When telemarketers call, you have a few choices: hang up, get angry, or make it weird. I choose to make it weird, always.
“Michael, my name is Kevin. I’m a local real estate agent. Did you know your neighbors on Superior Avenue recently sold their home?”
“Nope. I hadn’t heard.”
“Well, that’s probably because they sold their home in a hurry.”
I know what Kevin is getting at. The local real estate market is hot, hot, hot. But I have a policy about calls like this. Basically, I fuck with telemarketers for shits & giggles. I come by my prankster ways honestly. My grandfather fucked with telemarketers. He once kept a telemarketer from the Arthur Murray Dance School on the line for an hour, before telling the salesman he didn’t have any legs.
“What do you mean they sold their home in a hurry, Kevin?”
“Within a day of listing, they had a dozen offers. That’s the kind of service we—”
“That’s right. We move fast. Now—”
“Wait a minute, Kevin. Why would they sell so fast?”
“It’s a hot market, and with the right realtor—”
“Do you think they were abducted by aliens? Is that why they had to sell in a hurry?”
The line goes silent. Maybe I frightened Kevin with my talk of aliens; the truth is out there, but if Jack Nicholson taught us anything it’s that not everyone can handle the truth. Or, maybe Kevin is an alien, and now he knows I’m on to him. Or, maybe the aliens abducted Kevin!
“No, that doesn’t make any sense,” I say. “Aliens don’t have time to wait around to close escrow. They’ve got body cavities to probe and grainy UFO videos to film.”
“Is this a bad time?” Kevin asks. “I can call back.”
“It’s never a bad time to talk about aliens. But I don’t think we’re dealing with aliens.”
Kevin tries to collect himself, but I cut him off before he can get back to his script.
“They’re probably running from the law,” I say.
“My neighbors, the ones who sold their home on Superior, before skipping town in the dead of night. Have you ever seen House Hunters, Kevin?”
“Yeah, my wife loves that show.”
“My wife loves that show too! She’s a bounty hunter. The general public doesn’t realize it, but House Hunters is a great way to find people running from the law. That’s like bounty hunting 101.”
“A bounty hunter?”
“Yeah, like Dog the Bounty Hunter, or Boba Fett.”
“The dude from Star Wars. You know, Boba Fett! He’s the guy in the Mandalorian armor who chased Han Solo halfway across the galaxy. It’s hard out there for a bounty hunter. That’s what my wife always says.”
“Back in the nineties she had this client, Marsellus Wallace. His policy was to scour the Earth for motherfuckers. One time, this boxer who did Marsellus Wallace dirty went on the lam. Long story short, my wife had to go to Indochina to pop a cap in the boxer’s ass.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“I wish I was. My wife actually spent two weeks sitting in a bowl of rice, per Marsellus Wallace’s instructions. But as it turned, he found the boxer in a local sex dungeon. Say, did the house on Superior Avenue have a sex dungeon?”
“I… don’t… think… so…”
“Yeah, sex dungeons are rare. But as a real estate professional, you probably knew that. When we bought our place, we had to make a lot of compromises. Christina wanted a mid-century modern home, and I wanted a pool. Well, with our budget the sex dungeon was out of the question. Compromises, am I right? Hey! Do you have any listings for mid-century moderns with pools and sex dungeons?”
“Um… I have a four-bedroom in Northridge. I don’t know how big your family is, but maybe the extra bedroom—”
“Let me stop you right there, Kevin. Four bedrooms is plenty, and I appreciate the creativity. I really do. Because it’s not like every bedroom has to be a bedroom. It could be a home office, or a gym.”
“But I’m picky about where I locate my sex dungeons. Ideally, it’s in a windowless basement. Because of the noise. We us ball gags, of course. We’re not amateurs. But the last thing we need is some nosy neighbor hearing screams of ecstasy from our sex dungeon. You know how neighbors are these days. They just can’t keep private stuff private. I blame Nextdoor. That site is a rumor mill on steroids. Your sex dungeon ends up on Nextdoor and suddenly you’ve got a damn orgy on your hands. We’re not orgy people.”
Kevin forces an awkward laugh.
“OK,” he says. “I can tell when someone is having a little fun at my expense. Very funny. But I’m just trying to be of service here. I know that sounds silly to a joker like you, but I care about people. That’s why I became a real estate agent.”
“I care about people too! Honestly, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if I didn’t care. I was going to hang up, except you said my neighbors sold their home in a hurry, and that made me worry that they might be in trouble.”
“I’m not kidding. I’m setting our DVR to record every episode of House Hunters. My wife is on the case, and she’s one hell of a bounty hunter. She taught Dog everything he knows! Plus, I’ve closed the sex dungeon until further notice. We’re going to find our neighbors, and when we do, I’m going to check your references.”
“My references? Why’s that?”
“Weren’t you listening, Kevin? We’re in the market for a mid-century modern home with a pool and a sex dungeon, and we need a realtor who gets it.”
Sharing is caring: A word about another writer’s words 👇
Lyle McKeany writes a newsletter called Just Enough to Get Me in Trouble. I really enjoy Lyle’s work because he writes memoir with courage, humanity, and humor. A good place to start is Lyle’s story about trying to get a smoothie with his family. Naturally, complications ensue because the woman making the smoothie doesn’t know what she’s doing and another customer doesn’t seem to know how a society works. Anyway, Lyle mines those complications with an internal monologue—guest starring Marcus Aurelius!—that really spoke to me. Check out, You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me.