Wednesday, July 13, 2005

polishing a turd

Perhaps you've heard the expression, "Silk purse out of a sow's ear," which is gross when you really think about it. Basically it means turning something icky into something beautiful and fabulous.

My dad has a similar saying, that goes, "You can't polish a turd."

In other words, if it's that gross, flush it and move on.

I bring this up because we went into our new house tonight. We showed up with cleaning products, trash sacks and a bottle of champagne in a snazzy little bucket to keep it cool. (Big shout outs to Anna and the Burgans, who got us the champers and the bucket, respectively. That's right, Anna. We busted out the Veuve.)

When we got there, the previous owner was still on the property, watering stuff. They'd just tented for termites, and he wanted to water all the plants right away to make sure they didn't absorb too many chemicals or something. Personally, I think he was also saying his last good-byes to the house, so we held back a little at first. But then we let him know we were there and he let us know a couple things about the place, and then went on his merry way.

Then we went in.

The first thing you need to know about our new house is that we are the second owners. The first owners, who purchased it when it was built in 1953, were smokers. And I'm not talking, "Oh my, I'm totally buzzed, can I bum a cigarette and smoke it outside?" smokers. I'm talking at least pack-a-day, in the house, cancer be damned! smokers. And they did this for, oh 20 years or so? More specifically, since the last time this place was painted (we're guessing 70's), people have been smoking in it. Leaving nicotine stains EVERYWHERE.

That shit is naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasty.

The first thing that hits you when you walk in is the muggy heat (no central air). Then the smell. mAc says it smells like Germany. I say it smells like Old Smokers House. I've only spent a day in Germany, so there's an excellent chance we're both right.

The second thing we noticed: this place is dirty. No, really dirty. Christina Aguilara, extra R's, Dirrrrty. I'm talking grime so thick you can't even tell where the thread in the screw is, much less get a screwdriver in there. And if we're talking hardware on, say, the kitchen cabinets? Oh, you can take the screws off. Eventually. That doesn't mean the handle is coming off without a hammer. That, my friends, is some serious mothahfuckin' GRIME.

Then we started noticing everything else. The chipped windowsills, the grody switchplates, the hole in one of the windows, the warped spot on the hardwoods in one of the rooms. The ants. Oh, dear lord, the ANTS. If Dreamworks is filming "ANTS 2: Electric EW!" in our house, they're in for a big setback when we show up with some industrial strength RAID, yo.

All that said, it's a good place. It's going to be a GREAT place. I mean, just cleaning it will do wonders. Paint will work miracles. Little things like new switchplates and hardware and big things like new appliances with move it into the 21st century.

We also noticed a couple cool things. Like where someone carved "July, 1959" into the patio outside the garage, letting everyone know when that garage was built. Best of all, the wall in the kitchen where all the grandchildren grew up, and were measured. In recent years, the house has definitely had most of its charm covered in a thick layer of filth. But at one time, probably for many years, it was a home. I can't wait to restore it to that condition.

So in conclusion, we're not, as my dad would say, polishing a turd. It's what's under the turdy grossness that we need to polish. And that? Is going to gleam.

1 comment:

Susanna said...

Hi, MV here! At one point we moved into an apartment where the previous tenants smoked heavily. We bought a HEPA filter air cleaner and just ran it constantly for several days. We went through a few filters (it was a 3BR), but it really helped remove the lingering funk from the walls.

Also, my MIL's tip is to wash the walls with a combination of bleach, water, & Spic-n-Span (proportions are approximately 1 cup, 1/2 gallon, 1 glug, respectively). Do this before you put down a new coat of paint.