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The lender ...


The mortgage lender was a tall, thin guy who looked younger than me.

This disturbed me.

I entered his office, which he told me was not his usual place of business. Even so, this room was beyond bare. It was a square, anonymous room in a small anonymous mezzanine level of a bank whose name sounds like every other bank you could possibly do business with. The walls, bare. The desktop, Spartan. There wasn't even a computer -- it was a laptop connected by some wires to a microscopic desk that look as if it had half of its wood amputated in some bizarre case of wood-diabetes. I knew, in my brain, that this wasn't a fly-by-night operation. This was the large, downtown offices of one of the largest banks in the country. But it was impersonal to an absurd degree. If Stanley Kubrick were alive and in this office, he would have shouted at the guy: "For God's sake, man, get some toys or something in here!"

This was the guy who was going to help me buy a home.

Loan Man: So. How can I help you today?

Omar: I want to buy a house.

Loan Man: Great. We'll just need a small blood transfusion to get us started.

Omar: What?

Loan Man: Just a little loan humor.

We discussed my financial situation a little. He'd asked me to bring about a dozen different documents with me: My last two years' W2 forms. My quarterly 401(k) statement. A month of pay stubs. Bank statements. Employment/housing history. $75 to cover the credit check.

And then the number crunching began.

He may look like a loan lender or realtor, but he's really a Supermodel with money hunger.

The way it works is this: They take all that information, how much you get paid, what you owe on your credit cards, how much you pay a month for various things (your car, narcotics, in my case candy consumption) and then figure out how much money they're willing to trust you with on a house loan for the next 30 years.

Think about that for a minute. A total stranger comes up to you on the street. Asks to borrow $100. You have to figure out whether this person is trustworthy enough to lend that money to and pay it back to you in small installments over the next two years. Could you do it?

My mortgage loan man put everything into an intimidating oversized manilla folder. He typed in a bunch of figures into his lonely laptop. He unhooked the cables from it, ran the laptop to another room and hooked it up to a waiting printer that spat out a list of figures.

Loan Man: So, this gives us a little insight into your situation.

Omar: I have a "situation?"

Loan Man: These are just numbers for us to play with to give you an idea of what your monthly mortgage payment would be and how much interest you'd be paying.

Omar: Those numbers are awfully big.

Loan Man: I can make the font smaller if you like.

Omar: That's not what I --

Loan Man: I know, I know. Just a little loan humor. Sorry about that.

The numbers list is scary because it lulls you into a false sense of knowing exactly what you're getting into. "Recording fees." "Home insurance." "Flood insurance." It all sounds like things that make a lot of sense and that by all means you should be charged for. I'm buying a house. Of course I want somebody to record that. By all means, record the transaction! I want everything above the board and on the up and up!

But the truth is, they don't answer all your question. You tell them you want to lock in the interest rate because it's really low right now and you're afraid it will go up and they play dumb and act like you're blowing their mind.

Omar: So if I pay $400, I can make it so that I get the lower of today's mortgage interest rate or the interest rate when I have a contract on the house, right?

Loan Man: Well... I mean... you could do that.

Omar: And if I don't find a place by then, I get the money back, right? And if do find a place, it goes toward the closing costs. So there's nothing to lose right?

Loan Man: Yes, but...

Omar: So why shouldn't I do that?

Loan Man: Well, there are advantages to that, yes, so...

Omar: Yeah, so let's do it. Why not?

Loan Man: Well... because... um. I've forgotten what "interest rate" means.


I started to feel really proud of myself for being all savvy about the interest rate, but then Loan Man blew my mind with talk about discount points and how the principal and interest will change over time and, good god, he started talking about ESCROW and my mind, previously a steel trap, turned into an oatmeal twine. And after a while, I just got loopy and punchdrunk, and I think they cut the oxygen supply short through those air vents because...

Loan Man: So, Mr. G. What have we agreed to today?

Omar: I give you lots of money. For 30 years. More money than could possibly ever equate to the actual cost of any house I buy. I pay many fees completely unrelated to buying a house such as the "jockey fee" and the "lawn gnome installation fee" as per our agreement.

Loan Man: Very good. And when will you start paying us?

Omar: Right now when I empty my wallet on your desk. You also get to rent movies on my Blockbuster card and get my free smoothie from the Frequent Jamba Juice Drinker card I got punched nine times.

Loan Man: Right. Now sign here, please.

Omar: (scribble, scribble) Bluh... can I go home now?

Loan Man: What home? You just signed for us to repossess it. Ah ha hahahaha!


It is at this point that I wake up, in my own bed, in my duplex, in a cold sweat. It was all a dream.

Then I roll over, and there's Loan Man, holding the bloody contract, licking my empty wallet, screaming for more, more money, more cash!

It is then that I realize that signing a mortgage loan is like going on a date with a Supermodel who has relentlessly expensive tastes.

It is a date that lasts 30 years, or until you manage to pawn her off on some other poor, broke schmoe.



Recap of Episode 3 of Smallville is up.

I got a really rude e-mail about it early Saturday morning (just hours after it was posted) saying that my recaps are becoming one-note jokes, mostly because of the increasingly homoerotic content of the show. Well, far be it from me to disagree with criticism (actually, I sent a nasty note of my own back, but I'm an asshole that way), but you can judge for yourself.

The forums on MightyBigTV for the show, however, are crazy busy. Lots of messages. It's difficult to keep up with all the discussion there. Lots of talk about how attractive Lex is and how subtly gay the show is and about Superman's origins and all manner of things.

But I'm enjoying writing the recaps. So far, three episodes in, it looks like the show's going to be a success.



Real life update on my house buying: I put in a bid last week and it was accepted without any back-and-forth counteroffers. The inspection is Tuesday and so, by the end of the week, I should know for sure if I'll be a real homeowner by the end of the month.



This link is courtesy the funny and talented AB. I don't know what it is, but it's a universal truth that will echo in eternity: A cow doing Ti Chi is always going to be funny.


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