Having lived in nearly a dozen cities scattered around the world, I have bought and sold my share of houses. And I have viewed, along with some realtor or another, perhaps a thousand dwellings, give or take a few hundred.
While searching for a new home in the early 90s, one particular house stands out in my mind. We’d just relocated after living six years in Asia, and were moving to Houston, Texas, home of the storied Astrodome, rootin’ tootin’ Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, shady Roger Clemens, and best darned salsa this side of the border. Not to forget George and Barbara Bush and the largest futuristic medical center in the world—an understatement—even for TEXANS.
It was a fragrant spring day, not yet sticky, when my realtor Marge* phoned to tell me a house had come on the market at the edge of the coveted Tanglewood neighborhood, not far from downtown Houston. “Evidently”, Marge drawled, “the owner is very motivated cuz the price he is asking is great!” (Or GRITE, as she said it). “And this afternoon they are hosting an Open House. So I say—yawl should go for it, Nay-un.” Funny how she could string my name out into two syllables.
Marge picked me up at our temporary quarters around noon. I skimmed the fact sheet on the house and grew bubbly as I read about the updated 4 BRs and 3.5 baths, cuddle-up/cozy den, dramatic designer kitchen, and “Master Suite Retreat…An Oasis of Tranquility”. This place looked like my kind of home…and affordable???
Pulling up to the house my heart did a somersault. Fancy foreign cars were lined up and down the tree-lined lane–“competition”, I fretted to myself. I fell hopelessly in love from the curb.
Entering the voluptuous mahogany front doors, I was greeted by a foyer full of mostly women, overflowing into the dreamy living room to my right. The place was packed with well-dressed, sophisticated looking house hunters. On the shiny dining room table to my left spread an array of luscious looking finger sandwiches, crudité, fruit salad and cheeses. Downright delectable desserts posed temptingly on the sideboard…
An attractive 50 something-ish blonde wearing an apple green Lilly Pulitzer sheath with a strand of pearls around her neck approached me in pale pink designer flats, holding out her hand. “Welcome honey” she cooed. “So very pleased you could make it!”
“Your home is just beautiful, so charming and warm”, I flattered the apparent owner. “Do you mind if I look in your closets?” A puzzled look crossed the woman’s pretty face as she muttered in confusion,
“Why, I guess not. Go right ahead, dear”.
I proceeded to peruse each and every room on the main level, then all 4 bedrooms and 3 baths upstairs. Next I headed out to the sprawling backyard, where a nice-looking, middle-aged man sat in an Adirondack chair reading a book. He was loosely framed by a border of white impatiens, shiny green boxwood, lavender hydrangea and lacy, white Dusty Miller, (that’s a plant, not a country singer). A canopy of mature, majestic Live Oak trees sheltered the idyllic setting.
“Good afternoon, Sir”, I alerted him. “Is this your wonderful home?”
“Why yes, it is, thank you”, he responded with a Texas twang.
I could not help but inquiring, “May I ask why you are selling this gem?”
He responded rather stunned.
“Oh ma lord, this place is NOT for sale, Mam”, he assured me. “I’m here til the hearse carries me off!”
Suddenly Marge the realtor approaches me from the patio, looking frantic and grabbing my arm so it hurts. She stage whispers,
“Nay-un”, Ah am so sorry, but ah am afraid I brought you to the wrong house. That’s a lah-dee-dah garden club function goin on in there. We gotta get outta here!”
Mortified, we snuck around the side of the house and through the back iron gate, then made a dash for our car.
The house for sale on this lush, lovely lane was:
1807 Oak Haven
1708 Oak Haven
But I gotta tell ya, that not-for-sale house sure had nice, spacious closets…

*Name has been changed to protect the idiot.


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