Open House, Open Heart
by Kate Willoughby
Isn’t it funny how things work out sometimes? It all started when my husband and I decided to sell the house and find something smaller—less yard to take care of, less house to keep clean, etc. My daughter, Emily, came at my request to go through her old stuff and decide what she wanted to keep. I was thumbing through some sheet music when I heard Emily heave a sigh.
“What’s up, Em?” I asked.
She smiled and held up an old playbill from a production of Hamlet. “This little pamphlet embodies all the unspoken yearning of a young teenage girl.”
“Aren’t all teenagers young?” I asked.
Emily laughed. “You know what I mean.”
“What were you longing for? A life on the stage?” I felt a twinge of motherly guilt. Had Emily harbored a secret yearning to perform that I had failed to nurture and encourage? I had always thought she was happy being a caterer, especially now that she was starting her own business.
“Me?” she asked grinning. “Heck no. I couldn’t act my way out of a paper bag. No, it was a boy I wanted. John Davis. My English Lit teacher took the class on a field trip to see Shakespeare. John was sitting in front of me and I didn’t see that play at all. All I saw was him.” She chuckled. “Well, the back of his head, at least.”
“You’re never going to believe this,” I said, “but he’s our real estate agent.”
Emily’s eyes widened. “What?”
“Yes. And he’s single,” I added. “Want me to—”
“No!” she blurted, her cheeks turning red. “Don’t you dare play matchmaker, Mom. Promise me.”
The next day, John and I discussed the particulars of our first open house.
“I like to provide some sort of refreshment for the potential buyers, usually donuts and coffee,” he said. “But to tell you the truth, I’m getting tired of the donuts.”
“You know,” I found myself saying, even though I knew Emily might kill me, “my daughter is a caterer and her mini scones and muffins are out of this world and a step above donuts if I do say so myself. She’s just starting out on her own after five years working for someone else, and if she could display some of her brochures, it would be great advertising for her.”
“I think my mouth is watering already,” John said, grinning.
When I called Emily to arrange it, she accused me of going back on my promise, but I insisted I hadn’t. “I swear it was all business. For all he knows, you’re married with six kids and a parakeet,” I said. “Just think of it as networking.”
The day of the open house, John seemed happy with how everything looked and the table I’d set up in the entry. He placed the flyers outlining the features of the house there, along with a stack of his business cards and a sign-in sheet. Em walked in not five minutes later with a big pink pastry box filled with goodies. She looked wonderful in a tasteful business suit. I could tell she’d taken extra care with her appearance.
He greeted her with a wide smile. “Emily, I don’t know if you remember me, but we took English Lit together. John Davis.” They shook hands. “I realized who you were from the family portrait in the living room.”
“Of course I remember you,” she replied smoothly, as if she hadn’t memorized the back of his head eight years ago.
I forced myself to mumble something about making coffee and left the room. It was torture, I tell you, pure torture not to listen in.
They didn’t even notice me when I brought the first pot of coffee to fill the huge dispenser John had brought. I caught snippets of their conversation and it sounded like they were catching up. By the time I poured the second pot in, he was listening to her talk about her catering business, which I took as a good sign. A good husband knows how to listen. Before I could bring out the third pot, Em scurried into the kitchen.
“Mom! You’ll never guess what happened.” Excitement sparkled in her eyes. “John loves my scones so much that he wants me to provide them for all his open houses from now on.”
“Em, that’s wonderful!”
We did end up getting a couple of offers on the house that day, which made my husband happy. He hoped to make a nice profit, but I had my heart set on a new son-in-law. And you know what? A year later, that’s exactly what I got.