The Housesitter

by Nic Olson

The couple’s great aunt’s cat is at the vet for depression treatment so she just won’t be able to make it this week. The couple’s trip can’t be postponed. They try to think of anyone, anyone at all, who might be free and able to water their plants, feed their dogs, shovel their walk, get their mail. They’ve heard from a friend of a friend about a professional housesitter that does it for nothing more than their week-old groceries.

(Queue quirky music, video clips of a man using a blender with no lid, dogs eating chocolate and shitting on the new couch, the door wide open at 2am at night, the security alarm blaring at noon on a Tuesday.)

You’ll never want to leave the house again, for fear of THE HOUSESITTER.

Despite the horrific nature of that tagline, this film would be a comedy, not unlike the 1992 film featuring Steve Martin and the lovely Goldie Hawn, except when I walk around topless in the movie I don’t excite a nation of men. Or perhaps I do, who knows.

For reasons that I can only hypothesize, I have become the city’s most reliable housesitter. I’ve looked after peoples’ dogs  and cats, spider plants and snowy driveways, sump pumps and furnances for a better part of the past year, and though I am a responsible young man, I believe I am the primary choice because I am the only single person left in this town. Being twenty-five in a conservative location means your peers have been married since before you started your first real relationship, one at which you failed miserably. It means that when you crave to go for a beer on a Monday night to engage in social activity and to vent about the health inspector at work and about how demoralizing it is routinely dealing with rejection, you drink one alone while thinking about your one true love; your job. It means a pathetic existence.

My housesitting record allows for a psychologists dream, something out of another horror movie, where the housesitter walks around and pretends to live the lives of the vacant homeowners; happy and in love, with several dogs and nice things. Dressing up in the homeowners’ clothing and reenacting family suppers. It allows for me to get out of the muck and mire of single living to pretend I am a contributing member of society and not just an angry hypocrite. Mostly it allows me convenient and unending connection to the internet.

I’ve been housesitting for a day and already set off the security system. Today got a call from a friend out of town. He needs a place to stay. Last time he needed a place to stay, I was housesitting somewhere else. For the same reasons that I have become Regina’s Goldie Hawn, I become the default host for out-of-town guests. Though it may be denied by most married folk, something changes when they have a permanent, sexually-intimate, bound-by-law roommate; you just can’t crash there on a random weekend anymore. You can’t just drop in unannounced. The couch, now immaculately set and freshly scented, just isn’t for wayward, unshowered guests anymore, unless of course, those guests are housesitting for you. 

I could easily start a business of this. My entreprenurial side is just twitching with ideas, and these ideas do not stop at a professional and licensed housesitting service. Selling security codes and keys to local organized robbers. Publishing embarrassing information about people in the form of a coffee-table-book, like how long they’ve had cottage cheese in their freezer (over a year!). Selling used, and dirty, undergarments on the internet (there is a market for this). Sub-letting rooms for events such as Grey Cup. Selling pets to underground foreign food-markets and telling the owners that they ran away. Using their internet to download and record bootlegged versions of 1980’s movies, such as HouseSitter, and selling them out of the back alley garage. The possibilities are endless.

I love both hosting and housesitting but I am beginning to feel like I’m getting played. I live a pathetic life on purpose, for the most part, and housesitting is only making my pitiful existence wildly evident, and thusly, painful. This post, if anything, will scare the dozens of polite folk who have had me into their home into never asking me to look after their things again, despite my exceptional record and responsible demeanour. 

They just don’t like it if you talk about their undergarments.