One of the homes we viewed happened to have a similar floor plan to the home I had grown up in--this one was flipped around so that the bedrooms faced the street whereas ours had the bedrooms facing the back yard. I was keen to see how the place looked IRL (in real life), as the kids say. Pictures never give a true impression, it would seem, of what sort of shape a house is in. This house, sadly, had not been well kept up. It sort of reminded me of what our family home might have looked like had there been grubby upgrades done to it in the past 40 years and had there been absolutely no care taken in maintaining the wood flooring. A wall of mildew-stench hit us in the face when we first walked in, so that in and of itself was alarming, nevermind how shit the place looked.
Two estate agents, a hubby and wife team, greeted us at the door. They handed us some literature about the house before leaving us to explore. At some point, the husband came to find us to ask if we had any questions and to see if were familiar with the area. I told him that I was from the area. The wife piped up with me a 'me, too!' in the background. As it turned out, she and I attended high school together. Her face didn't strike me as familiar, so I asked her her name. 'Laurel', she said. We shook hands and I said the only person I knew by that name was Laurel Zimmerman. Laurel the listing agent then made a face and proceeded to tell me how the other Laurel had been mean to her, that she had been, in fact, scared of her, and that the other Laurel had taken the boy she fancied to the prom. All I could say was, 'Oh, that's too bad. Laurel was one of my best friends'.
My Laurel was, indeed, a brawler. Standing at 5'2" and with the face of a sweetheart, one could never know that a cross-eyed look would send her into a rage. She may have even slammed a girl's head into a locker at school, I can't really remember now. What I do remember is that during an argument, she threw a full Bud tall (an extra large can of Budweiser) at my head. Fortunately, she missed, but the wall behind me wasn't so lucky.
Laurel and I were arrested for shoplifting at the local mall when we were 15. She, short & preppy-looking, and me, tall and wearing heavy, black eye-liner & kitted out in a rock jersey & tight jeans (the quasi uniform of stoner kids across America at the time), were taken to a room behind the retail area of the store to be questioned. What struck me immediately was how favorably Laurel was being treated by the adults. It didn't hurt that she produced a few tears as well for them. They (incorrectly) assumed that not only was I the ring-leader, but that I had inticed Laurel into stealing from their store that day. Actually, the whole thing had been her idea. She sort of introduced me to the art of shoplifting, if you will. The biggest lesson I learned from that experience, besides figuring out the hard way that you can't pull off stealing from a store after you've consumed three bottles of Mickey's big mouth, was that adults can be easily duped and place just as much importance on outward appearance as any child could. After being questioned and being made to give up the loot, we were sent to juvenile hall to be processed. Eventually, I was allowed to go home. -awful car ride with my dad fuming in the driver's seat all the way home. Laurel, on the other hand, had to stay the weekend at 'juvie' because she had 'priors'. (I think the locker head slamming incident was one of them.)
|Cell at Hillcrest Juvenile Hall|
Of course, what I know now is that my Laurel had 'acted out' because of a difficult childhood laced with adults behaving badly & an absentee mother. Back then, she just seemed like the kid you didn't want to fuck with, but you didn't think to ask or find out why.
Realtor Laurel went on to say that she had raised her own children to not only not be bullies, but to stick up for other kids who were being bullied. She told me that her children would often come home from school upset because a classmate was being treated unfairly. She mentioned that her son, in particular, would sit and eat lunch with a child who seemingly had no other children to sit with. I found that very moving.
After all the high school and child-rearing talk, I asked Laurel what the deal was with the smell in the house. She told me that the elderly woman who'd lived in the place was a 'chain-smoker' who owned a dog. So, the smell in the house, she said, was likely due to that. Ummmm, no. It was damp as the day is long, people. I don't really see the point of lying about it when it's all going to come out in the disclosure package. And doesn't everyone, especially those in the house-selling biz, know exactly what mold and mildew smell like? Well, it's not like we were keen to buy the old place anyway. We thanked them both for their time and left for the next open house. I have to say, aside from the wee fib, this Laurel seemed to have turned out all right.