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My husband and I had the great good fortune to purchase a modular home just a couple of weeks ago. I live in California, so while I was still trying to wrap my head around how anyone could possibly justify going into debt the way we had to in order to not own the land our home will sit on, it never occurred to me there would be even more bizarre events on the horizon.
What I had never thought about or even considered is the fact that when you live in a mobile home park (yes, I said it, but who has ever heard of a modular home park?) you must be approved by an association before you can actually make your purchase. Itâ€™s sort of like joining a country club. Sort of. Only I am not going to be able to rub elbows with the wealthy, or brag about my golf game, or even have lunch in the clubhouse. In this instance I am simply going with hat in hand and begging for them to like me enough to let me live there. Iâ€™m not just asking them to let me live there, it appears I am asking them to tell me what I can and cannot do while I am on the premises.
I understand rules and regulations. I know people like me would probably just run amok if no one was here to tell us to behave, but I really did think I already had my fair share of bosses. Thatâ€™s what I thought!
My realtor explained to me that I needed to go to the association and fill out some paperwork so we could get approved. Heck, how hard could that be? Weâ€™ve been the very best tenants a landlord could have. We pay our bills on time. Weâ€™re sweet, adorable and well trained. Who wouldnâ€™t want us?
My realtor also told me that the person I needed to ask for was Ruth. She told me I was going to love Ruth. Iâ€™m still trying to remember whether she had a smile or grimace on her face when she made that comment
My first mistake was taking my husband with me for the initial meeting. Why, you ask? Well, because heâ€™s a man and heâ€™s blatantly honest. Translation: heâ€™s never been a woman (as far as I know) and has had to figure out how to avoid offending anyone.
Our first few moments went just great. Bob, Ruth and I were fast becoming best friends. She made sure to warn us several times that the sale could not go through if we werenâ€™t approved. Iâ€™m smiling so hard my face hurts. Itâ€™s been a long time since Iâ€™ve been under such scrutiny. I began to feel like I was at the doctorâ€™s office waiting to hear my test results. Only Ruth has the kind of face itâ€™s impossible to read. Regardless of the conversation taking place, or the news sheâ€™s conveying, she has one expression. For the sake of brevity, letâ€™s just call if a â€śsmrownâ€ť. Itâ€™s somewhere between a smile and a frown and quite honestly, pretty confusing when you are trying to figure out where you stand.
Before even looking for a place to buy, weâ€™d made sure the park was pet-friendly, so when Ruth asked us if we had any pets, we both cheerfully chirped, â€śYes, we have a French Bulldog named Lulu.â€ť (You remember our Lulu, right?) Did I see a subtle shift in Ruthâ€™s smrown? At this point sheâ€™s still making little check marks on the paperwork weâ€™d filled out. Iâ€™ve already divulged where the bodies are buried, explained the skeletons in my closets, and promised to give them my first born (heâ€™s not working at the moment, so that may be a good thing). What could possibly go wrong?
Although her next question, â€śHow much does she weigh,â€ť appears fairly innocuous, my brain is warning me to think before I respond. Remember how honest my husband is? Before I can figure out how to answer this question he blurts out â€śShe weighs 24 pounds, I just had her at the vets last week.â€ť
The smrown has definitely made a downward shift. If I hadnâ€™t already given it a clever name, Iâ€™d have to say Ruth was frowning, but Iâ€™m committed to continuity here. Ruth now announces, â€śWe have a strict park policy. You can have two 20 pound dogs, but we canâ€™t allow one dog to weigh more than 20 pounds.â€ť Iâ€™m blinking and smiling. My brain is doing the math. My husband is still being honest when he says, â€śThatâ€™s the dumbest thing Iâ€™ve ever heard! Youâ€™re telling me if my dog weighs four pounds more than allowed we wonâ€™t be approved, but I could have two 20-pound dogs and that would be no problem?â€ť
Ruth is definitely not smiling as he continues. â€śI suppose it would be just peachy if I had two 10 pound Chihuahuas and they bit you? Ouch!â€ť Yes, the ouch was warranted because at this point I kicked him under the table. I have never done that in my entire life â€“ but I kicked him and Iâ€™m not proud of myself. It was sort of a primal survival mechanism. How could we have known Ruth has two Chihuahuas?
By now Ruth is texting like a crazy woman. Iâ€™m wondering who sheâ€™s texting. Iâ€™m hoping itâ€™s not the police because Iâ€™m pretty sure getting arrested while weâ€™re trying to get approved will not look good. She makes small talk, asking us things like â€śIs a French Bulldog anything like a Pit Bull?â€ť Even I know this is a trick question, so I immediately decide to try to smooth things over by having Bob go home and get Lulu so Ruth can meet her. I figure if nothing else, this will give me time to regroup and Iâ€™m sure taking Bob out of the equation for a bit can do no harm.
In his absence I attempt to mend some fences. I blather on and on about what a great and quiet dog Lulu is. I mention that the vet often weighs her with her harness on, which must surely add some weight. I think about offering Ruth a bribe, but realize Iâ€™ve already given my last pennies to the escrow company, the inspectors, and to the myriad of other individuals it takes to purchase a home. Ruth just keeps on texting.
When Bob returns with Lulu she is overexcited and panting like a race horse (Lulu, not Ruth). She thinks sheâ€™s going to the vet, which always makes her nervous (how I understand that feeling!)â€¦ Ruth gets her a small bowl of water and I watch nervously as Lulu drinks every drop. Ruth is patting her and making nice doggie talk. At about the point Iâ€™m beginning to relax, Lulu throws up on the carpet. Bless her heart, she knows sheâ€™s too fat and is trying to show Ruth she is willing to purge if necessary. Did I just say that? I am obviously a very horrible person!
Rather than beat myself up, I spent the next few minutes frantically trying to find something I can use to clean up the mess. Iâ€™m also keeping a close eye on Bob because I donâ€™t want him to make any more honest comments. And Iâ€™m also noticing that Ruth is once again texting.
Who was Ruth texting? The park owners, thatâ€™s who. At about the time Iâ€™m thinking I am going to have to kiss home ownership goodbye, she announces that the proprietors have reconsidered and are going to change the rules. Dogs can now weigh up to between 30 and 35 pounds. Iâ€™m so elated I want to hug everyone in the room, but before I can make a move, Ruth says there is one thing she forgot to mention. The park also has strict rules about walking dogs on the premises. Itâ€™s not allowed. I give Bob a warning look and notice heâ€™s still rubbing his shin.
She goes on to tell us that you must either drive your dog out of the park and then take a walk, or carry it out. Before I can kick myself, I blurt, â€śWell, that would certainly explain the previous 20-pound weight restriction, huh? Thank God I only have one. I can just see myself staggering out of the park with a 35 pound dog under each arm!â€ť As usual, I find myself terribly amusing. Ruth, on the other hand, is still smrowning.
Everything turned out okay. We got approved and Lulu has not been forced to go on a diet. I do, however, hope youâ€™ll forgive me if I wish I was just a bit more Ruth-less!