The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Category Archives for ‘Fiction-ish’

Would a Rose Named ‘Pink Taco’ Smell as Sweet?

The branding agency where they came up with the names of my eyeshadows:

*Three men in shirts and ties are seated around a small table with nine shades of eye shadow scattered between them. The oldest of the three begins speaking.*

Charlie Benson, Creative Director: Ok, gentlemen, today we’ve got a palette of eye shadows to name. Amanda was supposed to head this project, but she’s out with strep throat and we’re up against a deadline, so I’m stepping in and we’re just going to knock it out. Davis, bring us up to speed on the demographic and directive of this product.

Jason Davis, Senior Ad Guy: The demographic is women, age 14-45. The product as a whole is a “Natural Eye Kit”. The client research team reports that women want to feel sexy when they’re putting on makeup, so they want us to sex the eye shadow names up. The first shade is a creamy off-white and the client suggested the name ‘Heaven’ for it.

Charlie: Hmm. Heaven. I guess that could be sort of sexy. We can do better than that, though. Let’s move on to this next shade. It looks kind of taupe-ish. Sexy images that come to mind when you think of taupe, go.

Andre Porter, Eager New Guy: Camel, skin, dirt, sand…

Davis: You’re just saying things that are brown, Andre. What about the texture… it looks kind of velvet-y. Velvet is a sexy word, right?

Charlie: Velvet is ok… but it’s been done. It needs to be sexy and edgy, don’t you think? Let’s take it to the next level. How about ‘Velvet Revolver’? Because it’s soft, but also violent. It’s pretty, but powerful. That’s like female sex appeal right there, in a box with a bow… no pun intended. *Elbows Andre and winks*

Davis: It’s also an all-male hard rock band, though…

Andre: I like it! What woman wouldn’t feel sexy brushing her eyelids with a shade named after the combination of GNR and STP? It’s genius.

Charlie: Thank you, Andre. I agree. OK, moving on.

Davis: The next color is a matte dark brown. It looks like chocolate. Or coffee. Espresso is kind of sensual with all of those Ss.

Charlie: Davis, I just fell asleep while you were talking. I think you need an espresso to wake up and give us some new ideas! How many times can we name a women’s beauty product color after a caffeinated beverage before they throw us out of the business for being completely unoriginal?

Davis: Sorry, I was just brainstorming. I didn’t get much sleep last night with the new baby-

Andre: I KNOW, ‘Sexpresso’!! Like espresso, but WITH sex. We’ll just put the word ‘sex’ on the front of espresso! Get it? Sexpresso.

Charlie: That…

Davis: *Quietly* is the dumbest-

Charlie: … is brilliant, Andre! It’s so simple and perfect. I don’t know how I didn’t think of it myself!

Andre: Well you probably would have, eventually. It just came to me faster.

Davis: You know ‘espresso’ isn’t spelled with an X, right? Just to be clear?

Charlie: Sexpresso. It might be my new favorite word. I’m going to text my assistant right now and tell her to run out and get me a sexpresso with whipped cream.

Davis: I think that could be considered sexual harassment.

Charlie: We are on a roll, boys. What do we think for this shimmery pink color?

Andre: Nipples?

Davis: You seriously did not just say that.

Charlie: Too far, Andre. Too far. We want to leave something to the imagination. What about something with lingerie? Women like garters and nightgowns and stuff like that. It makes them feel sexy.

Davis: How about ‘Silk Teddy’? Do they still call it a ‘teddy’? I just wrote that word down and it looks wrong. Is a teddy a sexy thing? My wife only wears this really old pair of yoga pants and an XL tie-dye shirt I wore for Halloween one year to bed.

*Charlie and Andre pause for a second and stare at Davis with a mixture of pity and disgust.*

Charlie: Silk Teddy is good. I’m not sure how you got there with what you’re working with, but I think we should go with it.

Davis: The next one is a darker shimmery pink.

Andre: So… going along with the theme of sexy undergarments, what about ‘Push-Up’?

Charlie: Like the popsicles?

Andre: No, like the bra. I met this girl last weekend out at a bar and she had this amazing… *gestures with both hands near his chest* figure. But when I got her home and out of her clothes, there wasn’t nearly as much going on up top as I thought. She apparently had on one of those push-up bras. Women are really into them.

Davis: I’m not sure we want to evoke the image of an artifice women have constructed in an attempt to compensate for society’s male-driven unnatural expectations. Do women really feel sexy in a push-up bra?

Andre: Maybe you’re thinking about it the wrong way. Studies show women find other women’s bodies attractive and sexy, even if they’re not gay. The push-up bra makes them think of sexy cleavage.

Davis: What ‘studies’ are you citing here?

Andre: It’s a thing. I’m telling you. I go out a lot. Women are always getting handsy with each other.

Charlie: I feel like I might need more details on this situation from you, Andre. We should discuss it further over lunch. But I’m agreeing with you on the name. Push-up works. It’s hot.

Davis: *Sighs* The next one is dark brown with a gold sparkly undertone. ‘Erotica’?

Charlie and Andre: Yes!

Charlie: You nailed it. My wife just finished 50 Shades of Grey and let me tell you, I think my laptop might be starting to feel a little slighted because it’s not getting nearly as much attention late at night.

*Davis and Andre almost imperceptibly shudder.*

Davis: Let’s just get this done. This next one is also shimmery pink, but the sparkly grains are larger. It’s like a pink, glittery beach.

Charlie: How about ‘Nude Beach’? For our 25th anniversary, Janet and I went to Italy and I talked her into going to a nude beach with me-

Andre: *Desperately interrupting to make the story stop* But do women really find them sexy? I’ve heard nude beaches can be impractical, what with sand and crevices and things. Is that sexy?

Davis: *Exhausted, dejected and regretting life choices* I’m pretty sure, at this point you’re over-thinking it. It’s not the worst thing we could call it.

Charlie: I like it. Ok, so this gold one here. It’s a pretty sexy shade in and of itself. It needs a really good name.

Andre: It’s like a gold coin. Or a sunset over water. Or shiny honey.

Davis: “Shiny honey”? Where did you go to school again?

Charlie: ‘Honey Pot’. We’ll call it Honey Pot. That’s fantastic.

Davis: I just Urban Dictionaried that and it literally means ‘vagina’. Or ‘vulva’. You want to name the color of this eye shadow marketed to women after their own genitals; that’s what you’re saying here.

Charlie: Now who has a dirty mind? I just think it looks like honey, it’s in a little container, and another word for ‘container’ is ‘pot’. I think it’s inspired.

 Davis: As long as it’s clear you get credit for that one directly, whatever you say, boss. Last, but not least, another dark brown. In a warmer tone.

Charlie: *Looking at his watch* It’s pretty close to lunch. Let’s wrap this up.

Andre: ‘Cocoa Puff’?

Davis: How is that sexy in any way? Isn’t it a cereal?

Andre: Charlie said lunch and I got hungry. I don’t know.

Charlie: It’s OK, not great, but let’s put a pin in it and rehash it later. Good work, boys. Home run on that ‘Sexpresso’, Andre. I see a bright future for you in this business. Let’s go get lunch and you can tell me more about this research you’ve been doing with the women and how they feel about other women’s bodies…


The Time We Got Mauled

Wednesday afternoon a client emailed me requesting to see a house in Gilbert that evening. It was occupied, so before we went over to see it, I called the listing agent to have him set up an appointment for us to view.

Me: Hi, this is Elizabeth Newlin with Thompson’s Realty. I would like to show your listing on Glade Ave. at 5:30 tonight. Will that work for your seller?

Listing Agent: Yes, that will be fine. They do have two dogs, so I will have the owner’s son either take them out to the dog run on the side of the house at that time or out for a walk. Thanks for showing!

At 5:30 on the dot I pulled up in front of the two story house in my GOV with Jonas in his car seat watching a movie. Between about 2:30 and 6 pm if I’m showing property I will unfailingly have Jonas with me. It’s after school gets out but before Jason gets home. Bennett is old enough to keep an eye on Gray for an hour or so during daylight hours, but adding Jonas to the mix would surely result in a my returning to a smoke-filled neighborhood teeming with fire engines and cop cars 45 minutes later. So if I have to show a late afternoon house, I do it with Jo in tow.

I got out of the car, opened Jo’s door and waived to my client, who had pulled up behind me. She got out, slowly maneuvering her 7 months pregnant belly out from around the steering wheel and extracted her two year old son from his car seat.

“Hi, Iz!” the two year old greeted me as we all trooped up to the front door.

I let Jonas push the button to ring the doorbell and we all stood there, waiting to be let in. There was a lockbox on the front door, but Realtor etiquette dictates if a house is occupied you should always ring the doorbell or knock before using the lockbox in case the seller is home.

After a minute or so with no response to the doorbell, I assumed the seller had taken the dogs for a walk, like the listing agent said they might and I used my ekey to open the lockbox and take out the key.

I opened the door, grabbed Jonas’s hand and ushered my client and her son through the front door.

“So we’ve seen this floor plan a couple of times before, right?” I said, stepping past them and glancing around at a familiar entryway and circular stair.

“Yeah, at least once. I think it’s one we’ve liked the layout of, so that’s good,” my client agreed.

We turned to the left to head for the kitchen, through the dining room, when we heard the soft thump of footsteps coming down the stairs toward us. I grabbed Jonas’s hand and swiveled around, ready to apologize to the owner for barging in on him and explain that we’d rung the doorbell and had a showing appointment.

Instead of a human owner coming down the stairs, however, I was greeted by a pair of canine occupants; one some kind of a lab mix and the other a tiny, fat chihuahua.

I froze in my tracks. The dogs were home! The agent had promised they would be gone, or at least outside. Here we were, two women (one seven months pregnant) and two children under the age of four. The likelihood of us out running the animals like people always manage to in movies seemed zero. I’d like to say that in that moment with my life and the life of my youngest son on the line, my brain and instincts kicked into high gear, but that would be a lie. In that moment of mortality, my mind stalled like an engine given too much gas. I just stood there as the dogs progressed.

The lab, sensing my fear and obviously trained to protect his territory, growled a warning, low in his throat and sped up his pace toward us. The fur in the center of his back stood on end. His teeth were bared.

When the dog was two feet from the bottom of the stairs my paralysis lifted. Jonas, clamped to my right hand, was closest to the bottom of the steps. I wrenched my arm backward as hard as I could, yanking him back behind me just as the lab reached the final stair and leaped, with an angry, barking roar.

His mouth connected with my left shoulder. His teeth sunk into the fleshy part underneath my shoulder blade. The pain was hot and instantaneous. He let go of my shoulder and I dropped Jonas’s hand to swing back around and push the dog back with my hands. His second bite dug deep into the center of my right hand, between the tiny bones that control my fingers. Blood immediately began dripping from the tip of my middle finger and pooling on the cheap faux-wood flooring.

While I tried desperately to keep the lab from my now sobbing son, the chihuahua took on my client. She held her son in her arms, high above the tiny dog’s jump range, but her ankles were bare to his attack. Her legs below the knees were quickly shredded and bleeding from small claws and teeth. Her son was shocked into a stupor; too terrified and traumatized to cry.

Or… OK, the part after we saw the dogs is what happened in my head in the split second after we glimpsed them coming down the stairs toward us.

What really happened was:

Me (heart beating so loudly in my temples and the roof my mouth I can hardly hear anything else, hand like a steel trap around Jonas’s): Uh, we need to go. I’m not comfortable with this.

Large dog pads down the stairs calmly, glancing at us with a lazy disinterest. Tiny dog yips a good-natured hello.

Jonas: Mom, you’re hurting my hand.

My Client: Ok… really? They don’t seem like they’re that bothered by us.

Me: It doesn’t matter. We need to leave. NOW. (The last word whisper-shouted with an equal desire to communicate urgency to my client and show calmness and a lack of fear in the general direction of the dogs lest they sense I’m scared to death and take it as their cue to eat me.)

We made it out the door unharmed, slammed it shut and locked it behind us. But it could have easily gone the other way. Get your shit together listing agents of houses with dogs. Cause I’m working on a lawsuit for heart palpitations caused by fear of dog mauling.

Memorial Day Musings On My Scale

This morning I stepped on the scale for the first time in awhile and for a brief instant as the numbers flashed up at me I thought I’d lost 12 pounds.

Holy shit, I thought to myself, I am going to look so good in my swimsuit at the barbeque today!

But then I remembered I’d tried on the swimsuit the day before after I’d rinsed the cat pee out of it (that cat is really testing the limits of normal human sanity if he expects to keep this up and live to see the end of 2011) and it had looked OK, but definitely not 12-pounds-less OK. It looked ‘hides my stretch marks pretty well and doesn’t showcase my muffin-top region’ decent, not ‘what I weighed sophomore year in college when I lived off campus and was a little lonely and didn’t eat very often but weighed myself 3 times a day’ awesomely skinny. I would know if I looked that good.

I realized there had to be another reason for the change in my weight. The explanation could only be that a change in the Earth’s mass had taken place, causing a small but perceptible reduction in the gravitational pull. A piece of the Earth must have broken off and floated into space.

I wondered if the global scientists knew about this. It could potentially be a huge catastrophe. I mean, maybe it was just some obscure and uninteresting part of the world that we would never miss, like Kentucky, but what if it was that country where they make all of the things that are sold at IKEA? Where is that, Sweden? Switzerland? Germany? China? What if that part of the world was drifting off into space right now? How would we inexpensively remodel our kitchens with cabinets that would be out of fashion in 3 years if all of our ‘easy to assemble if you got a degree in Engineering from a Division One college’ cabinet parts were floating to Mars?

I knew I needed to alert the proper authorities right away just in case they hadn’t yet noticed. Maybe my iPad could do it. That thing has so much capability I can’t even begin to grasp. It’s like the human brain; I’m really only using 10% of its potential. If I could figure out how to even use 50% of it, it could probably teach me to teleport.

Flush with the adrenaline only attempting to avert a global crisis can summon, I stepped off the scale to find my iPad and contact NASA, and the scale slipped down off of the edge of the baseboard and crashed a half a centimeter onto the tile below.

“Oh,” I said to no one, “I guess it was too close to the wall.”

When I stepped back on the numbers jumped up 12.5 pounds from where they had just been. So what I’m saying is: it’s possible a piece of Mars broke off 7 years ago, floated toward us and attached itself to Earth’s mass last night, thus causing a small, but perceptible increase in the Earth’s gravitational pull. That or the deal I got on mint chocolate chip ice cream last week is having an effect on my own personal gravitational pull.

One of the two.

I hope your Memorial Day is as exciting and dramatic as mine has been!


Real Estate Can Be Torture

The light bulb vibrated in its IKEA bedside lamp, causing an almost ignorable hum. The southwestern patterned drapes over the blackout shades were drawn tightly shut. The gold flipover deadbolt on the door was closed securely against possible intrusion. A ‘Privacy Please’ door sign hung on the doorknob outside the room.

The desk chair was pulled out into the middle of the room, facing away from the door. He was seated in the chair, shivering, ankles lashed to the front legs of the chair with plastic zip ties. She’d found those in his garage near a pile of open house signs. He’d apparently been using them to attach the metal signs to the frames. Handy little suckers, those zip ties. Handy, and strong. She’d used one to tie his hands back behind the chair, as well.

She stood several feet in front of him, with one hand rubbing her pregnant belly and took in her handiwork. He wasn’t going anywhere soon; she’d done a good job.

“Do you know why you’re here?” she asked, engaging the man for the first time since she’d ordered him into her car and up the stairs to the hotel room with what looked like a gun in her pocket.

“I … I don’t even know who you are,” he stuttered, close to tears. His teeth chattered from the cranked up AC and his soft middle-aged paunch jiggled. He wore a sweater of chest and back hair, silk boxer shorts decorated with dollar signs and nothing else. He only barely resembled the business card photo of him in a lime green polo shirt with a cocky smirk pasted on his face she had in her purse by which to identify him.

“I bet you don’t know who I am. I bet you never gave me a second thought. That’s why you’re here. I want you to remember my face when you confess what you’ve done. I’m… the buyer,” she spat at him.

He gasped and understanding crept into his eyes, “The buyer of my house? That buyer?”

She ignored him and turned to her bag on the bed. She opened the large black purse and rifled through it, finally pulling out a fabric roll tied in the center. He watched nervously as she untied it, unrolled a collection of stainless steel tools and laid them on the bed. It looked like she’d wandered around her suburban home and picked up anything she could find that was small and sharp. There were cuticle clippers, an Exacto knife and a Leatherman tool among other instruments. She even had a set of hair clippers. He shivered again, wondering what exactly she had in mind.

Her hand hovered over the collection as she weighed her options. Finally she plucked a pair of razor sharp tweezers from the bunch. She turned to the terrified man in the chair and swaggered over to him, one hand wielding the tweezers and the other resting on her belly. She knelt, with moderate effort, on his left-side next to his head.

“You have something, right here, that’s been bothering me,” she purred into his ear, aimed the tweezers and yanked a centimeter-long grey hair that had been protruding from his ear.

He screamed in agony.

“Ow! That hurt! What are you doing?! What do you want from me??” the agent yelled.

She giggled with glee and moved around to look him directly in the eyes. She reached up to his between his eyes and found an errant hair right in the center. She closed the tweezers around it and yanked as hard as she could.

“Please, no more!” he bellowed, “I can’t take the pain!”

“Oh, the pain. You poor dear,” she smirked condescendingly. “You don’t even know pain yet. But you will …”

“No! Stop! I’ll do whatever you want,” he begged.

She paused and considered. She glanced at her tools forlornly and then back at him, a gleam of excitement in her eyes, “Hmm, so you’re ready to give me what I want already? A little extra AC, some tweezing and you’re putty in my hands, eh? You Arizona Realtors sure are soft, aren’t you?”

She stood with help from the bed, shook her short, dark hair and smoothed her dress calmly, too calmly. He could see the storm coming.

“Here’s what I want, it’s really very easy, I want you to confess your sins!” She leaned down into his face and shrieked the last three words. Her lips curled back and he could see her white, even teeth. He could feel her hot breath on his face. She’d eaten a carne asada burrito recently. He’d never been so scared in his life.

“My sins? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh you don’t? Huh,” she said, picking up a pair of cuticle scissors from the bed, “I think one of your earlobes is just a wee bit longer than the other. We should fix that …”

“No! No, please! You mean the scummy crap I did on your deal? The one where I was both the owner and the agent? You want me to confess all of the things I did?”

“Now you get it. Yes, I want to hear you say what you did and that it was wrong. I need to hear you say it!” She was coming unraveled, he could see it. The cool facade was gone and she was ready to snap. There would probably be blood soon. Or at least some seriously painful grooming.

“OK. OK. I … I abandoned the house. Four months after you signed the short sale contract and saw the house in pristine condition, I moved my family out and totally stopped maintaining the pool. Even though I had an agreement with HAFA that I would continue to live in and maintain the house and I knew you were getting an FHA loan, which would require the pool to be in working condition. I knew it would be a problem and I did it anyway and didn’t tell you. It was wrong.”

“That’s a start,” she said, trimming her cuticles absent-mindedly with her instrument of torture, “what else?”

He took a deep breath, wondering how much she herself knew. How much had they uncovered in the inspection report? How much had her agent told her about his misdeeds?

“Um… well I also took the stove and the dishwasher out and sold them. After we moved out. Not only was that a violation of my HAFA short sale agreement and a huge problem for your FHA loan, but it was in direct violation of the contract that we signed. You saw the house when we were there and it had nice appliances in it. The contract states that they are fixtures and remain with the property. But I wanted to make an extra few bucks. So I sold them.”

“You are such an ASS-HAT!” she screamed and grabbed the tweezers again. She furiously plucked individual hairs from all over his chest. The ones near his nipples hurt the worst. He began crying like a baby.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It was wrong and unethical and I’m sorry. I also knew about the leak under the master shower down into the dining room and I didn’t even try to find out what the problem was or get it fixed. In fact, we just put a bucket downstairs and continued using it for awhile. I should have disclosed that. I’m so sorry,” he blubbered.

She halted her tweezing madness and stood back.

“And you let us waste FIVE MONTHS of our lives hoping for this house to become an approved short sale. When it finally did you let us waste hundreds of dollars on inspections and appraisals just to find out that you’d screwed us out of any possibility it could actually work. You’re an agent. You should know better. What were you even thinking?”

“Well,” he sniffled, “I thought if you wanted the house enough you’d put your own money into fixing those things and buying new appliances before close of escrow. I’ve heard of that happening.”

“Oh my god, I hate you,” she seethed and reached back into her bag. She pulled out a home waxing kit and said, “You’ve confessed. Now you’ll receive your penance.”


Amanda opened her eyes and smacked a hand on top of her alarm clock. She brushed her short, dark hair out of her eyes and reached down to give her pregnant tummy a little rub. She was still glowing from the exhilaration of the dream. She would probably never get her revenge; but hey, a girl can dream, right?