Friday, July 20, 2012

Don't Mind the White Trash

Everclear's White Trash Hell

I live in an amazing century home.  Built in 1906, by one of the prominent local builders in my town, it is a bonafide grand home...  2.5 stories...  Triple brick... It has a formal front staircase and two, count them, TWO, back staircases.  A butler's pantry, claw-footed bathtub, original stained glass, french doors.  I love it.  Have always loved it.  Can't really afford to live in it.

We are the House Poor.  Those who own century homes/money pits will know whereof I speak.  Every job that needs to be done costs at least $1000.  Last year we replaced the chimney - it was $3000.  You want to make money?   Rebuild freaking chimneys!  Hoping to eliminate our crazy debt load, the house has been on the market a couple of times in the last two years.  Lots of activity.  Many people came to see our house.  Many people LOVED our house.  Never once did we get an offer.  And it has nothing to do with the house.  It's the location. 

You see, across the street a little ways down looks like this:

Shouldn't be a problem right?  Looks fairly tidy, well kept?  What you don't realize is that from May until October, usually there are about 4 guys without shirts on, drinking beer, perhaps in front of a chiminea, possibly playing loud redneck music and more than likely yelling at one of their dogs "PRINCESS - SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

One of our next-door neighbours is a delightful family of three - we occasionally enjoy a beverage or meal with this family.  This is our other next-door neighbour:

There are approximately 8 apartments in this building.  This is an old Google Maps photo - it doesn't show the dingy white plastic lawn furniture that decorates the back entrance and the front doesn't show the near waist-high monster dandelions that are there presently.  Sometimes, for additional colour, there's a No Frills shopping cart left in the parking lot.  When our house was on the market, I would frequently hide the No Frills shopping cart behind the house - thinking to myself "Do you not SEE the for sale sign on our lawn??  Can't you help us out here??"  There's a drunk woman in the front left apartment who sounds like Harvey Fierstein.  She threatens to call the cops when she hears kids with skateboards on the street.  She is also convinced that she can hear all of our phone conversations. "I'm hearing things I shouldn't be hearing.  PERSONAL things,"  and that these personal conversations interfere with her cable.

These are the things that potential buyers sometimes (ALWAYS) notice when they come to view our house.  I say this because our real estate agent called us this week and asked to show our house even though it isn't presently on the market - her buyers were looking for a century home.  So we tidied and vacuumed and went to the library for an hour during the showing.  And sure enough.  They loved the house - hated the neighbourhood.  It's like they don't see the other good houses on the block, they only notice the white trash. 

But you know what?  In the 7 years we've been living in the house?  We really haven't ever had a problem with ANY of our neighbours.  Sure, I've had to call the police when there were fisticuffs - okay, really one guy pulled another guy off of his bike and started beating the crap out of him... but that was down the street - had nothing to do with us.  (A friend was over at the time.  He said "How come you never sit out on our front porch?"  It was quite literally the NEXT minute when the fight broke out.)  There was the time that the drunk lady next door (different one) fell off her bike and knocked her teeth out on the curb and I told Rissa to gather up tea towels while I called 911.  Rissa  learned all about first-aid - so really that was a teachable moment.  Oh, and maybe for a time there were some nice young men selling dope out of the back apartment next door.

The loudest it really gets (apart from the "PRINCESS - SHUT THE FUCK UP!" moments) is when one of the 'good' neighbours' children is having a melt down in the their backyard.   4 year olds have really big lungs.

But all of that is completely inconsequential - we open our back door to this:

A mature maple tree, stunning deck, swing, zip-line, woodsy play structure and marshmallow roasting area. This is where we spend our outdoor time.  This is where we live.  This is our home.  White Trash Neighbourhood or no, we love it.  And when thinking about potential neighbours - please remember - the white trash doesn't live WITH you.  They live NEAR you.  It really does make a difference.  One day, in the oh-so-distant future, we'll be out of debt and will truly be able to call it ours.


  1. Sounds like your neighbours would fit right in here in BelleVegas!

    1. I'm waiting for the neon lights and Elvis impersonators to come in next door.

  2. Now you know why they always chant "location, location, location."

    I laughed out loud at the part where you mention that you moved the shopping cart. Back in 2004 when we were in the midst of selling our home on Major St when I was transferred to Montreal, the night the sign went up I walked out the front door to find two of the local high-class teenagers perched on the curb in front of the sign smoking-up. I asked them to move. They told me I should lighten up. I explained that I had no issue with them smoking up and in fact would perhaps be happy to join them later, however, the prospective buyers may not feel the same way and so could they indulge in their habit somewhere else. I had to remind them that I wasn't judging them -- just wanted them to take it somewhere else. They smiled, said "Oh - OK - yeah, we understand" and moved on.

    1. Generally people are good, you know?? If you ask them nicely and they're not TOO crazy - they'll bend for you. I have a tendency to ask highlighting my boobs too - that can help.

    2. Next time I'm selling a house in Cobourg and this happens, I may just ask you to pop over to highlight your boobs if I need a hand. Well, that didn't come out the way I wanted it to, but you know what I mean.