It was raining hard as they climbed out of the car parked adjacent to the “Home for Sale” sign. As we hurried to the front door, it was the man who first caught my eye. Tall and gaunt, his head hairless except for a short beard covering the tip of his chin, he was wearing a green Goretex jacket and black boots with heavy wool socks extending over the tops. I knew this because he was also wearing one of those mustard colored denim kilts that certain males in especially progressive regions have taken to, ostensibly for “the comfort”, but in reality as we all know to trumpet their cultural superiority in the abandonment of what most might consider “men’s clothes” and the wearing of something more…gender neutral. The unblinking gaze behind round frameless glasses as he approached to shake my hand mildly suggested a religious cultist of some sort. His humorless visage reflecting a mind not predisposed to seeing the lighter side of life. “My name is Hubert” he offered grimly, along with a limp handshake that might best be described as giving an air of benign defenselessness. His partner, his word, a woman of indistinguishable age with skin so translucently white that when she blinked, her pale blue eyes were still visible behind closed eyelids and seemed to follow you around like those creepy Jesus pictures that grandmothers used to hang on parlor walls, shook my hand without offering her name and we entered the prim little craftsman bungalow.
As any of you who have been around a real estate agent in a working environment are aware, the next ten minutes were devoted to that intricate dance between salesperson and potential client known as “The Asking of Qualifying Questions”, and in my attempt to disguise these inquiries of a rather personal nature as simply small talk. I have often wondered why salespeople must perform this ritual of misdirection while other actors in a real estate transaction, such as lenders, are allowed to be much more direct in determining a potential clients ability to pay for that which they desire. If I was to meet a potential client right out of the gate with “How much money do you make?…Can you prove that?…How about a bank statement or a paycheck stub or something?”, they would probably add a new real estate agent to their list of requirements regarding the search for a new home. Perfectly acceptable coming from a banker however. Anyway…nobody said life was fair. Where was I.
During the course of our little dance, he let slip that while he had attended an Ivy League university and had served as a Fulbright Scholar in Finland a number of years ago, his current occupation was as a self-described “house husband” and volunteer librarian. Masking my professional disappointment at the income potential such an occupation might provide, I shifted gears smoothly to the personal and asked how many children were under his charge in the very respectable role of running a household. He casually answered that he and his partner had eschewed the option of parenthood in the interests of focusing all their attention on furthering her career as a physician. My respect for his interpretation of running a household slipped a notch or two. This seemed not just a gross under utilization of what was most likely a very expensive education, but a case of the “job” he eventually settled into lacking any actual duties to speak of. Nice work if you can find it I guess. Other than a little cooking and cleaning, a home without kids to supervise pretty much runs itself in my experience. No matter. Since “house husband and part-time volunteer librarian” is not on the list of preferred occupations when a banker is hovering between yes and no on a home loan application, I turned my qualifying attentions to his partner, who as luck would have it was wearing pants, and had in her possession a pre-qualification letter from the bank.
As we strolled from room to room, commenting on the hundred year old fir floors and marveling at the craftsmanship inherent in the oak built-ins of the stately old home, we came upon a flat rung wooden ladder that provided access to a loft area above. Leading the way I climbed up and extended a hand to my would be home buyers. After exploring the loft we descended, myself again leading the way. Arriving at the base of the ladder, I steadied it while the doctor climbed down and together we waited for her partner. A small table lamp standing in the corner on an oak bookshelf near the ladder provided a soft glowing light that shone upwards and bathed the egress point of the loft in a rich hue as it reflected off of the polished wood. Swinging his leg out and over the edge, he settled himself on the uppermost rung, feet safely shoulder width apart, and started his descent It was then that for some reason I looked up.
There has been much debate through the ages as to whether or not a proper kilt wearing man should wear an additional layer of cover over that which is hidden, or if to cover is defeating the entire premise of a kilt in the first place. As women are well aware, we men can be unduly proud of our…units, supremely confident in the knowledge that the one we have is the best ever, and in general prefer that they and their two companions be as unconstrained as possible in their day to day activities. I think I can state without fear of contradiction however that though we are proud, when looked at objectively the male member is most certainly a strange looking little appendage. An afterthought. A clumsy last minute change order. When looked at from the vantage point I now unfortunately found myself in, a vantage point similar to that used when looking up your chimney in search of excessive suet deposits, it far exceeded strange and fell under the category of things that once seen, cannot be un-seen.
We exchanged contact information while I locked up the house, and we agreed to reconnect once they made the move out here in the fall. We went our separate ways with the doctor and the house husband dreaming of starting anew in an unfamiliar place far from home, and myself wondering how I was to erase the stain of this particular showing from my memory. I flipped on the car radio and an old Jimmy Buffett song was playing. I adjusted the seat back a bit and thought of summertime. Of scantily clad women and strong cocktails. My text message alert went off and it was another client interested in seeing a home for sale. There would be another showing tomorrow.
Cross posted at Jaded Haven.