Larry Doyle


This morning before work, Becky and I bought a house.

It was the house we decided to buy when we had been in Los Angeles only four days, when I had no guarantee of more than 10 weeks’ work, because–well, as many people have pointed out since then, because there must be something wrong with us. But we did not really buy our dream home back then, nine weeks ago when we were just giddy house hunters in love. We did not really buy this residence and the property upon which it is situated until 8:45 a.m. March 18, 1997, when we soberly signed a bunch of official-looking papers, were fingerprinted, and handed over enough money to fill a very large suitcase if it had been in small, unmarked bills instead of a wire transfer.

There were so many pieces of paper to sign, including: a document claiming that if there were any typos on any of the other documents, we would sign them all again; a document verifying that the names we were signing were actually our names; and a document swearing that we weren’t lying when we signed any of the other documents. I’m sure most people read these things before signing them, but many were very long and not terribly interesting, so I just skimmed for the yellow highlighted areas and scribbled my name all over the place.

Our new house, tucked just up in the Hollywood Hills, cost more than 17 times what my father paid for the house I grew up in, which as I remember it was 30 times the size. This is a cute little house, as Becky likes to say, which gets littler every time we see it without getting any cuter. The house also seems to get more expensive, every time Becky sees it.

As it is, we will be paying for it until May 1, 2027, when I will be 68.

We are getting the keys on Friday, and moving in probably next Tuesday. (If the mover gives us our stuff; we are having a little disagreement about whether providing a guaranteed estimate in writing means you have to do the job for that much or that you can charge whatever you want.) Then we will be officially living next door to a celebrity.

In Los Angeles, everybody gets celebrity neighbors. Before we bought the house next to our celebrity, we were shown houses next door to k.d. lang, Linda Hunt, and Melanie Mayron, of TV’s thirtysomething (she was the neurotic one). We saw only two houses not next door to celebrities, and they were pretty crappy.

Oddly, we were not told we would be living next door to a celebrity until after we had already decided to buy. “You live next door to a celebrity,” our agent said, offhandedly, as we were giving the house a final once-over. He couldn’t remember the name of our celebrity, so he called the office. “What was the name of that celebrity living next door to this house?” he asked. “Oh. Of course.”

He hung up the phone. “Sofia Coppola,” he said.

We have yet to meet Sofia Coppola, but we have played with her cat, who was quite friendly if a little too free with the claws.

I almost forgot: Clark Gable once lived on our street, but he’s dead now.

* * * * * *

I told the guys at work I bought a house today.

“Congratulations,” one of them said. “You’re fired.”

Every day at The Simpsons is one laugh after another.

One writer then asked me where I was living now. I said at the Wilshire Villa, a temporary month-to-month residence in Westwood.

“Bill Dana lives in that building.”

You may remember him as Jose Jimenez, from the old Steve AllenShow.