You guys, I accidentally stumbled into a reality show yesterday!
OK, so it wasn’t a real reality show, but it totally would have been if House Hunters, Hoarders and Obsessed were combined into one show.
I should have known there would be a problem when I walked up the driveway and saw at least a dozen of those concrete garden figurines. You know…gnomes and such. Only they weren’t whimsically situated in the landscaping; they were kind of all bunched together in two groups with a circle of white landscaping bricks around each circle.
Odd, thought I, but the exterior of a house doesn’t necessarily define the interior of it.
Take my parents, for instance. My mom has always decorated and maintained the interior of the house and has kept it in impeccable condition, but she’s taken a back seat to my dad when it comes to the exterior. I think it’s her way of throwing him a bone and making him feel like he has some say in…well, anything. It hasn’t always worked out for the best, though.
The great garage debacle comes to mind.
My dad decided that he wanted to paint our shutters. We lived in a white colonial with simple, dignified black shutters.
Interesting factoid – Do you know what color most shutters are in Italy? Green.
I guess my dad was feeling homesick or something, so he decided it would be a good idea to paint our shutters green – not just any green, though. No. Not my dad. He picked the brightest kelly green paint he could find. No, seriously. Leprechauns walked by the house and were all, ‘Damn, those are some bright green shutters. What were they thinking?’
He didn’t stop at the blinding shutters, though. He decided to paint the (2-car!) garage door as well. Close your eyes and imagine a cookie-cutter neighborhood of ranches, split levels and colonials in various muted tones. Then imagine a white colonial with tacky kelly green shutters and a garish kelly green garage door. Did the needle just run across the record in your head?
I guess even my dad thought the garage door was a bit much, so he decided to paint the center squares of it white and leave the cross bars green. You know…to break it up a bit.
It looked like Christmas candy.
Did I mention that our house was situated directly on a ‘T’ intersection where a stop sign forced every single car to soak it in?
You know when you’re an awkward tween and you just want to blend? It’s kind of hard to blend when your parents are immigrants and your dad marches to the beat of an accordion.
One day he came home with a Vespa motor scooter. It was big and bulky and silver. Because he’s safety-conscious and…ahem…frugal, he bought himself a helmet at a yard sale. It was metallic gold.
Close your eyes and imagine a white colonial with a Christmas candy garage door opening and a metallic gold-helmeted Super Mario brother buzzing out of it on his silver Vespa.
Just. Wanted. To. Blend.
Your dad’s so cute! He looks like Super Mario!
Me: My friends think you’re cute.
Dad: I don’t like ‘cute’; it’s one step above ugly.
Oh, and I lied when I said my dad is safety-conscious. He’s the king of jerry-rigging (you know, because he’s…frugal). One time? When he couldn’t get a good picture on his television? He fashioned himself an antenna out of the electrical cord from a broken appliance of some sort. He attached it to the back of the television and painstakingly maneuvered it into the venetian blinds until the picture was perfect.
Remember back in the day when you’d have to fool around with rabbit ears to make the television picture clear? I think my dad secretly misses those days. It was as close as he ever got to being a NASA scientist.
Everything was just fine until my anal-retentive mother decided to vacuum the room a few days later, saw the cord in the blinds and plugged it into the wall. Fortunately, the switch on the wall that activated the outlet was in the off position, so nothing happened…until my dad walked into the room the next day, turned on the light switch and blew up the television.
The debate over which of them was most wrong still rages on.
Anyway, back to the gnomes…
The interior of the house looked like Walt Disney had vomited all over it. There were figurines everywhere – Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Buzz Lightyear – easily a thousand of them. There were three Disney ceiling fans in the house (one in the family room). The bedrooms had Disney curtains, Disney sheets and Disney bedspreads. The dining room had Mickey and Minnie tablecloth and a framed picture of Pluto on the wall. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Me: Do you have children?
He was wearing a red sweatshirt with a small Mickey Mouse embroidered over his heart. She was wearing a t-shirt with a giant Tinkerbell that extended from her shoulder to her hip and said ‘WARNING: Mood subject to change without notice’. At least four times in the 82 minutes I was there, I had to remember to close my gaping mouth.
Me: Where do you plan to move when you sell your house?
Me: Oh, that’s nice! Where in Florida?
Homeowner: We’re not sure yet.