A Moving Experience

TO WIT

February 28, 1993|By DAVE BARRY

Recently I stood in the kitchen of our new home, amid hundreds of cardboard boxes, all helpfully labeled "Beth," and watched my wife, Beth, open a box. She cut through several layers of tape, opened the box flaps and pulled out an object that had been laboriously wadded up inside roughly 2,000 square feet of white paper. She unwrapped it, layer by layer, until finally she got to the object that had been so carefully protected: a coffee mug.

With coffee still in it.

If you're wondering why we packed a mug with coffee in it, the answer is, we are not that stupid. We are much stupider than that. What we did was pay somebody to do this.

I am of course referring to moving professionals. They're all trained at a special school. Here's a sample question from the final exam:

You are packing up a customer's possessions, and you find a human body with multiple stab wounds. You should:

a. Call an ambulance.

b. Notify the police.

c. Wad it up in white paper and stuff it in a box.

The correct answer is "c." Professional movers wad everything in white paper. If, in 1990, George Bush had sent in professional movers to resolve the Kuwait problem, today the entire Iraqi military force, tanks and all, would be individually wadded up inside several million cardboard boxes strewn all over the desert, each box labeled with only the word "Iraq." (Or possibly "Beth.") It would take Saddam Hussein decades to unpack his army. ("Let's see what's in this box . . . More corporals! Where the heck did they put the enlisted men?")

That's pretty much our situation. We're in a new, extremely box-intensive house. We moved because our old house got whomped by Hurricane Andrew. We thought about fixing it up, but then we got some estimates from contractors:

Contractor: OK, you see this?

Us: What?

Contractor: Where the tree landed on this truss.

Us: Houses have trusses?

Contractor (to his assistant): Go back to the truck and fetch me some more zeros for this estimate.

It turned out that our old house needed major work. To get it back to its original condition, we would have had to go through a three-step process:

Step 1: We move out.

Step 2: We move into temporary lodgings.

Step 3: We die there of old age.

The reason for Step 3, of course, is that major home renovations are never completed within your personal lifetime. Major renovations are something you do for posterity.

So we decided to sell our house in what is legally known as "whomped condition." The buyer, who is named Frank, was not troubled by this at all. He is totally unafraid of major home renovations. He strides confidently around and says things like, "I'm gonna move the kitchen here, put another bathroom here, put an escalator there; then I'm gonna move the entire house next door for a few days while I dig a new basement, and then I'm gonna . . . "

We admire Frank's zeal, and we plan to say so at his funeral.

Meanwhile, we're adapting to our new house. We've never had a brand-new house before, where everything works and the walls and floors are spotless and there is no lingering odor coming from behind the cabinets where apparently a mouse has died. (Don't worry, Frank! After a while you get used to it!) And so when we entered our new house for the first time as the owners, we felt a sense of euphoria that lasted for a full 10 seconds, which is how long it took for our small auxiliary backup dog, Zippy, to locate a white carpet and poop on it. I am not making this up. I believe the sound of the door closing was still echoing through the empty house when Zippy let loose. I don't hold this against him.

Of course we plan to do much more with our new home. We're going to put gouges in the floors, and we plan to do a lot with hand smudges. But we like to think that, in terms of our basic decor theme, Zippy set the tone. We can't wait to get started, and we're looking forward to many happy years here, during which we hope to eventually locate the box containing our son.

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