Y’all I have been in some pretty nice places before, but this weekend I saw the absolute fanciest house I have ever seen in my whole life.

Here’s the back story: I was in Louisville, Kentucky for a tennis tournament and while at one of the matches, my teammates and I made friends with some hometown folks. These people were extremely nice and generous. We all had a great time at the match and so afterward, they invited us to go to one of their houses to hang out.

My friends and I weren’t really entertaining the idea of going to a stranger’s house BUT then they mentioned that the host’s house was so big that it had a tennis court IN THE BASEMENT.

Now, as you can imagine, to us folks from Rome and Cartersville, a house so big it can have a tennis court inside it would be pretty impressive. So we decided to go see for ourselves.

It took us a while to find the place. We went to the wrong subdivision but let me tell you, even the wrong subdivision had the most massive houses I have ever seen. I’ve driven through some very fancy subdivisions in the Atlanta area but these houses were enormous. I used to live in Kentucky and I know there are some wealthy people in certain parts of the state but I’d never been up close to so many houses that on their own would be considered small castles.

As we drove by them, we couldn’t believe regular families lived in these mansions.

Anyhow, we finally get on the right track to the party house and it’s not in a subdivision. It’s on its own land. There’s a gate with a code and when we drive through the gates, we park where all the cars were and walk up to a large, beautiful building. It was big but not extraordinarily so. It had 3 garages and was very beautiful on the outside. There was a huge pool nearby and the landscaping was immaculate.

We followed the voices around back and found our new friends laughing and talking and listening to music. They were glad to see us and as my friends chatted with them about tennis and football and other topics, I asked the hostess if she could show me to the bathroom.

She led me inside and please believe me when I say this house looked like something out of a James Bond movie. Every room looked like it cost a million dollars to decorate. In my limited knowledge of decorating I could tell immediately that there were priceless antiques and works of art all around me. As I stopped to admire certain pieces she would casually mention that the heavily encased painting in the hallway was an original Klimt or that the marble statues and busts lining the hall were imported from Greece and the famous artist so-and-so painted the mural on the wall.

She took me to a room and said “this is the men’s bathroom.” I would later find out that the women’s bathroom was on the other side of the hall and looked like the lobby at a swanky hotel. Anyway, She left me there in this octagonal room and there were two doors in it. I opened each, only to find that they were closets. There were no other doors in the room.

At this point I thought “she brought me here to get murdered and this is what I get for wanting to see a fancy house with a tennis court in the basement.”

But then I realized that this really looked like some sort of waiting room....the type that would lead to another larger room. So I walked around this weird octagonal waiting room pressing against the walls and lo and behold, one of the wall panels moved under my touch to reveal a hidden room — the men’s bathroom. It was all solid marble in there and was so pristine that I was afraid to pee.

As I made my way back to the party, I tiptoed through several other rooms. I didn’t dare go upstairs since no one was around. But it seemed like I had been locked inside the Louvre, or some art museum in Europe where priceless art graced every wall. Even the rugs I was walking on with my dirty tennis shoes seemed like they were worth more than my car was. I was extremely uncomfortable and strange to say but I didn’t really want to be there.

I got back to my friends and we chatted some more with our hosts. They were nothing but gracious and friendly but I felt very out of place here.

I knew we were going to leave soon so I told the hostess that she had a beautiful home and that I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to the see the tennis court in the basement.

Y’all she gave me a quizzical look and then laughed and said “oh, no. This is the pool house. The tennis court is in the main house.”

THIS WASN’T EVEN THEIR ACTUAL HOUSE.

This massive, beautiful house with priceless art and antiques, a 3-car garage and hidden chambers was the dang POOL HOUSE.

Well that did it for me. I was ready to go. I was worried I’d break something or mess something up or that I would breach security in some way.

My friends and I said our goodbyes and we got in the car and I told them all I’d seen in the house.

Our hosts had been nothing but nice to us, but I was glad to leave that house. I joke about wanting to be fancy but let me tell y’all, I’d take my little 2-bedroom Celanese house over that mansion any day. There was nothing warm or comforting about it. It was much too big and much too well-appointed for me to be able to put my feet up on the coffee table and watch tv.

I guess it goes to show that a house ain’t always a home.

Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune

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