Clearly, Every Applicant Underwent a Criminal Background Check


Imagine you are a renter, entering our house this Sunday on Move-In Day, acquiver over the fact that you get to live for the next year in a house with stainless steel in the kitchen, a playset for the kids out back, and a jacuzzi tub upstairs.

You might not even care that you’re paying $400 more per month than the actual mortgage. You might think the dimmer switch in the tv room renders that cost an out-and-out bargain.

Still and yet, you’d have no idea of the deal you’re getting. Although the owners of the house are out larking around Asia Minor, chomping on kebaps and pistachios, you are clearly the winner in this transaction.

Sure, that travelin’ family is getting raw experience in haggling over kilim prices at the bazaar, squatting occasionally over a good old-fashioned Turkish toilet, and listening to the home-schooled kids whine that their teachers yell too much,

but one quick trip down the stairs assures you, Dear Renter, that all the best adventure is found in the unfinished, moist basements of the American Midwest.

Do it. Walk down the stairs. Don’t rush the descent; there’s some lovely wood paneling demanding that you run your fingers over its knotty texture.

At the bottom, take a moment to glance to your right, to the rectangular space where Travelin’ Family has stored most of its household goods–save the couch and futon they gave away, the bunkbeds they loaned out, and the tin of octopus (thanks, Mom!) they tossed into the trash–and stifle your shriek of marvel at how much beer-guzzling it must have taken to pack and haul all that junk to the basement in the height of summer mugginess.

Then head left, Young Renter, towards the laundry area. At first glance, it doesn’t register that the area is freshly cleaned. The initial appearance smacks only of concrete, drainage, and pipes. You consider the gold medal run Shaun White could put down between the washer and stairs, were the place coated in snow.

Once the first impression of “crappy industrial” recedes, though, a quick sniff test turns up a mixture of Shout, Murphy’s Oil Soap, and Redhead Sweat. Yes. Yes. Scrubbing has happened here. That healthy rent is seeming more and more worth the extra hours you’ll put in measuring flooring and mollifying customer complaints about splinters there in your job at the home supply store.

But, Renter, oh, Renter. The true treasure of The Rental still eludes you. Carry on.

Not there yet.  You’re still too far off.  At this distance, you hardly can make out the dehumidifier (recently wiped down!) in the corner.  Keep shuffling.

Not that the basement ever took on water, but, um, if it did, the Clever Renter might be able to trace its trajectory.

Yes.  Now you’re closing in on it.  No, I don’t mean that source of natural light on the right, that thing called “window”–discovered only today by a sweating redhead when she cleared off the cobwebs and pulled down the rags (curtains!!) framing the glass.  Nae.  Look left, Dear Bank Account Filler.  There is a different piece of glass, also recently Windexed.

What ho, Cher Renter!  See those strange things running along the bottom of that sparkling glass?

More importantly, what unearthly apparition in a blue tank top has appeared in Glass, with one breast oddly cradled inside a camera strap holster?  Is an exorcism on the agenda?  Or a trip to Victoria’s Secret?

Ahhh.  Wait.  Who can ponder ghostly breasts when–whoooooeeeeee!–the line of objects is coming into focus.

Could it be…

…that someone is greeting you, the newcomer, with a hearty “Welcome Back”?

…that any amount of rent is worth it, if it means living in a house that features “Mr. Kotttttt-air” above the laundry sink?

Who knew snappy one liners were built into the lease?
Who knew Vinnie Barbarino would be the basement-dwelling bonus…the silver lining of agreeing to handle snow removal in a city that averages more than 80″ per year?

Who knew, dear Renter, that simply by moving in,

by acknowleding that your dreams were your ticket out,

you’d become an honorary member of a lifelong club?

Admit it, Horshack:  the first time you walked through this house with the rental agent, you could not have envisioned the day when you would reach down into the laundry sink, grab the tube extending from the faucet–so useful for cleaning paintbrushes and muddy running shoes--and initiate your spouse into the new abode by quipping:

“Up your nose with a rubber hose, honey.”








23 responses to “Clearly, Every Applicant Underwent a Criminal Background Check”

  1. monica Avatar

    "squatting occasionally over a good old-fashioned Turkish toilet".. haha – you can hardly wait, can you?? now I don't know about Turkey, never bin there, but on Crete we were too… ahem, put the used toiletpaper in a bin next to the toilet, instead of flushing … due to narrow piping or such.. uh, the odeur of those lovely ( freaking) hot days… :o)

    and when your asian adventure is all inhaled, you will have your lovely home to return to, and it will be SUCH a treat !( the renters are for sure not the house wrecking kind of people…)

  2. geewits Avatar

    This Sunday? Did you say "..this Sunday?" What? Really? This Sunday? Oh my! I'm not sure I'm ready yet.

  3. Deborah Avatar

    Oh my god, the places your mind goes. You don't need to go to Turkey, Jocelyn. You're already somewhere out there in the solar system riccocheting off as-yet-undiscovered planets and transmitting your crazy data back in microbursts twice the speed of sound.

    I wish, wish, wish you lived next door to me. You thought I didn't mean that when I said it months ago, did you? But maybe now you realize how great I think that would be.

    Mr. Kotttt-air, indeed. How I laughed my ass off!!!

  4. unmitigated me Avatar
    unmitigated me

    Deborah is stepping all over my blog crush. I just know your heart belongs to me. *sigh*

  5. ds Avatar

    This Sunday??? Already??? Geeze, Ms. Jocelyn (emitting Horshack's nasal whine)I didn't know you meant this Sunday…
    🙁 for me 😀 for you.
    Poor renters, they have no idea.

  6. Jeni Avatar

    Ah, the earth-shattering, life changing times that are coming about this weekend -for you, as well as for me too!
    Friday is my day (July 30th) to meet up with the man with a scalpel at McGee Hospital in Pittsburgh and by Sunday, when you depart for the far-away land of Turkey, I'll be enjoying what hopefully will be some good drugs! I will be in that kind of la-la land while you will embark on a journey into your own year-long la-la land. As entertaining as your posts from the great northland known as Minnesota are, the snows, the cold and such, I'm quite sure you'll find loads and loads of new things to tell us about and all with that brand of humor that accompanies you, wherever you may be. Travel safely and keeps us updated about your fun.

  7. Pearl Avatar

    Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!

    Sorry. Horschack impersonation.

    And $400 over the mortgage?! This landlord has got to get to Duluth!!


  8. Jazz Avatar



  9. lime Avatar

    that's a perk no rental advert could possibly contain. it's more serendipitous than when e bought our current place and THEN discovered it had central AC….ok, i am employing hyperbole and perhaps irony but i just wanted to affirm you.

  10. Jocelyn Avatar

    Small clarification:

    We leave Duluth Saturday and head down to my in-laws' for three nights; the renters move in Sunday, August 1st. We fly out Tuesday, August 3rd.

  11. Midlife Jobhunter Avatar
    Midlife Jobhunter

    Vinnie Barbarino. What a great name that was.

    Must be getting to the nitty gritty now. Hope you won't be too exhausted by the time you leave. Exciting!

  12. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar
    Jenn @ Juggling Life

    Have you been saving those all these years for just this occasion?! What a great landlord you are.

    I am so happy you are going to let us follow your adventure.

  13. Green Girl in Wisconsin Avatar
    Green Girl in Wisconsin

    Oh that is a wonderful treasure you've left behind for them. And the easel/whiteboard? Taking it with your or left behind for their enjoyment?
    You know we'll have to sing "Welcome Back" when you return from your exodus.

  14. Becky Cazares Avatar
    Becky Cazares

    Ya, I remember Turkish toilets from those tiny towns in France when you ask for a "public" restroom. Never thought until just this minute that you're going to the place where they were INVENTED! Yikes!

    Anyway, since I practically grew up on Welcome Back Kotter (okay, I was almost 19 when it debuted), I offer this memory to the collection:

    Epstein: Hey, look, we can't stay long, we got a cab waiting downstairs.
    Kotter: You took a cab?
    Epstein: We're gonna give it back.
    Kotter: You stole a cab?
    Vinnie: No, no, no, no. It's Horshack's father's cab. You can't steal a guy's father's cab. You can't.
    Horshack: Then why'd we tie him up, Vinnie?

  15. alwaysinthebackrow Avatar

    My evaluation of this blog entry: Very Funny! But the combination of weariness, sadness and excitement that must be flowing through your family right now also shows. It's going to happen! Soon!
    I can't wait to hear from you in Turkey.
    You kmow what would be totally awesome? If your renters could also blog about their experiences in your house over the next year!

  16. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    Are those there to say Welcome Back, when you return? (snort)

    Can't believe you're almost out of here, but also looking forward ot some Turkish posts.

  17. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    I'm having withdrawal symptoms already because how do I know you'll be able to post from Turkey?

    Have a safe trip and a wonderful adventure! Your renters have invited me and 6 or 7 thousand of their closest friends to a beer bash at your house, so don't worry about a thing.

  18. Jocelyn Avatar

    Oh, I'm posting from Turkey, Susan. Come hell or high Ramadan.

  19. Pam Avatar

    It will all be very exciting to read about Turkey from a Jocelyn perspective. All very exciting even if you do have to squat over a good old-fashioned Turkish toilet. Here you occasionally get the Australian Bush Longdrop outhouses or "dunnies" in the more remote areas obviously.Makes a person appreciate the plumbing back home. The next few days should go quickly for you – can't wait to hear more!

  20. Patois Avatar

    I hope those are there to welcome you back upon your return.

    And does your breast always need that added support?

  21. Logophile Avatar

    That's it. I must relocate to MN and rent your house.

  22. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    Just to let you know, I had to change URL's. This avatar links ot the new site.

  23. Steve Avatar

    Even in Turkey, it's always the right time for Kotter and Co.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *