I firmly believe no one is merely who they seem to be. The family who sent you a holiday card with the smiling girl and boy hugging under a rainbow in front of Niagara Falls probably hit a homeless man with their car and buried him in the wilderness right before they posed for that photo. The couple in the card who are clinking champagne glasses with a starry night back drop? Probably had a trial separation this year over his ‘close friendship’ with the FedEx man.
It goes the other way too, of course. That tatted out chick who hangs out in the parking lot near where you work probably started an online support group and charity to benefit those who’ve lost pet cats to Feline AIDS. I bet she’s the leading advocate for more research into the AIDS epidemic in cats, not just the girl who flips you off when you give her a dirty look for blowing smoke in your face when you walk by; is what I’m saying.
I showed property to a new set of clients this weekend. We’d spoken on the phone and exchanged emails, but Sunday was the first time we met in person. My first impression was that they had a little bit more of an alternative vibe than I had expected. He had a couple of arm tattoos and pierced ears and she had white blonde hair and a (small, tasteful) nose and lip piercing. They had a blonde 7 year old son with a missing front tooth. They were incredibly polite and personable. Their son was cute and better behaved than my kids would have been after being dragged through 7 houses.
As we toured the houses I learned:
- He likes to sky dive and was recently certified.
- They have an internet business.
- They have a 10 year old cat and a couple of ferrets.
- One of the ferrets is so old and deaf they thought he had died last week but it turned out he was just sleeping and scared the crap out of them when he jumped up while they were trying to decide what to do with his corpse.
- She likes arches. And art nooks. But she does not approve of floral wallpaper.
- He likes the idea of having double ovens so they can cook two things at once.
- He’s not afraid to pick up a big dead spider to see if it has a red hour glass on its belly (it did).
- They’d prefer a cul-de-sac lot so they can feel comfortable letting their son ride his bike outside.
Four or five houses in I felt comfortable enough with them to start in with my customary nosiness of their lives. I asked about the house they were moving from in Houston (they have three attics. We really just have crawlspace out here). I asked about their family (he has children from a previous marriage). I asked about their internet business.
Me: So what do you sell online?
Him: Well, it’s a funny story actually. She taught herself HTML so she could edit her own MySpace page back when MySpace was popular.
Me: Wow, that’s so interesting, I never would have guessed she’s the technical mind behind your business. So you do web design and construction?
Him: Uh, yeah, that’s some of what we do…
Me (When any normal person would have felt his hesitancy and let it drop): So what else do you do? (It’s a birth defect. I only understand the social cues that involve people not wanting to discuss things in retrospect. Scientists are working on a cure, but until they succeed I unintentionally make people uncomfortable on a daily basis.)
Her (from the other room): Oh, Honey, just be honest with her!
Right then is when I got it. The internet biz. The video camera she had glued to her hand filming the layout of the houses. Their need for fast and uninterrupted internet service. The hot tub they needed space in the backyard for.
I’d like to say I professionally and smoothly changed the subject and respected their privacy. Please, though. You know me better than that.
Me: Oh my god, you do porn, don’t you? You can tell me, I’m not uptight, I totally listen to Howard Stern. (Curse my birth defect.)
So yeah. My new clients have a successful business in the adult industry. And my favorite part about all of this? How totally normal and considerate they were.
I don’t know much about that side of life (except what I’ve learned from watching The Girls Next Door), but I think a lot of us main-streamers (that’s what they call us. Just kidding, I totally made that up) presume people who exist in that life are ‘bad’ people. They must do drugs and be mean and screwed up and live disgusting lives.
This family was so the opposite of that. They told me all about the new curtains they’d just had custom-made for their house in Houston they would be sad to leave behind. She described their pretty but contemporary bedroom decor to me and when I asked how he felt about it being such a ‘girlie’ room he said, ‘I don’t really care one way or the other and it makes her happy, so I’m happy.’ They told me about how they’d done some research online and Gilbert is ranked 35th nationally in low crime statistics and generally being a nice place to live. I’m sure they’re not perfect, but in general they seem to be a nice, normal family with a bit of an alternative lifestyle.
Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I’m a nosy voyeur. But man do I love people and how they constantly surprise me.