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I have collected so many hilarious stories from my colleagues about open house debacles that I have titled this post, “Ham on Wry: It’s NOT a Good Idea To…” If you recognize yourself in any of these tales from the trenches, my advice is to plead the Fifth :

It’s Not a Good Idea To: 

…To ignore the dead parakeet in the cage (Unless you killed him – then play dumb and whistle a lot.) 

…To decorate the serving plates with an unidentified shiny leaf from the hillside. (Unless you are serving Calamine dip and Benedryl punch.) 

…To set the hand made lace tablecloth ablaze with your Crème Brulee butane torch, and then pour the Chianti on the fire to extinguish it. (Unless you can beat it the hell out of Dodge before the owner arrives home with a can of fava beans and a fork.) 

…To serve spaghetti at your open house where the carpets are new…and white…and the owner is a Red Bull addicted L.A. Agent with a bad attitude. (Unless Dr. Kervorkian just wasn’t available to assist you in your time of need.) 

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…To serve a Stilton cheese tray on a warm California day (Unless you’re expecting a swarm of podiatrists who are accustomed to the smell of foot fungus.) 

…To forget about the tree house until the moans from above interfere with your sales pitch. (Unless it’s here in Laurel Canyon – the canyon of “Piece and Love.” Uh, I mean “Peace and Love.”) 

…To disclose that there is a crazy woman next door…to the crazy woman next door. (Unless you want to be ground into pate and thrown into a cement mixer that’s in the driveway…of the crazy lady next door.) 

…To put the space heater on the table near the fish bowl. (Unless you advertised a Fish Fry.) 

…To allow the old lady with flatulence to wander through your open house firing gas rockets in every room. (Unless you can blame it on the Stilton cheese.)

It’s Also Not a Good Idea To: 

…To set up your open house food table on the lawn…without checking the timer on the sprinklers. (Unless you are planning on serving your famous flaming Crème Brulee, in which case it may be a good idea.) 

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…To set up the luncheon table near the compost pile in the garden out back. (Unless your food already tastes like s__t.)

…To whisper with compassion that the sellers are “splitting up”…to the unsuspecting mother-in-law. (Especially if she is the crazy lady from next door) 

…To use the seller’s vodka laced ice cubes in the punch. (Oh wait; maybe that’s a good idea!) 

…To ignore the boisterous voices and sounds of clinking ice cubes and “GO, BILLY” coming from the bar in the basement while you’re upstairs schmoozing. (Especially if it is in the house where the ice cubes are laced with vodka…and there’s a tree house out back.) 

…To set the cat box (with the cat in it) outside on the patio table…above where the dog hangs out. (Unless you don’t mind the complete mayhem when the frothing dog jumps on the table, toppling the cat box, wherein the cage breaks open releasing the screaming cat, after which the hapless cat scampers up the tree and jumps onto the new canvas awning… and ends the SRO performance by puking a giant hairball.) 

…To try to ignore the answering machine while the endless “I hate you, bitch,” message is being recorded for all to enjoy. (Unless ripping the plug from the wall is something you cannot do nonchalantly while disposing of the dead parakeet and trying to wrangle a puking cat.) 

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…To assume the sound of the shower is just someone testing the water pressure. (Unless you got the homeless guy pre-approved before he wandered in.) 

…To forget to insist that the seller remove the urine samples from the refrigerator. (Unless you want revenge on Billy and the other drunks down in the basement…or on the crazy lady next door who is now peering in the window.) 

And It’s REALLY Not a Good Idea To: 

… To allow the seller to put ol’ Sparky, the excitable German Shepherd, in the RV in the sloping driveway with the keys inside. (Unless Sparky is planning on taking the dead parakeet, Billy, crazy lady, puking cat, the sex fiends, and the homeless guy with him on his unexpected tour of Highland Park. Go, Sparky!) 

…To use the lovely can from the shelf as a door stop for your open house.(Unless you are POSITIVE the dog is riding shotgun with his buddy, Sparky…and is NOT in the lovely can.) 

… To set off the fire alarm by burning the quiches, then drag out a chair, grab the broom, swipe at the alarm overhead, tumble moon-over-Miami off the chair onto the couch with your skirt up around your waist like an inner tube, and then meet the prospective (and shocked) buyer with a cheeky, x-rated “Butt Greet.”  (Unless…unless…oh, forget it – there is no “unless.” I can tell you from experience that it sucks!)


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Written By

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn,, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.



  1. Paula Henry

    May 8, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Gwen – You have become a favorite here on AG. I love your humorous tales (truths) from the trenches. When ever I find myself needing a good laugh, I know which page to find on AG.

  2. Lani Rosales

    May 8, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    OMG Crazy lady? Butt Greet??? lol awesome. These are going on my list of “why I’m not a licensed Realtor” LOL Good stuff!

  3. Gwen Banta

    May 8, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Thank you, Paula – I hope I can keep you laughing for a long, long time!

  4. Gwen Banta

    May 8, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Now don’t limit yourself, Lani – you can give a “Butt Greet” to almost anyone, you cheeky li’l thing!

  5. Shannon Ware

    May 8, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    OMG, every time you post one of these I blow coffee through my nose on to the keyboard. I can’t afford the cleaning bills! BTW I am unofficially syndicating you by printing these out and and sharing with my mom and her circle of friends. You have quite an underground fan club!

  6. Gwen Banta

    May 11, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Shannon, That is the best visual I’ve had in months!!! Thanks for making ME laugh. Tell your mom and her friends I appreciate their support, too. I’ll try to keep ’em coming just for you.

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