It's not about the house.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Tramp's Story, Part XV: The Final Insult

Oh, Christ, I don’t even know if I remember anymore...


Now, where was I? Oh, yeah: Continued from here. And even if you think you mostly remember where we were, may I suggest you go back and re-read the last few paragraphs? Because I had to, so I think it’s only fair…

My cell phone rang while I was on my way home from work that Monday afternoon. Ms. Notary, telling me she wasn’t going to be there until 5:00 after all.

“Oh," she offhandedly added, "and your husband has to be there, too.”

What!? But he’s actually at work for the first time in a year! You couldn’t have told me this yesterday?

But what I said was:

“His name’s not even on the mortgage!”

“Yes,” she said. “But it is on the deed, and so he has to be there.”

I repeat: you couldn’t have mentioned this yesterday?

But what I said was:

“Um, okay. I’ll call him. He’s at work, though? Down in Brockton? And he doesn’t drive. So he’s kind of at the mercy of the fella with the car. He can’t exactly, you know, demand to leave right now. I’ll call him, but if he’s not there before you we’ll have to wait.”

I was goddamned if I was going to reschedule the End of this Ordeal for something that wouldn’t have been a problem if she’d told me, so I didn’t even throw the idea out there. And sure enough, when I called Johnny he was already at home. I called the notary back to tell her, just to set her mind at ease, but she didn’t answer. While I was leaving a voice mail, my call waiting beeped. I’ve never been able to figure out call-waiting on the cell phone, so I hung up on her voice mail and waited for my phone to ring.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hello,” said the notary. “Somebody just called me from this number?”

Yes! I did! It’s me, you idiot! The person you just spoke to! The last number you dialed! Unless you called somebody else while I was calling Johnny, and you’ve never been able to figure out your call waiting either!

But what I said was: “Johnny’s going to be there, after all.” She didn’t care. She didn’t seem to understand why I thought it politic to call. And she sure as shit didn't tell me we’d need copies of his IDs as well. Didn’t mention that little nugget till she walked into the house.

“Oh!" I said. "I didn’t know that! Let me run up to Staples! It’s just two miles up the road! It will only take ten minutes! Swear to god!”

She hesitated, looked around, decided she didn’t feel like waiting.

“How about if he goes,” she said, pointing at Johnny and talking about him like he was a chair, “and we’ll start without him.”

Okay: A. I told you "he" doesn’t drive. If "he" goes it will take three hours. B. Even if he did, you would save no time starting without him, because you’d only have to go back through all the papers twice. C. Don’t you give me that look, Lady, just because I don’t have documentation ready that you didn’t tell me I would need!

But what I said was:

“He doesn’t drive.”

“He doesn’t have a driver’s license!?”

For Christ’s sake, lady, you’re a notary! Do you not realize there are other forms of ID in this world?

But what I said was:

“Yes, he has one, but he doesn’t drive.”

This blew her mind, and she muttered for a while about how she couldn’t imagine. I let her do this for a while, till she finally trailed off. She still didn’t want to wait for me to go, though (never mind that if I’d gone when this first started I would have been halfway back by now). She decided we would pass papers and then, when we were done, she’d follow me to Staples for copies of "his" license and green card.

“If I’d known there was a Staples so close,” she said, “I would’ve gone to that one instead of the one I got hung up at in Rhode Island, and then I wouldn’t have been late!”

Yes, well, except you weren't late. You were on time. But you wanted to be early. And if you had been early, Johnny would not have been here when you got here. See?

But what I said was:

Nothing. I can be wise when it suits me.

As we passed the papers there was a little to-do about the way Johnny makes his nines. She said they looked like sevens and it wouldn't do. She actually drew one for him and made him practice copying it a few times like a kindergartener. This was not at all humiliating for someone who’s been living with dyslexia for fifty years, but fortunately his accent’s thick enough and his dialect colorful enough that he can say insulting things to people’s faces with a smile and sound charming.

“Make a yob of me again, Colleen, and you’d be wise to watch yer loaf, ye dozy cunt!”

Wink. Smile.

Nervous laughter. She’s not sure if she caught that last word correctly. “What?”

“Ah, nothin’, love. Yer grand.”

Wink. Smile.

And she blushes like a schoolgirl.

So it took forever, but finally we were done. At which point the dozy cunt decided she didn’t want to follow me to Staples after all.

“It’s dark,” she said, “and I don’t know where I’m going. What if I lose you?”

It’s two miles up the road! You’ll know you got there when you see the big red building that says STAPLES on it! Argh!

But what I said was:

Well, nothing. This time I was pretty well struck dumb. It must be catching.

She told me I could make the copies by myself and fax them. Not to her, but to the bank. She wouldn’t be mailing the package until morning, anyway, so they wouldn’t have the papers for two days. As long as I got it to them first, we’d be all set.

You understand what I’m telling you, right? That even though we’d passed papers, we still weren’t done?

I called the bank before I walked into Staples the next day, just to make sure they were expecting my fax – that it wasn’t going to flutter off some forgotten machine somewhere and get doodled on. They said oh, yes, they were expecting me, but I should send it to this other fax number instead. Straight down to New Millennium Title Group, in Texas. They’d only have to fax it down there anyway, and this way it would save a generation.

“Okay. But could I have a phone number for them as well, and a name, so I can call first and make sure they're expecting me?”

While they were looking for it (and don’t ask me why that took so long) my phone battery died.

I faxed it anyway.

And when I got home, I looked up New Millennium Title Group on the internet, found a contact name in my stack of papers, and I called. Yes, they had received the fax. Yes, they were expecting it. Yes, I was all set.

“All set?”

“All set.”

“So, like, we’re done?”

“Well, you do have a three-day grace period to change your mind, so it won’t be official-official until that time’s up on Friday.”

Hold the phone. I can still change my mind? Just call 'em up and say "Psyche!" and forget the whole fifteen-part series ever happened? Hm...


I held my breath for seventy-two hours, waiting for a hurricane to hit Texas or a FedEx plane to get hijacked or for Bank of America to fail like all the rest, but nothing happened. Friday quietly came and went, and it was done.


Fixed for thirty years.

No penalty for early payment when my book sells for a million dollars and Judd Apatow turns it into a blockbuster movie starring January Jones.




A few weeks later they sent me a check I still don’t understand for around $250. A few weeks after that, I got the principal back on the extra payment that I’d made: $638. A few weeks after that, something about the escrow: $5.75. Somewhere in there I got my new bill and paid it. It is done.

Oh, and last week the new title came.

Addressed to Mr. John Conroy.




Khurston said...

God bless us, everyone!

12ontheinside said...

Still cannot get over fixing the rate so low for 30 yrs. It would never happen here. I don't think we got as affected by the global financial thingo as much as other countries did though so I suppose that's why. Still sucks to be me - but good on you - for finally finishing! :)

Charlie said...

Dear Mrs. Conroy,
Thank you for finally finishing the story...even though I finished it WEEKS ago!!!
Dr. One Friend.

Sashimi said...

Good for you :-) Have a nice and "warm" Christmas and beyond.

pork luck said...


Chris said...

Which story was this again? The Holidays always throw me off.