Deer heads and toilet paper: previous homeowners make stressful moves

It’s spring, and the hills are alive with the grating squeal and grinding gears of moving vans manned by amateurs. Why, you can almost smell the dusty scent of packing boxes filled with broken heirlooms in the air. The official “moving season” as begun across our great nation.

Moving from one home to another has been rated by the American Society of People Who Rate Things (okay, so I forgot the actual name but it was a real group, I swear) as a “traumatic life experience,” boasting a stress level akin to job loss, personal illness, and exposure to Britney Spears videos.

Obviously, the stress does not arise from the simple act of moving itself. Honestly, how hard is it to pack 7,000 knickknacks in two boxes, break your great-great-grandmother’s urn, and inexplicably lose all your soup spoons in the drive across town? Anyone can do that.

Rather, the stress comes in the byproduct of moving: the horrifying necessity of taking refuge in a home once inhabited by others. Let’s face it, former owners are a hazard and clearly should come with a warning label: “Warning: This previous owner had a fondness for do-it-yourself electrical repair. The refrigerator now doubles as a toaster.” Or “Warning: Cold means hot and hot means third degree burns.”

Could it be worse? Yes, the stress of moving stems from the reality that when it comes to the people who came before you, the tastelessness of a previous owner (P.O.) knows no bounds.

Previous owners are just the type of fun-loving hooligans to leave you a house carpeted entirely in shag carpeting that is apparently glued to the floor and worse – as if there is a “worse” when it comes to almost any home decor borne of the 1970′s – it is in a color that your loved ones refer to in horror as “regurgitation.”

P.O.s also brick up fireplaces, install drop ceilings so low that the entire family develops hunchback, and plaster over wall lumps, bumps, and a family cat that stood still too long with copious amounts of badly applied spackle. All this is accomplished only when they aren’t busy industriously painting all the windows shut.

Left behind. In addition to the baffling array of things P.O.s have done to the dwelling is the perplexing array of “treasures” they leave behind.

From the “strangest items” file: an armchair nailed firmly to the living room floor, a mounted deer head hung in the shower, 70 former Fotomat kiosks hidden in a grove of trees, and – the grand prize winner – a mummified corpse.

On that front, a couple I know received a truly unusual endowment upon moving into their new home. Their attic was found to be stacked to the rafters with toilet tissue and other paper products. Case upon case of toilet paper as far as the eye could see. Had there been a Charmin embargo, our friends were fully covered. All we could say, in astonishment, as we gazed at the bounty of, well, Bounty, was, “That must’ve been one HECK of a sale!”

Self reflection. Are previous owners born or made? It’s scary to contemplate, I know, but what if we are P.O.s in the making and just don’t realize it? Worse, what if we have – gasp – already afflicted someone? You may be a carrier of P.O. and not even know it.

Should I ever have to move, I think I’ve covered myself adequately. The carpet left behind will be floral, none of the furniture is nailed to anything, and all our switches work, although the house does brown-out when we flip on the jacuzzi – is that bad?

However, just to be absolutely sure, I’ll make a note to be sure and take my bathroom tissue and the deer head with me when I go.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt left behind nothing of note in her last move – at least not that she will admit to publicly. She welcomes comments and suggestions c/o P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460 or kseabolt@epohi.com.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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