apropos of home

Fiction, 12/29/08

“Family’s home houses pack-rat, much else”
The Kenmore Chronicler
Monday, February 13

A local family’s plea for a home makeover was recently answered by ABC executives, who in November summarily deemed their house an arrant fixer-upper. Last week, the network’s crews planned to make the family’s domestic dreams come true—that is, until Mom swiftly booted them out.

In a bizarre turn of events, the cast and crew of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” were invited by a family to renovate their home last Tuesday, only to be shooed away by the sole woman of the household before any real work could be done.

“It was truly baffling,” said producer Gregory Feik. “I mean, here we are providing labor and covering all the expenses, filming them and all that, and this lady can’t bear to see anything go.”

ABC producers first visited the house more than three months ago, after selecting it from thousands of applicants for the network’s “Extreme Makeover” renovation show. What they saw appalled them: garbage and food strewn about, cockroaches by the hundreds, rooms literally filled with useless knickknacks and clearance-sale surplus. There was no running water; the family melted snow in buckets near their gas fireplace to flush toilets and take infrequent, labor-intensive baths with. The entire house was redolent of cat urine.

“We saw lots of orangey-brown clumps, sometimes streaked with white, lying all over the house,” Feik said. “It was only upon closer inspection that we realized they were piles of cat barf, some with half a hairball embedded inside.”

Returning early last week to begin filming, the crew encountered similar, if not slightly worse, conditions. They drafted a plan of attack and began organizing their equipment. Two producers walked the family through the house, briefly explaining what they hoped to accomplish. The producers mentioned donating many of the gimcracks and gewgaws to nearby charities. At this point, the mother lost it.

“She started screaming, ‘You can’t give this stuff away! This is my stuff!’” said another producer, who chose not to be named. “We tried to tell her that we’d probably just move all of it into storage for the renovation, but she wouldn’t even let us touch anything.”

The mother, a diminutive woman less than five feet tall, suddenly loomed much larger as her temper flared, according to eyewitnesses. She ordered everyone out of the house while her family stood by helplessly.

“We’re trying to reason with her, but she’s jumping up and down, maybe two inches off the ground, yelling, ‘Get out!’” Feik said.

The bewildered crew was led from the house by the father and four sons, who appeared equally dumbstruck by the outburst.

“Mom seemed so eager about this [the renovation] when we first found out,” said the oldest son, who prefers to be called “Rutabaga”. “She reneged, and now we’re still stuck with a crappy house.”

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