Big old Victorian houses in Brooklyn get visited a lot by TV and film location scouts, and the CrazyStable is no exception; as a scruffy background for ex-cons and mad bombers, we've been used twice by "Law & Order" and are known to be "film-friendly." So we welcomed an outreach from something called "Boy Wonder Productions," vaguely described by another scout as some sort of indie flick. They came, took pictures inside and out, and were eager to return for a closer look, so I looked up the project and discovered: We were being scouted for a renovation reality show!
No, not with Ty and the gang, alas. This looked like a shoestring outfit with just two obscure renovation shows in production, and I suspect they wanted us for an upcoming entry on the DIY Network, touchingly titled "I Hate Your House." Here, verbatim (God knows I don't write copy like this) is the description of the show on their website:
"We all know of that house. The one where you walk into a your friend's home and you are scared to sit on the couch or use the bathroom because you do not know which amenities are functional. They are nice people who have just let their house go a little too far and your too nice to tell them ---until now. The DIY Network tackles the problem homes with a little bit of attitude in the new show, I Hate Your House. Based around an intervention, our brother-sister duo, Jonathan and Nicole, will give homeowners the wake-up call that is been past due with the support of friends and family. Not only will they point out the sights that horrify friends, but they will show the homeowner how to make it look fantastic, teach them skills so they can attack the other problems in their home, and have a great time doing it. Using new and innovated products, the home will transform before the homeowner's eyes into a beautiful space that friends and family can appreciate."
"Wake-up call"? What, were they going to flush out our "horrified" friends to ambush us about those third-floor kitty-litter pans, or the part of the porch ceiling that's hanging down? And who are Jonathan and Nicole—stylish, sneering siblings from Hell who will turn the CrazyStable into a sleek McMansion? I called Boy Wonder, where a nice young lady didn't specify which show we were unwittingly auditioning for, but did allow that we would be on camera and would get "a couple of rooms renovated for free." Certain that this was our worst chance for fame since a film crew begged us to vacate on Thanksgiving Day for a Metallica music video, I said a cordial but decisive "no." (The blogging possibilities were tempting, however.)
Funny as it was, the whole affair did play perfectly into the renovator's paranoia of anyone with more old house than they can fix at any one time. We're far from sipping lemonade on the gingerbread porch while people admire our woodwork on the house tour, folks. So what do the friends and neighbors say about us when, year after year, we still can't afford to paint the place? Are we really bad enough to need an intervention from the ghastly Jonathan and Nicole?
Curiously, my paranoia morphed quickly into a fierce protectiveness. A flashback montage played in my head of all the Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas mornings, summer afternoons of 20 years; of the dear friend who made this her last home, and said, with labored breath, "Oh, it's a wonderful house." Of the many kids who have remarked in awe upon its coolness. The Caribbean neighbors who assured us, "It takes time." I thought of the life journeys of my mother and daughter and how they briefly overlapped here at one's end and the other's beginning. Thought, too, about the century of Brooklyn history that has flowed around this house, which is now piped for both gaslight and broadband.
And that's why I'm giving a big "googie" (as Harpo called that face, above) to "I Hate Your House" and all it stands for. We'll be making strawberry shortcake inside this old house this weekend, Jonathan and Nicole, and you won't be joining us. However, my fellow renovator and hospitality guru Mr. Fawlty sends his regards...with a "little bit of attitude."