Saturday, January 10, 2009
Rainbow Ceiling Fan, Dirty Mag In The Bathroom...House Hunting With Connie Nompelis
Photos By John Hoff
A few days ago, real estate agent Connie Nompelis was doing a little house-hunting in Hawthorne, and I came along. The house...
...was kicky and historical, the way Connie likes 'em, but people had been living there who were tragically afflicted with both bad taste and colorblindness. But stuff like the rainbow-colored ceiling fan, the wallpaper with little footballs, that was just the top layer. The antique house was still there, underneath those layers, historical and mostly intact.
It would, I thought, take a ton of money and work to restore that house. I told Connie if she made an offer, she should first check to see how much change she had in her ashtray. That's what I would offer, I said, for that house...just judging from the outside. One of the pillars holding up the front porch was MISSING. How did the porch roof miraculously hover like that, I wondered?
The boards on the house were secured with "public screws" and I noticed whoever put the boards on used about twice as many screws as usual. The workman must have been sick of replacing boards, over and over, or he needed to squeeze out a bit more labor on the clock.
A guy showed up to take the board off the front door and it was--oh, good grief, I cringed and went lower in the front seat of Connie's pickup truck with the cracked windshield, while she sat on the driver's side, smoking Camels. My image of her...so totally blown that day.
"What?" Connie asked.
"I know that guy," I said.
"Yeah, I thought I recognized him from your blog," she laughed.
Yes, indeed, it was the rough-and-tumble dude from the suspicious "winterizing" crew, which I blogged about, click for post.
"I'm going to pretend I don't know him," I told Connie. "Maybe he won't recognize me."
Protecting The Innocent By Swiping Porno
Connie said the doorknobs in the house were "to die for." I snapped a picture of "the ghost of radiator past." Maybe I could put together a whole series of photos like that, have a little art show, get Bryan Thao Worra to read a poem.
A group of Hmong would-be buyers toured the house with us. One seemed to be a real estate agent, and he was very upbeat about the house. I had the sense the buyers didn't share his enthusiasm, judging from their facial expressions.
Upstairs, three or four little children were dashing around checking out what might be their new home--they seemed to enthusiastically think--apparently unable to read their parents' facial expressions. I went into the bathroom to see if there was a claw foot tub. Laying in the open medicine cabinet, in plain view, was a raggedly porno magazine.
I quickly stuffed it inside my jacket, and as I left the bathroom, three little Hmong children went bounding inside.
Later, I told Connie, "There was a stroke mag in the lavatory. I swiped it before the little children found it."
"What's a 'stroke mag'?" Connie asked.
(Click here for an eerily similar "Innocent Connie" saga)
I later recycled the magazine. It was English in origin and, like English hard candy, English humor, and English dental hygiene, it didn't quite meet my American tastes...to put it oh-so-politely. (A shame to see crack cocaine has "hopped across the pond" and addicted young women already downtrodden by their horse-like overbites)
On the way out, the guy who unscrewed the door said, "Hey, don't I know you?"
"Unfortunately," I answered. "I think we first met under some unhappy circumstances. Like I said, we really watch the houses around here."
I was with Connie, and I suspected he probably took her to be my wife or girlfriend...which, since it was Connie, after all, must have dramatically increased my social standing in his eyes.
"Oh," he said, meek and mild. "That's OK. You gotta look out for your neighborhood." (Or some words to that effect)
I figured his earlier fuming about "getting paid" for the police incident didn't go anywhere, and somebody had set him right. I also thought he might have lost a little weight. Well, good for him. We all have to get along, if we're going to keep running into each other.
Connie Takes The Plunge
Connie scraped the bottom of her ashtray and made an offer on the house. In an email, she compared it to a "doe-eyed Honduran orphan" and said nothing better stand in the way of her "adopting" the unfortunate house. She said on her blog she was scared her offer would be accepted, and scared it wouldn't be.
The Hawthorne Neighborhood is hopeful that Connie Nompelis--real estate agent extraordinaire, housing preservation buff, blogger--will be joining our community.