Our real estate agent was excited about a house for us. It was in our price range, updated, and in the area of town in which we’d been looking. Seemed like a great fit, so we drove over there Tuesday evening to take a look.
And the house was nice, we knew that as soon as we walked in. Fresh paint coated the walls and new carpet led us into a nice looking living room. The staging company had everything perfect too: nice wall hangings and furnishings . . . perhaps this would be one.
I inched over to the couch, wanting to sort of envision what it would be like to plop down in front of the fireplace after a long day at work. Before I could sit down, though, our realtor piped up, “Matt, look!” and gestured emphatically at the arm of the couch. I looked down, and then darted away, manliness not even a thought.
There on the arm of the couch was the largest mouse I had ever seen. It was just sitting there, docile, and large, so very large. Our realtor inched closer and snapped at it. Then he yelled, “Hey! Hey YOU!” at it. Nothing. Apparently the mouse was dead, but even so we kept our distance just in case—Halloween is close, after all.
I liked the rest of the house; I’m not sure if my wife did, since she refused to move from the safety of the apparently mouse-free kitchen. “You coming up?” I shouted. Her silent response was deafening.
We aren’t going to buy the house. It isn’t because of the slope in the backyard or the carpet stains upstairs. It isn’t because of the color scheme or layout. It is because of the rodents. Yep, we have added an item on our wish list: “varmint free.” And it is a deal breaker.
I’m a lot like that house. I’ve got some stuff going for me, “Wow,” people likely think, “this is pretty nice.” I mean, I smile and I’m punctual, I’m courteous (as long as you aren’t around me when the Cardinals are staggering their way out of the playoffs). I have my behavior modified in a tasteful, pleasing way for the most part, just as that house had some nice finishes and paint and was fairly updated. Good, thoughtful changes. But still there was a big fat mouse, and it didn’t matter what else the house had or didn’t have, as long as it had that.
I think selfishness is the whiskered thing that lounges on the couch of my heart. And truly as long as it is there, it makes all the difference.
I think it is easy to behave. Don’t run red lights, don’t assault people, show up to work and do a good job. Honestly, I don’t think many of us have much of a problem with “behaving.” We clean up all right, I guess. But the measure of a man or woman, I think, is not on how well they can conform to the expectations of others. The true measure is what is lurking, crawling, beneath the surface. Even the most pristine edifices can be infested; the shiniest of curbside hearts housing decrepit crawling things within.
The paint could have been worse and the finishes too, and we would have given that house more consideration. We’ve been in several less updated homes, and none caused my wife to cower in the kitchen. The sellers got all the superficial details right, but they neglected the thing the mattered most. Might I learn from that and allow my own heart to be inspected. And maybe we’ll even find a house too.