When my mother moved out of her condo recently, I volunteered to rent it for her.
“Don’t worry,” I said, “Leave everything to me. I have a LOT of experience with this sort of thing.”
And by experience I meant that I had watched all 13 seasons of “House Hunters” as well as “Property Virgins, “Property Ladder” and “Property Ladders Used By Virgins.”
Obviously, I was overqualified for the simple business of listing and renting a small condo.
Job one was to craft the perfect advertisement. My vast TV real estate background had taught me to use words like “cute” or “cozy” to describe the smallish rooms and closets. Likewise, old plumbing is best described as “vintage” or “quaint.” Which sounds way better than “iffy” and “disappointing.”
I placed the ad in the newspaper and on a few freebie websites and waited for the phone to vibrate.
And waited some more.
And then a little longer.
After three days, I finally started getting some calls. To my chagrin, none of the callers were anything like the adorable couples on “House Hunters.” I began to pine for the nitwit housewife who always whines about the lack of a double vanity as if that is the most important thing. (“Sure, it’s a great school district and it’s $100,000 below tax value but what’s with the single vanity?”)
The very first call set the bar pretty low.
After we discussed a few of the particulars, the caller said, “Tell the truth. How serious are you about that whole paying-the-rent-on-time thing? Oh, and can you waive the deposit? I promise I won’t get it dirty.”
The second call was from someone who wanted to know if “no pets” really applied to him because “Everybody loves MY dog.”
The third call came late in the evening and I had already had a glass of wine or three.
“Me and my girlfriend want to rent your place,” he said. “But before we go any further, what color are the walls?”
“Off-white,” I said.
“That doesn’t work for us,” he said. “We like bold colors. Would you mind painting the place? We love black.”
Another caller informed me that the price and location were great but she did “really like to PAR-TAY on the weekends,” and how did I think her new neighbors would feel about that?
Was everyone reading the ad a complete dingus?
Another caller told me he liked the place but didn’t “technically have any references” because of disputes with his previous landlords because they wanted the “full rent” “paid on time” “without having to beg for it.”
“You’re breaking up,” I said.
Another caller asked me to drop the price by 100 bucks because she had a car payment. I told her I had one, too. “Circle of life, Toots,” I said. She said “Who is Toots?”
Happily, I did finally find a great tenant. And I hope that he lives there for a very, very long time.
CELIA RIVENBARK’s new book, “Rude B****** Make Me Tired” will be out Oct. 22. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.