The housing market fell apart as we were buying our second house. This was most excellent in that we underbid on the property and there were no other players. The poor owners were moving to Delaware, so they were stuck with our offer. It wasn’t really so bad for them, though. They made money on the house, just not as much as they hoped.
On the other hand, we were unable to get a buyer for our old house. We leveraged everything we had to make the new down payment, and then we became landlords.
The first house had been built in the 1880’s. The realtor on that house said it was a decent rental since nothing had knocked it up in more than a hundred years. Seemed right.
I was a bit busy. We closed on house #2 two weeks before The Big Guy was born. Had about enough time to unpack the dishes, set up the furniture and then have a baby.
We needed a signed the lease to buy the new house. Our first tenants were very nice people. Three young women who were “volunteers” for a Lutheran charity. The charity actually rented the house. The people were so nice, they gave the Big Guy a set of sweet books for his first birthday. They paid the rent on time. I was baby-addled so that was all I required.
When they moved out, our next tenants were a rock and roll band.
If you thought these lovely women were nice, you’d be very impressed with the band. The Spouse would go by the house with the Big Guy who would ask about the dwums and the gutaws. The bass player would take his axe out and let the kid touch it. Even as they were going to a show. They’d be late for the kid.
The band was excited that they had a release on vinyl. They were happy to sell CDs, but pined for the sound of diamond on plastic. I think I bought the LP, but we didn’t have a turntable setup. I wonder whatever happened to that record.
Although I was only six or seven years older than they were, we were the people with the baby that owned the house they rented. That made us old. I guess, relatively, they were right. We were parents. They had parents.
One day they came over to our house for something or another to sign. As always, they were generous with their affection to our boy. He had many questions.
Big Guy: Where are your instwuments? [please substitute the “w” sound for every “r.” Makes for a more realistic and cuter dialog.]
Singer: Awww, we left them at the house. Sorry.
Big Guy: That’s okay. [walking around to the bass player, climbing on his lap and tracing the colorful full sleeve on his right arm] Why you have dwawings on your awm?
Bass Player: These are tattoos. They tell stories. This is about where I’m from, this is a bird that flies to far away lands, and this part symbolizes my sister.
He looked up at me, a bit embarrassed.
Bass Player: Sorry.
I knew that he was worried that the old landlady would disapprove of the tattoos and his sharing of his disreputable marks. He was concerned that I would think he was a bad influence on somebody who could not yet make the “R” sound.
Me: Sorry about the tattoos? They don’t bother me. My dad has them. Down both arms.
The Bass Player was quite surprised and not just a little impressed with my wickedness. The Big Guy slid off his lap, walked around to the other side of the table and sidled up next to the singer.
Big Guy: So, where’s your cawtoon? [translation= cartoon; also, his interpretation of the word tattoo]
Singer: [using his index finger to pull the V on his v-neck tee below his left pec] Right here. See this “V”? It’s my wife, Victoria’s initial. She is tattooed right over my heart.
The Big Guy nodded knowingly and approvingly in his three-year-old way. But actually, it was like he did understand.
The drummer was looking for attention.
Drummer: So, where’s my tattoo?
Big Guy: [emphatically, but kindly] You don’t have one.
The mates quickly exchanged looks. The Drummer especially was bemused. Everyone else was amused.
Drummer: Hmmmm. You’re right. I don’t.
I think that the smart Big Guy then gave everyone a hug and went to brush his teeth.