Bathrooms, Brothels & Blimps

My first Broken Filter experience was years ago, when Athol and I were showing an elderly couple homes. We’d sold their life-long business and at last, they were able to upgrade to a fancy pad.

The wife was quivering with excitement but the husband? Well, he was old and ornery and entirely devoid of “must have’s” or a wish list, he simply wanted to find a place to hang his hat, and quickly.

The very first house we showed them was a lovely open plan where privacy’s only promised behind bedroom doors. Modern living makes eavesdropping a lost art – now you simply cock your head in the direction of the conversation and Viola! You’re in the know.

Unfortunately, the sellers were home. Always a bad idea no matter how you shake it.

I gave the necessary pleasantries to the very present homeowners who were clearly not budging to give us any freedom, as Athol shuttled the buyers deep into the house. Best to put distance between the two parties since, in the course of selling their business, we’d learned this elderly fellow seriously lacked decorum. We couldn’t risk pissing off the sellers lest these buyers fell in love with their home.

Just as the owners and I moved into the lovely open space, I heard the old chap bellow as loud as if he were attached to my left elbow: “WHERE’S THE CRAPPER?”

My nervous instinct kicked in an attempt to cover his still-vibrating boom and I heard loud, air-plucked compliments on their fine taste, spewing from my lips.

If I vaguely succeeded in camouflaging his coarse outburst, nothing could be done about the old buyer’s second, louder blast:

“Where’s the damn CRAPPER?  I need to TEST THE PLUMBING right NOW!”

I somehow levitated from the living area to the master bedroom doorway to reinforce the existing human shield (my husband) in case more verbal bullets were fired. Usually immune to embarrassment, my honey sported a rare shade of color on his rugged cheeks.

Too afraid to leave the old guy to his own devices, we watched the wife merrily continue her solo exploration of the home while the sellers stood rooted in the open kitchen, still shocked into freeze mode.

As obscene - but mercifully toned down - noises emitted through the cracks under and over the closed master bathroom door, the wife’s shrill voice pierced the silence from the opposite side of the house:  “Second bathroom’s hidden back here too. This house’s kaput. When Crappers are hard to find, Ray’s outta there!”

Not surprisingly, the sellers refused the buyer’s extended hand (we all knew where that had been) as Athol and I attempted herded them like stubborn, wayward sheep as far away from the house as possible. We couldn’t have gone back there if our lives depended on it!

*******

My Second Broken Filter experience was my own. As a Realtor, closings are a joyful time. NO! Not just because we get paid (though that’s rather essential), but if we’ve done our job well and all parties are satisfied with the outcome at transaction’s end, then a closing is where we Realtors get the warm and fuzzy far exceeding financial reward we strive for.

So, no separate closing rooms for buyers and sellers for me! No Way! I insist on a fiesta with all parties present.

We were finally signing papers on a complex piece of property after eighteen months. Humility, good faith and determination on the principals’ part had made it happen. Since I represented all parties, I knew all the players well. However, until we sat down at the closing table, buyers and sellers had not met, so my fiesta was more sophisticated cocktail party sans cocktails, than fiesta.

On the walls of the closing room were pictures of our town of Melbourne dating back to the 1900s.

My seller, a supremely graceful, gracious Southern Belle of impeccable breeding, was third generation born and raised in Melbourne Beach. A rarity in transient Florida where natives are rare as perfect seahorses washed up after spring high tide.  

My eloquent belle described each landmark with authority and intimate knowledge. We all listened, like impressionable children around a campfire.

It the midst of all this awe and class and politesse, my own filter collapsed.

As dignity wafted around the room, I heard my own voice spout: “When I had dinner at the old Strawberry Mansion I was convinced it was once a brothel. Was I right?”

The pause was as pregnant as Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair.

“I certainly hope not!” shouted my once soft-spoken-seller. “It was my husband’s father’s dying wish and my husband’s own, that we he have their memorials at The Strawberry Mansion!”

It’s not often I am lost for words.

*******

My third BF and most shocking experience came home to roost.

I’d been interviewed by a web show discussing the journey of “War Serenade”. It was my first recorded interview and I was both excited and apprehensive about the end result.

It finally arrived in my inbox. What a horrendous moving-thing it turned out to be. No fault of the interviewer – he was fantastic, as was the videographer and the crisp audio. No. It was only the guest who was beyond awful.

As I watched myself, I scrunched down in my office chair, the collar of my sweater pulled up to cover all but my eyes as if hiding from the horror would make it less so.

My voice! My diction! My father would have burned my elocution honors. My nose was too big; my chin too jutting, my face? Oh my! It was a gnarly-hair short of distorted. Lordy, Lordy. And let’s not talk about my body. OK. OK. Let’s do so you fully understand.

I looked like a zebra – which incidentally was exactly the look I was going for in my new wrap-over “slimming” blouse. But it wasn’t that sleek, interesting species of African equids I resembled, but rather a blimp in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

There I was, hogging most of my computer screen, the hosta relative acorn next to my partially disfigured, bloated zebra self-taking up three-quarters of the camera angle.

I have seldom been so mortified by my looks and believe me, its taken decades to be moderately accepting of my many physical flaws.

Hearing my whimpers, Athol charged to my rescue and quietly stood behind me to watch the horror show. I pulled the cowl all the way up to the top of my head and imagined I looked like a royal-blue inverted balloon as my blimp-face, in its cocoon flamed with a mix of acute embarrassment and menopausal heat.

When the longest-freakin’-video-promo-in-the-history-of-the-world ended, though I could hear Athol asking me to come out, I refused to pull my cowl-neck down.

But a girl can’t survive without oxygen and with a solid tug, my glowing, wet head burst through the cowl like a victorious new-born.

The beloved voice with its calming cadence and deep timber belonging to the man who loves me - warts and all - said: “This is a good marketing piece.”

I felt a rush of hope that I’d been “too hard on myself”.

“I’m hideous, just like Kramer” I lamented. Who could ever be more horrified by his own ugliness than Kramer? Yes! I admit I was in part fishing for my compliment I was grateful would follow.

“Don’t be silly,” my beloved started…how lucky was I?

But his blooming Filter broke…nay…shattered before me and he finished: “It’s not a beauty contest!”

So there I was, as hideous as Kramer, looking exactly like the Macy’s Zebra Blimp dotting the sky at Thanksgiving.  It was a rare day that I HATED being right!

*******

And so, my young Untamed Friends, I say to you, BEWARE of the Broken Filter.

Remember how, as a new adult, only when you drank too much did you tell the truth? Remember how mortified you were the Morning After?

Well, you have this to look forward to:  When you’re older and you’re sober and when you least expect it, your bloody filter will smash and you can’t even blame the booze for verbalizing the untarnished truth! Now THAT’S mortifying! AND immediate!

But don’t despair. I’m researching and developing a pause button to place between brain and lips to get me through my remaining years, unscathed by (shameful) truthful outbursts.

I’ll market the button as soon as it’s perfected. I promise you’re going to need it, so watch this space!