Clearly we don’t do anything normal in my family. (If that’s not evident then you have some major catching up to do on this blog.) So it should come as no surprise that this would apply to me looking for a house.
But it’s time, so instead of quietly looking at houses like a normal person, I came with an entourage…like Beyonce. My mother was part of that entourage. I don’t know why I thought this would NOT be stressful, perhaps a momentary lapse of insanity.
From the time the conversations started, I should have known. When my mom told me she’d been to a rodeo before, to which I responded, “Mom, the phrase is – This is not my first rodeo,” I should have known.
So, the day came, we piled in my car, and my mom decided to sit in the car seat and wear my child’s head phones. Because that’s how she rolls.
We had some time before the showing, so we drove around scouting “for sale” signs to see if there was anything out there we hadn’t seen yet. We drive into one of my top choice neighborhoods. She’s loving it (doesn’t even consider that the houses are WAY above my price range) and just starts spewing how every neighborhood has houses for sale that are in your price range and you just have to look.
“You’d think with all the money in Boca, they’d put the power lines underground. It’s really ridiculous, right Bob?”
“Rachel, I’m serious, you should call city hall!”
“You’re right mom, I’ll get right on that. Why don’t you go ahead and write a letter.”
She’s ooing and ahing. Saying how amazing the neighborhood is and how I have to find something here. It’s perfect. Then we round the corner and there’s a GIANT(It really was abnormally large) white wooden cross in the ground. Right before our eyes, the neighborhood got ripped to shreds.
“Forget it, that looks like a Klan cross. You can’t live here. I mean it has to be. If you were going to put a giant cross in the ground, wouldn’t you want it to be a beautiful one? They are definitely Klan members, there’s no other viable explanation.”
“And you know what else I hate? When the mailboxes are at the end of the driveway. It really makes the neighborhood look so much prettier when the mailboxes are by the front door.”
So we promptly left the Klan headquarters and headed to lunch. I had a liquid appetizer to take the edge off.
And then it was time to go drunk house shopping.
So while she was shoved into the car seat, I laid down the ground rules.
1) No talking to anyone
2) No eye rolling
3) No facial expressions in place of talking
4) No excessive throat clearing to get my attention to show me something she loves, hates, etc.
5) No asking questions, even if it starts with, “My daughter is going to yell at me but I’m her mother and I need to ask you XYZ”
She basically broke almost every rule before we walked into the house. I’m looking around, trying to be quiet and not let on to the seller’s realtor where my head is. And my mom (who apparently never learned the fine art of the whisper) is doing the opposite.
“Oh I LOVE this backyard!” (at a volume of 10)
“Oh this room is tiny!! Who could live in this?” (at a volume of 10)
“Oh you get a nice table for this area it will be fabulous!” (at a volume of 10)
“Oy! These people have chatckies in every space, you could make this look so much bigger. Less is more you know!” (at a volume of 10)
Yes mom, I know. I really know.
And then, as I’m perusing the kitchen, I see it. She is talking, alone, to the seller’s realtor. I felt faint.
“So where ya from” (This is the question asked every time my mom hears a hint of a NY accent so that she can kick off the game of Jewish Geography).
“Massapequa,” he says.
“Get out of here, I’m from Bellmore!”
And just like that, the Long Island connection is made and namedrops like sunrise highway, jones beach, and 10 million neighborhood diners are thrown around.
As I started to gain color back in my face and the lightheadedness began to dissipate, I’m talking to Bob. Bob was there because I love and trust him as a parental figure, but he’s also a contractor by trade and knows his shit. He was crucial to the operation. So when we start talking about the possible renovations the bathroom would need should I decide this is a viable option, my mother inserts herself into the conversation, shouting out random numbers like Rain Man.
And then, the comment that made me almost throw her in the pool came out.
In front of the seller’s realtor, she yells, “Well, if you’re talking about major renovations like that, you may as well look at houses that are 50K more!”
We left. Almost immediately after that.
In the car, we’re talking about prices of possible projects and renovations. Rain Man strikes again and starts pulling numbers out of her ass.
Mom, not a contractor FYI: “You’re talking about retiling a bathroom you’re looking at 15K..at least.”
Bob, a contractor: “Arlyne, what are you talking about, it’s 5K for what she’s talking about. Tops.”
Mom, still not a contractor: “Yeah, but it’s a domino effect! You start with the tile, they you decide to do the vanity, then you pick out different fixtures, then the next thing you know you’re getting a new backsplash for the kitchen! I’ve been to a rodeo before you know!”
It’s the same hubris she has when she says things like she can look at a car and tell you the model year. Jason loves this game.
“How about that one?”
She stands back, seriously looks at it for a minute and shouts out, “2014!”
Then the identical one drives by…”How about that one?”
Every time she has an answer that is said with such confidence and conviction, you really want to believe her. It’s a blessing and a curse. And if she is ever right? Forget it….the gloating that goes on is off the charts.
Even when we got home, it wasn’t over. The texts about all of the things I should do (including drivebys to check out the neighbors), and things to tell the realtor were pouring in. So I started pouring myself more wine.
I better stock up my wine rack now.