Real Estate According to Drew Carey

This is a little ditty about perception and reality, and about the manufacturer’s suggested retail price versus real, market value. I’ll call it, simply, “Real estate according to Drew Carey.”

First (and you knew it was coming), the backstory. The real estate part will make an appearance in about 800 words. Skim if you must.

It started here on Daughter #1’s eighteenth birthday, which we celebrated like all American families do. Much like the fiftieth anniversary is golden, turning eighteen, at our home at least, comes wrapped in a tacky sound stage from the ‘60s. It signals the time for a pilgrimage to meet the man.

Face time with Drew Carey only happens once in a lifetime or, strictly speaking (if you believe the folks from CBS Standards are Practices, which I do, because they use really scary legal words written in scary tiny font), once every ten years.  So when Daughter #2 reached the magic age, Mother of the Year (that would be moi) loaded up the prize mobile and headed for Television City.

Approximately 24 hours and $27,000 later, we arrived back home to share the big news with Steve. ‘’That’s great, he mumbled deadpan and quite unconvincingly. “By the way, did you order the Natural Hazard Disclosure Report or should I?” And that’s where the perception versus reality part comes in.

Mr. Buzz-kill happens to be a part of a familial unit that has a deep and rich history in game show tradition.  His reality is that we go, we win, we come home. It’s never been any other way. Had it not been for my own five-day stint on Password in the ‘80s, one that allowed me to pay off my student loans, buy a new car, and arrive at the altar debt-free, I would be single and childless today.  (And, believe me, there are days I curse Bert Convy, Patty Duke, and Gopher from “The Love Boat” for my little twist of fate, but I digress.)

The reality is that not everyone wins. Just our family. And our family is oh-so lucky, we are told. But, let me tell you about luck. Here is what luck involves.

1.     Book one very expensive hotel, because any hotel within forty miles of Mecca that charges by the night, rather than the hour, is expensive.

2.     Check in, have dinner, and spend the remainder of the night watching clips of past episodes on Mother of the Year’s laptop. Upon realizing that prices on the show bear no actual resemblance to real life, resort to the honor bar for pricing guidance on random items. (“The actual retail price of 2-ounce salted peanuts is $247!”)

3.     Put in order for 3:30 AM wake-up call (“AM” in Hollywood speak means “morning”). Check out of the hotel in the dark after janitor from graveyard shift prints room bill bearing eerie resemblance to price of salted peanuts and retrieves car from nearby valet lot (“nearby” in Hollywood speak meaning “South Dakota”).

4.     Navigate in the dark to designated contestant parking lot (in South Dakota), and walk aimlessly around the streets of Los Angeles until you locate your clan, a very large group of sleep depraved people wearing neon shirts blaring unique and clever messages along the lines of “Pick me – It’s my 18th birthday!”

5.     Now 4:45 AM, get comfy on your section of the sidewalk on Beverly Boulevard (your section being clearly identified as the one your hiney is planted on) and wait… and wait… and wait. Oh, at some point, they will mix it up and allow you to wait inside the studio gates where they actually have benches. And you will pass the time by strategizing. This involves identifying potential “competition,” the ones with rudimentary tool making skills and who can sort of walk upright (few) or the ones wearing “It’s my 18th birthday!” t-shirts (everyone), and mentally calculating your odds of actually being chosen to Come on Down (slim to none).

6.     Approximately ten hours later, working on four hours sleep and looking like one of the extras from Ice Road Truckers, get shuttled through an interview process. “So, Kris? What do you do,” the producer will ask. “Well, I…” “Thank you! Have a nice time! Next!”

So, it seems I’m no longer “selectable,” having run my race in my more formative days. My children, on the other hand, the ones who wouldn’t know the price of anything if they were knee-deep in the Dollar Store, seem to be more camera-worthy.

One Showcase Showdown later, thanks to a competing contestant who mistook a convertible Mini Cooper for a 2-ounce bag of salted peanuts and bid a little less to make sure she didn’t go over, Daughter #2 is now the proud owner of a whole bunch of stuff that she doesn’t need. As we anxiously await her very special 1099, my garage resembles an warehouse and I am now forced to take up golf and attach a trailer hitch to my Beetle. It you see me, honk. I will be the one dragging a Waverunner to my listing appointment. It seems that the 900 pound Gym in a Closet is way bigger than it looked in the picture, and the garage is spoken for.

I will be filing my next post from Craigslist. (Note: We are keeping the week in St. Lucia.)

Oh, and as for the real estate analogy, I don’t really have one. In retrospect, the backstory was the story. Except, maybe, that “suggested retail price” is what you list your home for… or want… or need. What I can off-load a year’s supply of organic food for on eBay is “market value,” and, in this market, rarely do the two bear any resemblance.

On second thought, I will add one more. “Easy” and “lucky” rarely are. A real estate transaction is “easy” until something goes wrong, and you can pretty much count on something going wrong. Denied loans, a request for repair list resembling the assembly instructions for the Hubble telescope, delays in funding, unexpected liens and encumbrances, four-figure termite estimates, late appraisals, low appraisals, parties failing to perform, notices to perform, disclosure surprises, non-disclosure surprises, buyers or sellers finding themselves “a little short” two hours before the loan is supposed to fund, changes of heart, changes of mind, breaches of contract, breaches of decency, deposit disputes… and that was just this week.

And, finally, finding the perfect buyer, finding the perfect home, and closing escrow on time without a hitch is “lucky,” except lucky involves a lot of preparation and a lot more hard work. Oh, and having a little experience doesn’t hurt either.

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