Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When you're a goat...

Two and a half weeks ago I finally agreed with my husband that it was time to stop waiting on other people to tell us what to do with our lives and start looking for our next house.  Tackling a large purchase such as this I expected to run into problems.  I base this expectation on my experience apartment shopping.  For instance...

I lived for a few years with three friends.  There being four of us, we looked for a four bedroom apartment.  Four bedroom apartments are extremely scarce in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, I'm quite certain we visited all three apartment complexes that advertised four bedrooms in one apartment. 

The first apartment complex we visited seemed lovely.  It was nicely wooded and situated by a lake.  I was imagining all the lake fun we could have until we actually saw the apartment, the first problem being... we couldn't.  While the landlord swore up and down that he would have a four bedroom apartment available when we needed it, he couldn't show us one.  He couldn't even show us a drawing of one.  He could show us a three bedroom apartment. 

As we walked through he pointed out how there would be an opening here, another hall here, the room down there, and as I looked about the example apartment he showed us I realized something.  He was going to construct a four bedroom apartment out of one or more smaller apartments.  He was going to punch holes in the walls.  And the apartment that I was in showed the signs of his workmanship, uneven walls, crooked electrical outlets, rattlely doors.  I'm looking at this apartment thinking, "If I sneeze the temporary wall between me and the next bathroom over is going to come crashing down, and I'm going to see more of my neighbors than I ever wanted do." 


We extracated ourselves from that apartment complex as gracefully as we could without signing any paperwork. 

Another complex advertized brand new four bedroom townhomes.  "A townhome," we thought, "wouldn't the cats have such a wonderful time tearing up and down the steps of a townhome!"  So excitedly we set off to visit this lovely four bedroom townhome.  The complex was immaculate, the buildings brand new.  With great anticipation we wandered around the place we hoped would be our new home.  The top floor held three bedrooms and two baths.  Beautiful!  The second floor encompased the living dining and kitchen areas with a half bath for guests.  Fantastic!  The bottom floor included the garage, laundry area, and the fourth bedroom. 

"Where's the bathroom?" we asked.  That's right.  The poor fool who inhabited this bedroom would have to climb two flights of stairs to take a shower.  I liken this 'marketing only' bedroom to the 'insurance only' backseat of many moderately priced sports cars.  It looks good on paperwork but in practice it might be a good place to store your packages, but it's certainly not somewhere to sleep (or sit). 

This led me to form a new definition of bedroom.  A room can only be defined as a bedroom if it has a) a closet and b) a place to bathe on the same level.

So when my husband and I set out to look for our new (to us) home I expected a few chalenges.  I expected I would need to keep an eye out for shoddy workmanship.  I expected that in a search for 4 bedrooms and 3 baths I might come upon questionable definitions of 'bedroom'.  But I expected I could handle these chalenges and that there would be few surprises as we set out to look at houses the first day.


It took only one house to open my eyes to the world of real estate, and what we had in store.  The very first house we saw was a departure from anything we could have expected.  I should have known something was wrong just from the pictures in the listing.  Oh, there was nothing wrong with the pictures, they were lovely, it's just that there were only two of them.  We saw a nice style in front and a large yard in back, and from the description we thought it could be just what we were looking for. 

Arriving at the front it looked just like the picture, stately placed in a natural yard beautifully flanked by trees.  But as we walked up the driveway we noticed the broken pane in the garage door window. 

"A pane," I thought, "That's easily fixed.  No problem here."  And I kept walking when I should have turned around.

The first thing we saw in the foyer was the dated white tile.  "They must have dropped a few bowling balls in here," appologized our agent as he pointed out the broken places.

"That's alright, it's dated and would need to be replaced anyway," but then my eyes slid up the stained carpet on the stairs, and my husband commented on the hardwoods in the adjoining room, and we realized all the floors in the house would need replacing.  As we wandered through there were stacks of magazines on every table.  We tripped over a vacume cleaner left in the middle of a doorway.  The dated tile, broken in many places, extended through to the kitchen.  Bits of breakfast in the kitchen with a half full glass of... something.  I wondered what this family was thinking.

Let me clarify a bit first.  It's not like our visit was unexpected.  We had not randomly stopped at a house just to knock on the door and see if we could walk through.  No, we had an appointment scheduled several days in advance.  If they had wanted to tidy up even a bit you would think they would have put away the vacume, put the breakfast dishes in the sink, or put the panties in the hamper.  It was obvious that this family either didn't want to sell the house, or hadn't a clue how to go about it. 

My tolerance was high for the decor of this house, the beaded curtain in one of the doorways, the pink tile backsplash in the kitchen which tied in with the pink marble surround on the fireplace; for when we went down the stairs the the basement I commented with sarcasm the lovely teal shade of the capet.  I chalked it up as one more flooring to be replaced in this house of horrid floors.  We looked into an obviously un-air conditioned long, large room that could be used as... a playroom?  Home theatre maybe?  Another small room could be an office, and a half bath for convenience. 

And finally the last room of the house.  An unfinished work-shop/storage room with large double doors leading outside.  I stepped in, heard a sound, and could not figure out it's source.  A couple more steps and I was fairly certain it was comming from the other side of those large doors leading outside.  My orriginal intention which had been to open the doors and see the yard was replaced with an uncomfortable nerviousness about what could be causing these strange scraping sounds.  I stopped still, and turning to my husband my eyes passes over something in the middle of the floor that I couldn't at first process.  Turning back and pointing I finally realized.

"They have a goat."

The thing I had failed at first to notice was a large bag standing up in the middle of the floor, clearly labled Goat Food. I didn't even know goat food came great bags just like the largest bag of dog food I've ever seen in a warehouse wholesale club.

I hear it now.  Just like that lean in Fellowship of the Ring where Boromir looks at the horde of goblins and nasties decending on his little group and calmly observes, "They have a cave troll."  I felt as he must, overwhelmed by the situation to the point of numbness. 

Well that eradicated my desire to see that lovely, large back yard.  Climbing back up the stairs to the main level I felt two things.  The first was an overwhelming desire to wash my hands which I'd been feeling within minutes of entering the house.  The second was a confused feeling.  Perhaps I was dreaming that I had entered a bizare Orwellian world where people live in up-scale suburban comunities, and yet they choose to live with farm animals. 

But I haven't read Animal Farm lately.  sigh  Perhaps I've been watching to much Whose Line.

Or perhaps real life is crazier than anything I could ever dream.