“All the world’s a stage.
And all the men and women merely players.”
William Shakespeare, “As You Like It,” Act II, Scene VII
Until he learned better, Handley Pringle always thought the word “stage” was a noun or a verb. As a noun a stage was where public performances took place. As a verb, “to stage,” meant to present as a public performance.
Handley didn’t consider the Pringle’s front room a stage, and he certainly didn’t think of his cluttered office as a stage. But that was before he and Regina decided to sell their large home.
The Pringles had bought the older house decades earlier. Letongaloosa was different then. Mitch Kapster, who had been a local real estate agent forever, showed them all the houses in his sparse listings. After several rounds of looking, they bought this particular two-story because it was in an excellent location and because Regina said that the house had “personality.”
Over the years the Pringles fixed the place up a lot. They modernized the kitchen and the bathrooms. Regina completely changed the décor. But it wasn’t until they engaged a real estate agent that the Pringles learned that Shakespeare’s phrase applied to their house.
The Pringles followed along as the real estate agent did a “walk through.”
“That flowered sofa will have to go. Get rid of all those photos on the piano. You’ll have to strip wallpaper in the downstairs bathrooms and paint them a neutral color. Same with the spare bedroom.”
The real estate agent winced at Handley’s office.
“There are major problems here. For starters take down all those framed diplomas, certificates, and citations for merit. The running trophies must go too. Get rid of all those doodads and goo-gahs on the desk and cabinets.”
“But why,?” asked Handley.
“Buyers don’t want to see your personal stuff,” said the real estate agent. “They want to see a generic house. Buyers want everything neutral so they can imagine themselves in the house.”
“But this house has personality,” said Regina. “I designed the décor to fit the house’s personality.”
“Buyers don’t want personality. They want neutral. You’ll need a stager. I can recommend someone who’s really good.”
“What’s a stager?” Handley asked.
“The stager will help you get rid of the stuff that distracts prospective buyers. The stager will help make your house look more like the pages of Nice House Magazine.”
“How much will that cost?” asked Handley.
“It won’t be cheap,” said the real estate agent.
“Forget it,” said Regina. We’ve decided not to move.”
Time passed. Then the people next door put their house up for sale. Their house was the same age and the same type as the Pringles’. They hired stagers. After the house was staged, Handley and Regina walked through it. The house looked a lot like the houses one sees in Nice House Magazine. But the neighbors’ house didn’t sell. They cut the price, and then they cut the price again. Months went by.
One day a tall young woman rang the doorbell.
“Hello. I apologize for the intrusion. My husband and I are going to buy a house. We looked at the house next door, and someone said that you might be willing to sell your house. Could I see it?”
Regina invited the woman to come in.
“In the living room the woman said, “I LOVE the flowered sofa. Everything you see nowadays is so blah and generic.”
As they walked from room to room the woman said she really liked the house. “Oh, that’s a nice touch,” she’d say of some bit of Regina’s unusual décor.
Regina didn’t want the woman to see Handley’s office, but they ended up there.
“Is your husband a runner?” the woman asked.
“He used to be,” said Regina.
“My husband is a runner,” said the woman.
She looked at the framed diplomas, certificates and statuettes. “Those are awesome,” she said.
“Thank you,” said Regina.
This house has personality. I LOVE it. Would you be willing to sell?
“We’ve thought about it,” said Regina.
Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co