I don’t think it’s a secret anymore that my husband loves HGTV. His happiest moment of any given day is when he flips on the TV and that channel is still on from the night before. His favorite HGTV shows are the real estate ones, where people are looking for houses to buy. These shows are as formulaic as Law & Order: The buyers have over-the-top expectations, the wife gets her panties in a knot and gets very bitchy, the Realtor gets frustrated and starts rolling her eyes and having aside conversations into the camera, the husband gets fed up and wanders over to the neighbor’s garage and has a beer with a guy he knows he’ll never live next to because of a sump pump (off camera). These shows are popular, despite the lack of a single sympathetic character. By the end of these shows, I don’t want anyone to get a house or a commission.
And then there are the shows where a couple half my age are looking for a vacation home in Belize or Costa Rica or some other Hawaii-like place. Reminding us viewers that these properties come with a staff of housekeepers and gardeners is just mean. The wife demands beach front and a spectacular view, the kids gush about the surfing, and the husband wanders over to the neighbor’s villa where he gets held up for drug money (off camera). I don’t think I’m alone when I say that when I watch these shows I hate people who can afford to buy vacation homes while still in their 20s.
“What does he do for a living?” I’ll ask my husband. “And if they don’t pick the first house, they’re stupid and they deserve the scorching, breeze-less late afternoon that they’re getting with those other two houses.”
My husband hates when I comment on the HGTV shows. They bring out the sarcastic troll in me. I start out criticizing the buyers’ inability to see the bones of a house and I end the show by making fun of their clothes and the way they walk. And the fact that they say “the bones of a house.”
“You’re kidding me. You really are going to pass on this place because of the kitchen wallpaper,” I snarl from the couch. “And lose that belt. Gawd.”
My husband gets up and moves to the other couch.
So now that we ourselves are looking for houses (off camera) I’m actually living my least favorite TV shows. But I find myself trying to be like them.
“I like how they’ve used the space here in this ridiculously tiny powder room that is unfit for full-sized humans,” I say, trying to sound like Anne from the House Hunters episode where she and Craig want to downsize but keep saying that the houses were so much smaller than their old place. She tried hard to come up with something positive to say about each room, but anyone could see that she was not on board with the whole reduce-and-simplify plan. That is so Craig.
I’ve also been trying to pretend like I’m on House Hunters so I won’t slip into whiny, critical, snarky behavior - at least not as early as the first house. Also so I’ll dress better and not use cliches. This all fits in well with my Pretend Your Way to a Better You campaign, which I was all into in 2010. Pretending I’m on House Hunters could revive that movement for me and make me a better person as I look for a house.
Off camera, well, that’s another story.
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Diane's book "Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves" will be available at Amazon.com in May.