Renting A Place Can Be An Adventure


I’ve always said that any couple that can afford to own a home right from the beginning of their marriage misses out on one of life’s greatest adventures — renting.

Now, you would think that finding and renting a place for you and yours would be a fairly straightforward procedure. You look around, spot a place, check it out, move in, and that’s that.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Go back and read that list of things to do. Two items on it look deceptively simple and easy, but aren’t. Take, “look around.” Do people do that? Sure they do. The trouble is, to wax a mite biblical, they look, but they do not see.

And as for that “check it out” thing? Forget it!

I admit it. I’m as guilty as anyone. Maybe more so. When I was looking for my current home in Pine I came close to screwing up. A nice lady agent was taking me around to look at places in my price range. We stopped at a little place up in Strawberry. I took one look at it, and said, “At the price you quoted if the inside is anything like the outside, this place is sold.”

“Well,” she said, “it is nice, but ...”

She turned Lolly and I around and pointed us across the street toward what looked like the local extension of the county dump, complete with two broken down pickups, the first tractor John Deere ever made, a shed leaning at an amazing angle, the only sway-backed house I’ve ever seen, and two dozen mangy looking dogs running around in four inches of poop.

Never did see the inside of that place up in Strawberry. No wonder it was so cheap. You’d have to be crazy to live there.

The first two places Lolly and I ever rented were over in Pakistan. I’ve already mentioned them so I’ll pass on them and go on to some places where I learned the meaning of an old Chinese curse: “May you lead an interesting life.”

Ever seen a Murphy bed? No? Well, it’s a great way of saving space in a small apartment. Instead of having to give up room for a bed, which is after all only used at night, or putting up with an unsatisfactory compromise like a coach that converts into a bed, a Murphy bed lets you have a full size bed with a good inner spring mattress without losing anything except a few minutes each day when it’s time to hit the sack.

Who invented it I don’t know — maybe a guy named Murphy — but a Murphy bed is a bed that, being hinged at its head, swings whole hog up into a closet when you lift it by its foot. The mattress doesn’t have to fold up like the one in a sofa bed, so it can be of regular quality. And there you are. A bed in a closet. Open the closet, fold down a perfectly normal bed whose front legs fold up when it’s in the closet, and hop in. That’s about it.

Except for one thing.

It would be very hard to lift that amount of weight, not to mention a bit dangerous to open the closet door, if the bed were not well restrained in the closet after you folded it up.

Can you picture it? Susie comes for a visit. Wife is in kitchen with hands in water. “Just hang your coat in the front closet, Susie,” wife calls out.

“I’ll be there in a minute.”

Susie opens wrong closet and is driven into the floor like a spike by a bed which is not properly restrained.

That could ruin a friendship.

As a result, a Murphy bed is held in by some very respectable sized springs which make it easy to lift it into the closet.

They also make it easy for it to fold up if a certain dummy, curious about how it works, stands up at the head of the bed and leans inward to see the mechanism.

Tell you what. I never did that again!

I was told afterward that it was defective and should not have done that.

Well, of course it shouldn’t have. I knew that. I think maybe that kind of knowledge is instinctive. Afterwards.

Now. A few other things to watch for:

Do not rent a third-story apartment in Trenton, N.J., until you check to see whether your car can stay parked after 6 a.m. on your days off. Or at least until you check the size of the fine and the walking distance to the police impound lot.

Do not assume that small red spots on the wall of a bedroom are mineral deposits and do not have legs or biting parts.

Do not pay extra, sight unseen, for a television set until you ascertain with certainty that the screen is larger than three inches in diagonal measure.

And I ain’t kidding, bro. Three lousy inches!

Do not assume, while living in England, that you can hang your pictures around the house, including on inside walls, by just driving nails into said walls at appropriate locations. The Brits, you see, have an annoying habit of making all the walls in a house, even those which are holding up nothing more than a few ounces of wallpaper, out of solid eight inches thick brick.

Also while in England be aware that the push-button light switch you click on down in the entryway when on your way up to the third floor apartment of a friend is on a timer. It is expected that you will ascend three sets of winding stairs at the rate of an Olympic runner.

Man is it dark in a closed stairwell when the lights go off!

Also in England, when the blokes say “spend a penny,” which also means “use the loo,” they ain’t a-kidding. Bring a penny with you or expect to run around in circles begging for a handout while you keep your knees tightly held together. That is not easy!

I once rented a Cream Ridge, N.J., country home with seven bedrooms, and a driveway so long it had six oaks on either side of it. Cheap! I mean CHEAP cheap!

I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Then came winter, the fuel oil bill, and six days of snow.

Rent: Lease or let. Adventure: Encounter, escapade, hazard, ordeal, peril, risk. Not necessarily in that order.


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