Humor by Jen Lancaster

My husband and I are buying our first home.

Sort of. We think.

To clarify, a very nice bank has agreed to loan us a couple of bucks. In return, we'll exchange said funds for a small plot of land containing at least four walls, some kind of finished flooring, segments of transparent glass through which we might see said yard, and a roof, preferably watertight. How hard can it be to find a home with these features, right?

As it turns out, every real estate show on television is a filthy lie in that the potential buyers wrap up their transaction with two phone calls in a half-hour segment. In HGTV-land, it seems like no one's selling short, no adorable, affordable, artfully landscaped Cape Cod comes sex-offender adjacent and no home inspection ever turns up drywall best described as "moist as a Duncan Hines devil's food cake."

Since February, we've made three offers and each deal has imploded. Our buying process has morphed into a high-stakes game of "Card Sharks" wherein all parties involved shout "Higher!" and "Lower!" willy-nilly and the potential sale inches along until someone draws a seven card, the action freezes, and we have to write our landlord yet another rent check.

So we continue to look . . . and our standards continue to drop. Suddenly those places full of flocked-velvet wallpaper and gold fixtures we saw last winter aren't quite so hilarious now. We find ourselves saying stuff like, "Hey, that mirrored Liberace bathroom wasn't so bad, right?" and "Perhaps having the commuter rail running through the backyard would be a huge convenience?" and "Maybe mauve paint is the new black."

The one non-negotiable item, at least, according to my husband, is having room to "properly grill." And this? This prospect is far more terrifying than a dozen property liens or standing basement water.

I'd speculate there's something primal within my husband urging him to "warm meat on flame" and I applaud this desire. Yet I offer the caveat that "instinct" is no substitution for "instruction." Contrary to popular belief, the ability to operate a 500-pound Ducane gas grill is not innate. Also, he probably should have removed the highly combustible paper manual before igniting all six burners.

Before we got the gas grill, we had a small charcoal Weber that I turned into a decorative planter after my husband set his shorts on fire. Twice. We agreed the Ducane would be inherently safer as the flame height could be controlled. I thought cooking with gas would mean the end of hamburger hockey pucks, chicken leather and filet of Welcome mat.

Instead, my husband learned to abuse dinner in entirely new ways. He crowed about the spit-roasting feature that would allow us to stop buying four-dollar, pre-cooked chickens at Costco like a bunch of suckers. The first night he broke out the rotisserie, he spent three hours and 22 dollars slow roasting a chicken . . . stuffed with a melted plastic bag full of gizzards.

His most recent achievement is raising the grill temperature up to 700 degrees. I'm not sure why this important, unless his goal is to blow through an entire tank of propane in one sitting and incinerate our strip steaks in a much more expedient fashion. In which case, mission accomplished.

I guess the one bright spot in my husband's outdoor cookery means he's not inside ruining all my fancy copper saucepans.

Now if we could just close the deal on the right home, my husband could build the barbecue station of his dreams. With proper grilling facilities, he could get gas temperatures into the thousands and tend charcoal fires to the point where flames licked the roofline.

On second thought, maybe buying a damp house isn't such a bad idea.

Humor & Satire

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