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Advertise on the Tentacle

January 29, 2006

Moving Day Down The Ocean

Tom McLaughlin

In most neighborhoods, at the end of the month, rental trucks appear at houses to be loaded with the belongings by friends and relatives. A person has a new job, or retired and decided to move, or got caught with boss's wife. Usually the next morning, the gang appears and loads up the truck. By noon all is finished, the truck pulls away as neighbor's wave goodbye.

Here in Ocean Pines, things happen a bit differently. Trucks arrive but they are not from a rental agency. The usually have something like "Joe's Handy Man," or "Cuthbert's Fresh Seafood" in a very faded script with an unsuccessful attempt made at painting out the name. They arrive after dusk, usually without the lights and park in front of a home where the night before was ablaze with good tidings and mirth.

Then, after Law and Order, which is usually when I walk the dog, a very silent exit of furniture begins. Hands - quietly, oh, so quietly - carry goods as if it were lead crystal, into the truck. There is an occasional crash followed by a whispered curse and an entire four bedroom home is emptied into two or three trucks, vans, or any combination of these vehicles. I wouldn't even have known it was happening except the dog stopped and barked.

The renters know the puppy from previous walks and tell me they are leaving for a new job in the Carolina's. They fail to mention which one and I know better than to ask. I also do not suggest they turn on a light. Ignoring me, they say profuse and tearful goodbyes to the puppy as she wags and shakes her body all over.

About 10 days later, when the rent check fails to appear, the owners show up. The newer landlords - usually with a bewildered look on their face - ask if I have seen anyone around.

I truthfully answer no, but do not volunteer any information. Meanwhile, the dog is so happy to see them and if she spoke English would have told them the whole story including license numbers.

We say goodbye and I continue my ambulation. The landlords who have been renting in this area for years know exactly what happened, clean the place out, make repairs, stick the old "For Rent" sign in the window and place an ad in the newspaper.

On weekends in the Pines, as everywhere, there are open houses. But things are a bit different here as I have told you before. Some of the signs are not the expensive real estate agency masterpieces with arrows on them and balloons festooned. Rather, they are the ones that have been stolen from real estate agency open houses, painted in dark brown paint and have the words printed in a 3rd grade hand with an arrow. Below the "For Sale" is "On the Water."

"On the Water" around here can mean just about anything from Ocean Front, to bay front, to settling pond front to canal front. In this case, the house was canal front. If I could pick up a good head of steam, sprint and perform a mighty leap, I would land right in the middle with a splash but the puppy would sail over to the other side with yards to spare.

The home had been built in the 1970's and nothing had changed since. Shag rug, yellow appliances, a Farrah Fawcett poster painted into the wall that no amount paint could cover, looks over the bed, teeth still gleaming white.

The home had three bedrooms or, in my estimation, two and a place for the dog. Asking price? $478,000. The guy who sat in the house looked familiar and made the mistake of calling the dog by name. I tried to place him, but it wasn't until I looked in the garage and saw the truck with "Cuthbert's Fresh Seafood" painted on the side that I knew. A real estate agent who also owned a moving company.

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