish it weren’t so. I’ll bet our agent wishes so, too.
On one of many tours of properties recently, our two little tester-outers carried the try-before-you-buy theory to a level heretofore unimagined, humiliating me beyond all comprehension in the process. Granted, it’s what they do best. For a time, my husband and I were able to keep their conduct and boundless enthusiasm in check (which is all but impossible during that horrendous after-school-and-before-dinnertime decompression phase I’ve grown to know and loathe). Ultimately, however, they seized the opportunity laid before them, knowing full well we wouldn’t beat them senseless for their many and varied transgressions—at least not in front of the real estate agent.
So with wild abandon, Seek and Destroy climbed into and out of bathtubs and showers (ad infinitum!), analyzing every curve and nuance contained within. They carefully evaluated banisters and stairwells for slipperiness and sliding potential, actually putting that darling little feature to the test across glistening hardwood floors. Apparently, the allure was simply too great to resist. “Mom, why don’t WE have slippery-ific floors like these?! They’re so COOL!” Likewise, they examined cupboards and closets, pantries and porticos, poring over them for what seemed an eternity, sampling firsthand their hidey-hole worthiness.
As if that wasn’t enough to make us completely berserk, at a few of the places we visited they went outside and actually dug in the dirt. They examined drainage pipes on all fours, poked sticks in bunny nests, swung like idiots from tree limbs, gathered an embarrassment of rocks and twigs and other assorted foolishness “…to take home because it’s special, Mom.” What’s more, they raced (ran laps actually) through pristine foyers and grand hallways as if completely possessed—appraising them throughout the process for echo potential.
Fuck yes, echo potential!
Garages were similarly assessed.
At long last, my dear progenies shifted their attention. No longer were they bent on completing their frenzied mission to devour all-things-glorious-and-impossibly-fascinating-about-this-or-that-property. Instead, they became fixated on a hapless fly. One that was half dead by the time they stumbled upon him minding his own business in an upstairs bedroom. Of course, his presence could not be ignored.
He was special, after all, and thought to possess amazing and wonderful abilities.
Carefully, they placed him inside a Kleenex and brought him to where we stood, smack in the middle of the gourmet kitchen we longed to ogle. “This is Buzz! The talented fly!” they crowed with delight, proud to introduce their winged friend to us all.
“What exactly does he do,” I had to inquire, consummate fool that I am.
“Well, he can hop and twirl and run into walls and stuff! Especially when we touch his wings!” they explained—all the while demonstrating the particularly impressive twirling motion, complete with sound effects, “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!”
“Wanna hear him buzz?!” my heathens had the audacity to ask of our agent. “That’s why we named him, Buzz, you know!” I’m quite sure this is the point at which I became thoroughly mortified—at a total loss for words to express how sorry I was that she must tolerate the weirdness of my children. The poor woman had endured so much already and was now forced to LISTEN to a wretched fly beat his sorry wings against a tissue to amuse a couple of six-year-olds. She did just that, of course—to appease this strange, strange family on a mission to try-before-they-buy.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel