My wife likes to look at houses. Not in the way a normal person does, by accidently driving past and saying, “Hey, cool place. I wonder if it’s haunted.” She sits in bed staring at our laptop and clickity-clicks all over the country, getting detailed information on homes we’ll never live in.

I don’t think this is normal.

“What are you doing?” I asked, although we’ve been married nearly 18 years and I should know better. That question never leads to a scenario that leaves me enjoying the conversation.

“Looking at houses,” she said.

Uh, OK. I glanced at the screen.

“But, that’s in Florida.”

We have never once discussed moving to Florida or, in fact, visiting. It’s too dangerous. Florida is home to alligators, bears, panthers, fire ants, wild herpes-infected monkeys and Floridians. Oh, and the humidity’s awful. The worst our home state has to offer are slow-moving farm vehicles and “People of Walmart.”

“I’m just looking.”

Just looking. The last time she said that we came home with a dog.

“At what?” So, I sat to look too. When Michael Corleone said, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” in “The Godfather: Part II,” he left out how close you should keep your wife while she shops for houses in Florida. Thanks for nothing, Michael.

“We’re not moving to Florida,” I told her. “Too many cockroaches.”

She nodded. “Uh-huh.”

“There are seven species, you know,” I continued. “One can fly.”

She nodded again. “Sure.”

“I saw this movie once with mutant cockroaches from the inner earth. They flew. They also set fires with their butts,” I said. “And they could spell —in English. Sure sounds like a Florida headline to me. Except for the spelling.”

“OK,” she said, pointing to the screen. “This house is cute.”

She was right, it was cute, but holy moly.

“We can’t afford that.”

She frowned. “I know. That’s not the point.”


“Stop it.”

Then she clickity-clicked again. “How about Tempe?”

“Tempe?” Now she’s talking. “You mean in Greece? Near Mount Olympus? Great.”

My wife frowned. She does that to me quite a lot. I’m not sure why.



Apparently, today’s venture into the seedy world of internet real estate was the result of looking at an article promising the best places to retire in America. Places like Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania?

That’s where vampires live.

The list included Kansas City, Missouri. I grew up and lived in and around Kansas City all my life and now it’s an option for retirement? I was hoping for something with more mountains and fewer people, like Wyoming. The entire state has a population of 586,107. We’d never have to see anybody.

“I don’t think you should gloss over Greece so quickly,” I said. “They have centaurs.”

Her frown deepened. “You’re taking the fun out of this,” she said. “Let me look alone.”

I took the fun out of it? Mission accomplished. Florida is out.

Jason Offutt’s upcoming novel, “So You Had to Build a Time Machine,” is available for preorder at