"Dear Home Buyer"

Some tips on how to "appreciate" our house.

Dear Home Buyer(s):

Our realtor, James, suggested we "become scarce" during our open house. He even gave us tickets to see the Malaysian subtitled version of Titanic, which is playing at the Cle Elum multiplex. So before you peruse our open house, we ask you, home buyer, to read this flyer that clarifies the alleged "blemishes" that enhance this historic Seattle ranch house, which James inexplicably listed as a "fixer-upper." We had suggested a "Ready for Gentrification" listing.

We initially thought not having a front door was a flaw. No more. Summer breezes aired the house and winter drafts encouraged us to subscribe to the Aerobic Channel, which helped us combat hypothermia and inertia. (Guess what. We canceled our health club membership.) And a door-free entrance, which soon became our favorite passage into the house, was fortuitous. As home to two bipolar teens, the house suffered an epidemic of slamming doors, but sans exterior door, the children—as they so often do—redirected their ineffable, incandescent hostility toward more appropriate targets: each other. After neighbors protested the occasional full-frontal nudity that flashed across the door-free aperture, we tacked that pink flamingo shower curtain to the lintel. At one time the curtain softened the vivid chartreuse house paint, but as dumb luck would have it, the paint has flaked from the siding, restoring the house to its natural weathered look

Yes, it's true! The main bathroom tub's faucet drips every two seconds. (Go ahead, time it.) Amazingly this dripping rendered the main bathroom a perfect time-out room for offspring bent on testing boundaries. Thirty minutes of droplets splattering on vinyl makes for a change instrument that would have elicited a satisfied chortle from B.F. Skinner. Our Johnny's GPA rocketed to 3.5 just three weeks after he underwent "leaky faucet aversion therapy." (To our chagrin, as a side-effect Johnny refuses to bathe, and to obviate auditory allusions to running water, which prompt Johnny to recite algebraic theorems, he takes all fluids intravenously.) Though we discussed installing the leaky faucet in our new home's tub, we decided to leave it for the buyer to enjoy. We've chosen to use a "Sixties Greatest Hits" boxed set to correct ill-advised behavior.

We won't raise our asking price even though the shag carpet is peeling off the living room floor. An unmoored carpet gives the buyer the opportunity to solve a fun conundrum: 1) either deracinate the carpet to showcase the original press-board floor, or 2) deracinate the carpet to lay new carpet. The living room's mottled wallpaper? Though a water-spattered wall may indicate dry rot, that is probably not likely here. Last week when I accidentally backed into the wall, my corduroy-clad buttocks cast a faint Escher-woodcut-like impression in the wallboard. But from across the room on a dark afternoon with the blinds drawn, the wall looks new. Still, if buyers so desire, we will install (at cost) orange reflector highway cones at the wall's base.

In November I traced the water trickling through the bonus room ceiling to its source. In January I drilled through the roof and sleeved the fresh hole with a straw. The straw channels rain water to the handsome, baby-blue Tupperware pail stationed beneath it. To buyers who say, "You need a new roof," we rejoin, "Not so." This straw and pail is no makeshift mitigation, but an exemplar of a mellifluous water feature. And in the dry months the Tupperware can be scrubbed clean and used to store deviled eggs. Handy, huh?

The four holes in the guest room's Sheetrock came at significant medical expense to Joan's brother, Jason. To prevent gypsum from chalk-marking clothing, we duct-taped the holes. Also, to remind us and guests that violence is never a solution, we matted, framed, and tacked an X-ray of Jason's turgid, dislocated knuckles above the patchwork. The duct tape, which engenders a casual, lived-in feel, creates a guest room conducive to repose; and in a pinch, I've snipped pieces from that duct tape to wrap Christmas gifts.

Of 16 kitchen cabinets, 12 lack doors. This speaks to our efforts to preserve the historic ranch house atmosphere. (If you know Western films, ranch kitchens had open shelves, not cabinets.) Please note: we use the cabinets with doors to store Viagra, liquor, and firearms. We suggest the lucky buyer do likewise . . . lead us not to temptation, right?

The rest of the house is equally, though not as patently, impressive. We hope this flyer helps buyers comprehend the difference between degradation and what may actually comprise an ingenious melding of form, function, and lifestyle, a stylized show of pre-gentrification, which, when selecting a home, is priceless indeed.

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