As I've shared before, my house has been for sale since last November. The process is drawing to a conclusion, and my realtor called last week to alert me she'd be touring the property with an inspector from the bank.
"Sure," I agreed. "I can stay home and clean all evening, and we can have the place in pristine condition by tomorrow morning."
"Right, see this isn't like all the other showings you've been doing where the house has to look perfect," she explained. "In fact, it's OK in this instance if the place looks a little . . . "
"Distressed?" I suggested.
"Exactly," she agreed. "I know it goes against your nature since you have this urge to clean up for guests, but in this case, it's OK to let it all hang out."
I had a sudden mental picture of the housemates lounging on the sofa in their underwear watching soap operas. The realtor must have had the same mental picture, because she quickly clarified. "Go ahead and leave the breakfast dishes in the sink, the dog toys on the living room floor, and the beds unmade."
"This will be fun," I said, with more enthusiasm than she probably wanted to hear.
I got home and explained the situation to the housemates. One of them was in the process of preparing a dinner of hot dogs stuffed with cheese, wrapped in pastrami, battered and deep fried. He gestured to his fryer with reverence. "So I can leave this out on the counter when I'm done?" he asked.
"Absolutely," I agreed. "Don't do the dishes, either."
The other housemate grinned and held up his empty beer can. "Want me to leave this on the counter instead of throwing it in the recycle bin?"
I considered that for a moment. "Throw it on the floor. That would be a nice touch."
Suddenly, both boys were overcome with inspiration.
"That dead bird that flew into the window last month is still in the backyard," one of them said. "Want me to go get it and put it on the floor?"
"Yeah!" agreed the other housemate. "Then when the inspector gets here, we can offer to deep fry it for her."
"I haven't done laundry all week, so I can toss my clothes all over the house."
"Oh! We can repair the motorcycle engine on the dining room table."
The other housemate whistled for my dog as he began rummaging through the fridge. "What can we feed you so you have really bad gas tomorrow morning?"
Mildly unnerved by their enthusiasm, I headed to the bathroom to change out of my work clothes.
"Don't flush!" someone called after me.
The next day, the realtor called to let me know the inspection had gone very well. "You did a nice job dirtying it up," she said.
I felt strangely proud. "That was the most fun we've had with any house showing in five months," I admitted.
"I could tell."
Sadly, undoing the mess wasn't nearly as fun as creating it. Convincing the housemates that we don't get to live like that on permanent basis was equally disheartening, though they're already plotting future inspections.
"I've got an idea," one of them told me this morning. "Have you ever seen that show Hoarders?"