Stan’s House

My buddy Stan called.

(Why do so many of my stories begin like that?)

But this call was unusual.  It was not 3:00 a.m. and his voice betrayed no trace of panic. This led me to believe he must want to borrow something.

So I asked.

“No,” he told me, “I wouldn’t call for that.”

True.

Stan never calls to ask for something, he just shows up and takes what he wants.

I could hear the rumble and road noise of his eighteen wheel work truck over the phone which made me wonder if his wife tossed him out of the house again.  When that happens, he takes up residence in the sleeper.

“Are you and Daphne getting along?”

“It’s hard to tell,” he said, “the girl has her moods.”

I’ll bet.

“Are you fighting?”

“No more than usual.”

“Then why are you calling me?”

“Do I need a reason?”

I let my silence answer that question.

“I sold my house,” he said.

The news stunned me.

Stan lived in the same old house in the same old neighborhood where we grew up for as long as I knew him.

He remained long after things turned lethal and he hung on long after the government dumped millions into the area to chase off the riff-raff and bring in the yuppies.

Who ruined the place by fixing it up.

But Stan liked to fix things too.

The pimps and meth dealers never objected to him repairing construction equipment in his driveway – but the MBAs and doctors did. They petitioned for an ordinance prohibiting it, so Stan tore down the carriage house and put up a pole shed in his backyard.

They liked that even less and really threw a fit when he replaced a set of stained glass windows with aluminum ones.

“The old windows were cracked,” he explained.

“Why not repair them?” I asked.

He was incredulous. “When I could trade for perfectly good used track windows?”

And that was just the beginning.

For years, Stan reveled in his war with the neighbors. He did things that no rational person would do unless their rational was to piss off the people next door.

He painted his exterior in colors inspired by a trip to the Caribbean.

He replaced his grass with gravel.

His neighbors countered each move with a blizzard of ordinances and a parade of inspectors but Stan is a master of regulatory manipulation and bureaucratic jujitsu.

They never stood a chance.

But along came his marriage to Daphne and that ended that.

She had the pole shed removed and rebuilt the carriage house. She brought back the stained glass and had the grounds landscaped.  She replaced the Sheetrock and refinished the floors.  She ordered granite counter tops and updated cabinets.  She hired a professional painter.

“I blame it all on HGTV,” Stan grumbled.

“At least you have a nice place to live – or had,” I said, “but why sell it?”

“You are not hearing me,” he cried, “I blame it all on HGTV. Now she wants another house to fix up. She’s addicted.”

“That is too bad,” I told him, “but back to my earlier question, why are you calling me.”

“Like I said, we are in the process of moving and you have a shed.”

“Oh no, you don’t.”

“But dude…..”

“What?”

“I’m loaded up and calling from the freeway.”

Author: Almost Iowa

www.almostiowa.com

50 thoughts on “Stan’s House”

  1. We have a cousin who got into a war with his Mormon neighbors. He would sit on his poorly kept lawn every Sunday when he knew they would be leaving church and driving by his house. He would do this in an aluminum lawn chair wearing a leopard speedo drinking a beer. Actually now that I think about it I have a post to type.

    1. I always hoped that age would bring me wisdom and dignity, instead it gave me a bladder the size of a walnut and Stan, a force of nature who reminds me that no matter what you accomplish or how far you flee, you cannot escape who you are.

    1. I have missed you all too. Harvest ended Saturday night and we all had a beer then went home to sleep.

      Sleep is good. I forgot just how good it is.

      Thankfully, none of the corn had to be left in the field. It was a bumper crop despite hail, wash-outs, a dry July, a cold August and wet October. Still everyone has lost money on corn this year.

      Oh well, there are posts to read, essays to write and a pile of books on the end table nearest the fireplace – but first comes Scooter. He misses our long walks.

    1. HGTV is evil. Seriously, has any house owner, anywhere, anytime actually realized a financial benefit from hiring a contractor to work on their house? It might have happened some time in a galaxy far, far away.

    1. Thanks Jennie, I always enjoy writing about Stan.

      He is a made up character, an amalgam of everyone I knew in the old neighborhood in Saint Paul and all my friends still ask, “Am I Stan” and their friends tell them, “Yeah, you are.”

        1. The character Stan was born in a hallway of the Minneapolis City Hall. I was walking with my lieutenant and two deputy chiefs when we encountered a friend from the old neighborhood who had just been released from jail. We were dressed in civilian clothes and he had no idea that I worked for the police since we had not spoken in years. He proceeded to lambaste both the police and the jail.

          It was very informative.

  2. Since I’m a person who thinks Tommy Silva is part of my extended family, I’m thinking I’d get along really well with Daphne. 🙂 Love this post. 🙂

    1. I wish Tommy Silva was part of my family, I’d invite him over for a beer and say, “Uh, could you look at my foundation? By the way, I have a sledge hammer, a trowel and mixer full of wet concrete.”

    1. Back in the mid 90’s, the Minneapolis City Council appropriated $900,000 for the police to build a high speed network. Their intent was that the project would fail and that they would claw back the money to spend on other things.

      The day after the appropriation, a cop who also raised cattle came to work with his arms full of white packages. He picked up the purchase orders and vanished into the bureaucracy. As he stopped at each desk, he asked the person whose signature he required whether they preferred steaks, beef jerky, hamburger or ribs.

      Two days later, he emerged from the machine with everything signed, sealed and delivered. The council’s first reaction was shock, their second reaction was to promote him as high as they could.

    1. Once I told him that his behavior constitutes Greg abuse.

      “Your wife said that too,” he told me.

      “And?”

      “And she didn’t appreciate the irony.”

      “She’s not the only one.”

      “Huh?”

      “Never mind….”

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