All the world’s a stage; and people are but stagers

by viv sade

I find it particularly interesting that real estate agents are now “staging” houses to more quickly sell homes and to increase the marketing appeal of the houses for sale.

Staging homes involves anything from removing evidence of the current occupants — i.e.: the owner’s belongings or “stuff” — to temporarily replacing the furnishings to light remodeling.

The idea is to make the home look like a space that belongs to the strangers looking at it — which it does not — and not a space that belongs to someone else — which it does.

This is a fairly new concept, which is odd since I have been staging perceptions for most of my life.

I have often staged housework.

Sometimes the author ‘stages’ her dancing abilities.

For years, when company was coming over and there was no time to vacuum, I would take out the sweeper and leave it in a conspicuous and prominent spot — maybe just inside the front door where they would have to step or fall over it to get into the front room — leading people to believe that they had interrupted me while in the midst of sweeping.

I would sometimes spray water on my face to feign perspiration before opening the front door.

“Oh my, I wasn’t expecting you so early,” I would say while holding the vacuum handle and wiping the mock sweat from my brow.

The sweeper would sometimes remain in the same location for a week or two until I got tired of tripping over it and would toss it in the closet, having never turned it on.

When seeing someone unexpectedly pull into the driveway, I have been known to do what I called a Whirlwind Clean — now known as staging — by throwing dirty dishes and silverware in the oven, leftover take-out pizza in the dryer, dirty clothes in closets, toys under a bed, coats, jackets and shoes behind a shower curtain, cats and dogs in the basement and annoying children out the back door.

This usually worked, except for the time my mother-in-law came over and brought a pie that she insisted on warming in the oven. Before I could stop her, she turned the oven on, causing me to leap over a kitchen chair and practically knock the frightened woman off her feet to shut it off. It also forced an awkward confession: the oven was crammed full of dirty dishes, some of them plastic.

When I was a young girl, I would often stage elaborate scenes to ward off the wrath of my parents.

I was once (OK, more than once) picking on my brother, Bob, who was 18 months younger than me, when I saw Dad coming in the back door. I quickly turned over a footstool and threw myself on the floor, wailing that Bob had kicked me.

Bob got into serious trouble and yes, I did feel bad — not bad enough to confess the truth, but bad nonetheless. And, I take full responsibility for any distrust my brothers have had of women in general during their lifetimes.

I have staged exercising. I currently have two large drawers full of like-new workout clothes. This may be the biggest ruse of all.

Sometimes I like to venture out of my comfort zone — i.e.: flannel pajama bottoms and a t-shirt — and wear a Nike dri-fit tank top with capris in a breathable fabric that “wicks” the sweat away from my body – which could be any kind of fabric since I never sweat from exertion, only from senseless worrying, which is always done while lying in bed, wide-eyed at 3 a.m., stressing about the fluid levels in my car or whether or not Homeland Security has squandered its budget.

If I was going to the grocery store or meeting a friend for coffee, I added an Under Armour jacket, New Balance running shoes, a sweat-wicking stretchy headband and Cosmos terry cloth wristbands to catch the faux sweat that I would carefully mist over my face and upper body before I left the house.

Strangers thought I had just finished a 5K. People who knew me thought I had cleaned up at the garage sale of a recently retired triathlete who had just finished the Ironman in Buenos Aires.

I always felt healthier and more fit even though I had done nothing but simply dress the part. Funny how the mind works even when the body doesn’t.

Viv has been writing a column since 1989 and has been staging her writing abilities even longer. Reach her at

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