"Clearly, Every Applicant Underwent a Criminal Background Check"
Imagine you are a renter, entering our house this Sunday on Move-In Day, acquiver over the fact that you get to live for the next year in a house with stainless steel in the kitchen, a playset for the kids out back, and a jacuzzi tub upstairs.
You might not even care that you're paying $400 more per month than the actual mortgage. You might think the dimmer switch in the tv room renders that cost an out-and-out bargain.
Still and yet, you'd have no idea of the deal you're getting. Although the owners of the house are out larking around Asia Minor, chomping on kebaps and pistachios, you are clearly the winner in this transaction.
Sure, that travelin' family is getting raw experience in haggling over kilim prices at the bazaar, squatting occasionally over a good old-fashioned Turkish toilet, and listening to the home-schooled kids whine that their teachers yell too much,
but one quick trip down the stairs assures you, Dear Renter, that all the best adventure is found in the unfinished, moist basements of the American Midwest.
Do it. Walk down the stairs. Don't rush the descent; there's some lovely wood paneling demanding that you run your fingers over its knotty texture.
At the bottom, take a moment to glance to your right, to the rectangular space where Travelin' Family has stored most of its household goods--save the couch and futon they gave away, the bunkbeds they loaned out, and the tin of octopus (thanks, Mom!) they tossed into the trash--and stifle your shriek of marvel at how much beer-guzzling it must have taken to pack and haul all that junk to the basement in the height of summer mugginess.
Then head left, Young Renter, towards the laundry area. At first glance, it doesn't register that the area is freshly cleaned. The initial appearance smacks only of concrete, drainage, and pipes. You consider the gold medal run Shaun White could put down between the washer and stairs, were the place coated in snow.
Once the first impression of "crappy industrial" recedes, though, a quick sniff test turns up a mixture of Shout, Murphy's Oil Soap, and Redhead Sweat. Yes. Yes. Scrubbing has happened here. That healthy rent is seeming more and more worth the extra hours you'll put in measuring flooring and mollifying customer complaints about splinters there in your job at the home supply store.
But, Renter, oh, Renter. The true treasure of The Rental still eludes you. Carry on.
Not there yet. You're still too far off. At this distance, you hardly can make out the dehumidifier (recently wiped down!) in the corner. Keep shuffling.
Not that the basement ever took on water, but, um, if it did, the Clever Renter might be able to trace its trajectory.
Yes. Now you're closing in on it. No, I don't mean that source of natural light on the right, that thing called "window"--discovered only today by a sweating redhead when she cleared off the cobwebs and pulled down the rags (curtains!!) framing the glass. Nae. Look left, Dear Bank Account Filler. There is a different piece of glass, also recently Windexed.
What ho, Cher Renter! See those strange things running along the bottom of that sparkling glass?
More importantly, what unearthly apparition in a blue tank top has appeared in Glass, with one breast oddly cradled inside a camera strap holster? Is an exorcism on the agenda? Or a trip to Victoria's Secret?
Ahhh. Wait. Who can ponder ghostly breasts when--whoooooeeeeee!--the line of objects is coming into focus.
Could it be...
...that someone is greeting you, the newcomer, with a hearty "Welcome Back"?
...that any amount of rent is worth it, if it means living in a house that features "Mr. Kotttttt-air" above the laundry sink?
Who knew snappy one liners were built into the lease?
Who knew Vinnie Barbarino would be the basement-dwelling bonus...the silver lining of agreeing to handle snow removal in a city that averages more than 80" per year?
Who knew, dear Renter, that simply by moving in,
by acknowleding that your dreams were your ticket out,
you'd become an honorary member of a lifelong club?
Admit it, Horshack: the first time you walked through this house with the rental agent, you could not have envisioned the day when you would reach down into the laundry sink, grab the tube extending from the faucet--so useful for cleaning paintbrushes and muddy running shoes--and initiate your spouse into the new abode by quipping:
"Up your nose with a rubber hose, honey."