It’s Tuesday morning and I’m at Bank of America. The purpose of my visit is to close out my account and transfer the funds into my Wells Fargo account so that I can draw a cashier’s check for the down payment on my house.
There’s a problem though. Two problems actually: a pair of handsome, clean cut, suit-wearing customer service reps. And they want me to get a credit card.
I have successfully avoided the lure of plastic for 28 years. The only reason I finally broke down last summer and applied for a single, solitary Discover card was because my then-boyfriend informed me that a lack of debt does not necessarily equal good credit. And that even though I had paid all of my student loans, I didn’t have any “revolving debt” and that banks like to see the payment of “revolving debt” when granting a mortgage. So I got a card, charged a few purchases and a few months later, I had near perfect credit.
The problem with near perfect credit though, is that everyone wants a piece of the action. Even Bank of America. Even when you are closing your account in order to buy a house. And to sweeten the deal, they offer all sorts of things like 5% cash back on gas and a $150 bonus just in time for Christmas if you spend $500 in your first three months (“Which you’re definitely going to do since you’ll need new furniture now”).
So I said yes. I am no match for handsome, clean cut, suit-wearing customer service reps. Not when there are two of them. Not when they’re offering cash back.
Credit cards, however, require credit checks. And credit checks 48 hours before you’re set to close on a house are, well, not terribly desirable.
On Wednesday morning, my loan officer’s secretary called me in a panic. “What IS GOING ON??? What are all of these credit checks? Did you like apply for a credit card or something???”
A credit card?
Like a Bank of America credit card?
Like the exact sort of thing you’re not supposed to do right before you buy a house?
I was too afraid to admit my mistake over the phone so I agreed to write a “LOE” and email it over. (“LOE” by the way, stands for “letter of explanation.” I’ve had to write about six dozen of these over the past few months. I’ve gotten quite skilled.)
I was also too afraid to tell my realtor. Ditto my parents. So I texted The European instead to confess my complete-and-utter idiocy and headed up to north Philly for a private lesson with one of my favorite students.
“Do you like to bake?” her mother asked me at the end of the session. “I have a pizza stone that I never use. It’s Pampered Chef. I’ll bring it for you.”
“That would be great!” I replied. Great if I actually close on my house sometime this century and am not banished to the land of credit card imbeciles.
I tell myself that someday this will be funny. Someday I’ll look back and say, “Remember when I bought my first house and accidentally applied for a credit card two days before closing??? HAHAHAHAH!” Someday…
But the next morning I find myself at the table. The special table in the conference room at my realtor’s office. And paperwork is being signed. My mother is at the far end of the room as far away from my loan officer as possible. My father is next to me reviewing the documents as I sign them. My realtor is cracking jokes and pouring coffee and the seller, a super sweet grandmother en route to New Jersey, is seated across from me. She offers me her parking permit until I can get one of my own and tells me her granddaughter is a tap dancer. I promise to take care of the flowers in the front of the house and thank her for leaving the little shelf in the bathroom that is the perfect color and the perfect size that secretly I’d been hoping she’d leave all along…
And then there are the keys.
And then they are mine. Credit card mishaps notwithstanding.
It is simultaneously the most terrifying moment of my life thus far and the happiest, as all important moments should be.