Always Bring Rubber Gloves!

Since my ‘Janeius’ (thank you Brother!) is now accessible to the whole world, my wise friend Kat warned me not to commit libel or slander. Although every word I previously wrote was true, it did feature random nutters so I have removed identifying details to be safe rather than sorry! It now reads like a particularly dull game of MadLibs! 

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things that happened to us over the first four days of August.

Saturday: Packed two large SUVs to the gills with 27 rolls of toilet paper, an inflatable flamingo and a dozen pickling cucumbers in case Adam and Mckenzie feel like pickling. 🤦‍♀️. Five weeks in [ a popular East Coast summer destination] here we come!!

Met owner of rental house who is Droopy Dog in human form. This is the same one who told us after we had signed the lease that the cottage is not part of the rental because he lives in it (which apparently is a violation of the contract!) 🤦‍♀️

The same one who said ‘not to worry, the dwellings are completely private – you will never know I’m there’. This turned out to be untrue. The cottage is on top of the house and we can see in each other’s windows. His cottage looks into the pool where he is close enough to leer at my seventeen year old daughter in a bikini. And frankly, he seems the type. 🤦‍♀️

We looked around the house and the two words that best describe it are ‘dingy’ and ‘shabby’. We can’t find ‘the apartment’, a large bedroom within the main house with its own kitchen and bathroom. Although it’s true, there are a lot of locked doors. This apartment has been promised to Kyle and his friends for a private hang. We call the owner. He says ominously, ‘the apartment is NOT part of the rental’. 🤦‍♀️ (Also a violation of the contract).

Before we knew we had a legal leg to stand on, we start unpacking. The kitchen is filthy. There is a container of cooking utensils on the counter that still have food crusted on them. The drawers are full of dirt and grit and the cabinets are replete with hair, both human and dog. I wish I had brought my flamethrower but I just resignedly unpack my elbow length rubber gloves and my bleach solution. 🤦‍♀️

We did get into the pool for a little while in the afternoon where the following conversation ensued: Me: ‘it smells like something died around here’. Kyle: ‘yeah, like an animal…{points} ‘what’s that?’ Me: ‘oh god – it’s a rotting rabbit’…out come the rubber gloves again. 🤦‍♀️

We settle in as best we can and watch a movie. Outside the living room window there is the constant sound of pouring water from a faulty air conditioner. Mckenzie calls it our ‘water feature’. 🤦‍♀️

We find out exactly how faulty the AC is when we try to go to bed. Mckenzie and Kyle’s bedrooms are in Siberia. Ours is in Death Valley. Mckenzie dons sweatshirt and socks for bed – Adam and I try to drop off in the ninth circle of hell. 🤦‍♀️

The next day we find out from the owner that if you just go to Mckenzie’s room and stand on the dining chair that’s holding up the cable box you can close the vent in the ceiling. Then you can drag the chair to Kyle’s room and do the same. Then open both their windows and crank the AC down to 60 and VOILA you may have a semblance of comfortable cool down the hall. 🤦‍♀️

Down the hall you say? But what is that unearthly smell? Why do you have to hold your breath as you go into the master bedroom? And what’s this door? Oh no! Don’t open it!!!! Ugh you opened it. This smells like the rabbit to the power ten. And it’s coming from that rolled up disintegrating area rug. Is there a body in there? 🤦‍♀️

Never-mind about that – we are going for breakfast at [a delicious local breakfast place] with our friends Karen & Jimmy. It’s shower time. Me and Mckenzie first. Oh no, the shower is not draining. I’m standing in ankle deep water. Wait. The water has gone cold. My voice breaks slightly as I yell for Adam… ‘you’re not gonna like this’! He hasn’t had a shower yet! Call the ‘landlord’. He can’t take your call because he’s attending a virtual funeral. 🤦‍♀️

We arrive late to breakfast but at least we have time to find out from the owner that there is NOTHING WRONG with that water. He’s raised 3 children in that house he’ll have you know and he’s had a gazillion renters and made ninety thousand dollars and no one has ever complained. Although…the last renters were really dirty and that concerned him and the woman did have long black hair and…{whole body shudder}. 🤦‍♀️

Anyway, not to worry, he’s going to drop off some Drano® which turns out to be a drain snake. He wants us to fish out Elvira’s hair. He’ll also leave some Raid® to kill the colony of ants that marched in to claim an errant bit of kibble that Hooper dropped. 🤦‍♀️

Breakfast and our friends turned our day around. We spent a perfectly serene day on their private beach where Karen has been visiting since she was a girl. They fed us the most delicious homemade food and restored our sanity to boot.😁 

We knew we had to leave Chez [expletive]. Main problem – everything [in the whole region] is rented for the summer. We contemplate going home and then fate guides our hand to an angel in perfectly stylish wings and halo. ROD! This name should have flashing lights around it! 😁

I find a gorgeous house on VRBO. It is Rod’s house but it is no longer available because his summer plans have been canceled. However, he knows of another lovely house which is unexpectedly available. (Rod has a dual role as owner of gorgeous rental house/realtor). We are currently renting in [a very popular harbor town]. The new house is in [a very popular beach town]. There is one tiny insignificant little detail (thanks Love Actually) it costs the same for 2 weeks as we were paying for 5 weeks at the House of Horrors. So our vacation just shrank from 5 weeks to 2 weeks. It’s only Sunday and we need to leave the current house immediately but the new house may not be available until Tuesday or Wednesday. 🤦‍♀️

Rod has a colorful solution. There is an ‘inn’ in town that we might be able to stay in to bridge the gap and it will accept the dog, the golf clubs, the basketballs (plural) the 25lbs of dog food, the 25 bottles of hand sanitizer and other assorted unmentionables in our shambolic ‘luggage’. There aren’t really any other options so it’s a deal. [The inn] has a vibe that’s a cross between a halfway house and a rehab and it’s still considerably nicer than staying at [previous house].

[House owner], you ask? Are we about to close the chapter on him? Not quite. But first we have to strike a deal with [the owner of the inn]. 🤦‍♀️

This entails a conversation directly with the owner who is not [on the premises]. He conducts all inn business remotely from [where he really lives – 100 miles away]. The conversation goes as follows: ‘Oh I love the Brits…you are British right? Guess who I know? Stanley Matthews…Jr!!! (Five minutes spent discussing this association while I blag pretending that I even know who Stanley Matthew Sr is – we really need these rooms!). Guess who else I know? The Nolan Sisters!!! (All five of them?). I lived in their house for a month (another five minutes of me making appropriate ooohing and ahhing noises). 🤦‍♀️

The piece de resistance of the ‘conversation’: ‘This woman left me a terrible review and I hunted her down. Oh, the dirt I found on them – I could ruin the whole family’!! Message received. I won’t be leaving a review terrible or otherwise. Author’s note: [I don’t know which one of these reviews he was referring to but they’re all comedy gold – at quick glance he has responded to all of them! [Here I had included a link to his 1-star reviews – message me if you’re ever bored and want to while away an afternoon reading them!] 🤦‍♀️

And it speaks to the desperation of our situation that I still want the rooms! 🤦‍♀️

So we made the booking, but not by presenting our credit card at check-in. Nope! By ‘Zelle-ing’ his wife the money! All kosher and above board. 🤦‍♀️

We had arrived at [original house] on Saturday and on Sunday we first told [owner] that we were leaving and wanted a refund. He flat out refused saying ‘I don’t have it’, ‘I already spent it’ ‘I’m broke’ ‘I need it to pay my mortgage’ and other heart-warming phrases. 🤦‍♀️

On Monday morning we reiterate we are leaving and we need a refund. We have involved his realtor and ours and have been assured by them that he is planning to give us our money back. He seems to have had a change of heart today and challenges Adam with the Droopy Dog version of ‘sue me suckers’. 🤦‍♀️

So at 8am on Monday morning in the middle of our five hours of repacking the cars we had to retain a local lawyer. We have never sued anyone or even threatened to sue anyone. It is not a good day. 🤦‍♀️

[Owner] remains apoplectic. He insists we can’t leave without giving him a chance to make things right – he has already ordered a new boiler (🤦‍♀️). I keep imagining him coming over with a chainsaw or a shotgun but I do watch a lot of movies. 🤦‍♀️

There is nowhere to insert this snippet so I’ll just leave it here. Hooper recently had surgery and the stitches needed to come out yesterday but it was so chaotic I couldn’t do it. This morning in the midst of all the to-ing and fro-ing, me and my scrub nurse Mckenzie removed the stitches. We would find out later on this day that the growths are cancer. Not the worst kind, the kind that has the best chance of being treated and the least chance of reoccurring. Still it’s hard not to feel as if we are in the middle of a giant cosmic joke with us as the punchline. 🤦‍♀️

You know that phrase ‘I wouldn’t leave my dog there’? That phrase was coined for [owner’s] house and Hooper’s face has a look of great relief as we skid out of that driveway. Mckenzie utters sagely ‘we will never be back here again!’ Damn right sis. 🙋‍♀️🤜🤛

Karen and Jimmy gave us safe haven again on Monday evening. Fed, watered and wined us and provided us with a spectacular vantage point to watch a storm over the bay. At first, we thought it was just ‘summer lightning’ and we thought ‘how quaint’! But Hooper soon let us know that it was true thunder.

No story is complete without a natural disaster. Enter Tropical Storm Isaias. 🤦‍♀️

Our first night at [the Inn] was uneventful. We had no idea whether we would be able to get the keys to the new house on Tuesday or whether we’d have to stay here another night huddled in the room under the stairs. A posted sign on our door said ‘Strictly no food or drink in the room’. Going by the rest of the clientele, crack smoking and heroin shooting was perfectly acceptable. 🤦‍♀️

Kyle’s room was on the top floor and when I walked him up the dark rickety staircase thoughts of Dennis Nilsen popped into my head and I admonished him strongly not to open the door to anyone but me! 🤦‍♀️

Well obviously we survived the night and our stated goal was to get into the new house on Tuesday. Adam had an unmissable work call at 1pm and lo and behold, the moment he became unavailable Angel Rod messaged – I have the lease – send the money! And just then, the power went out! The shaky ac window unit ground to a halt and the already dim room (at 2pm) was plunged further into darkness. Unlike NJ, losing power in this region knocked out our cell phones entirely.🤦‍♀️

Rod had kindly offered that we could come to his house close by to sign the lease and effect the transfer but we hadn’t actually gotten to the part where we found out the address before chaos was upon us again. 🤦‍♀️

We ventured out into the storm. The town was deserted, trees were dangerously swaying. The realtors office where we might be able to trace Rod? Closed! The bank for the transfer? Closed! 🤦‍♀️

We drove around looking for a phone signal and Rod was finally able to bark out a few words between static laden dropped calls. We made it to his house, a lush green oasis, a calm in the storm. He said ‘Let’s go and sit under the pergola’ but I had wandered in the opposite direction so the fellas traipsed after me. Moments later we heard a thunderous crack coming from behind us. We rushed back to look. An enormous bough of a towering tree had broken off and fallen onto his pergola and into his pool. I saved us by not listening! I’m an honest to goodness hero. I should wear a cape! 💪😁

We got the keys at 5pm on Tuesday and we rushed over there with the same intensity as people fleeing an erupting volcano! The good news? The kids love it and the dog loves it. There is a big herd of deer that hang around outside. Hooper has never seen a deer. He is bamboozled. He doesn’t know if it’s bad or good but it does cause him to emit this low staccato rumbling, neither a growl or a bark. More like a rusty boat who’s engine just won’t catch. 😊

Well I can’t just leave you on a high note so I will creep in to the events of day five to tell you that TS Isaias did quite a number on the pool area of the new rental. It looked like a tornado had blown through. They had a long-handled pool net so I thought – I can fix this in a jiffy. An hour of skimming later my arms were spent so I sat down at edge of the pool for a rest with my feet dangling in the water. Just then my AirPod decided to jump out of my ear and into the pool. Plop! It sank like a stone and I jumped in fully clothed to rescue it! Shockingly after a few hours it started working again – so it is a happy ending after all!

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