On Sunday, a trio of signs appeared on the perfectly manicured lawn in front of the oldest home in Coral Gables, Florida, that appeared to crystalize everything wrong with this year’s election. Sandwiched between campaign signs for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, a third sign spelled out “DIVORCE SALE” in menacing black letters. It implied that a couple had let politics break up their marriage.
Hundreds of cars and joggers passed by 6810 Maynada Street and paused to take a photo. Not even love, it seemed, could triumph over 2016’s divisive, high-strung political climate. The metaphor was perfectly packaged for viral success, a poignant, Instragrammable scene that captured the decay of American political discourse. Online, of course, the image spread.
But there is good news, dear reader: You’ve been trolled.
Peter and Kathleen Zorn, the owners of 6810 Maynada Street, are trying to sell their home. But they are not getting a divorce. On the contrary, the sign is a strangely fitting symbol of their love. Kathleen, a 65-year-old retired lawyer and real estate agent, is in fact a Republican. And Peter, a 77-year-old graphic designer, is a Democrat. But their political differences are something they find humor in, rather than tension.
“We have the same sense of humor and the same sense of fun,” Kathleen told me. “What makes this a strong marriage is that we both thought it would be funny to poke fun at our different political beliefs.”
The couple thinks that the rest of us are taking ourselves a little too seriously, and the signs are meant to encourage us all to lighten up.
“We didn’t do this to weigh into political turmoil,” she said. “This election has been so tense for everybody, and we did this hoping people would drive by and smile.”
Also, they are hoping that viral success might help them sell their house.
The Zorns’ home is a two-story, three-bedroom house built in 1899. It’s the oldest home in Coral Gables, and a registered landmark, which has made it very hard to sell because historical homes typically have very strict rules about what you can and can’t change.
Peter bought the house in 1977. The couple met 30 years ago, when Peter was married to someone else and Kathleen was dating his friend. But they wouldn’t get together for another 15 years, when Kathleen asked him to do some graphic design work for a sign at her real estate office. Peter did the work, but instead of Kathleen paying him for it, they went on a date instead. They first listed the home on the market six years ago, as they were getting older and finding that a big house required too much maintenance.
“He is my first husband, or, as I like to say, ‘He is my first husband, and I am his last wife,” Kathleen said. “We have been married 12 years, and trying to unload this house for half of it.”
Since erecting their Trump-Clinton divorce hoax, Kathleen said some 200 people have driven by and taken photos. Not all of the attention has been from people who find their display amusing.
“Many of our friends have emailed us and said, ‘Who’s the idiot voting for Trump?,” Kathleen said. “But for us, this isn’t about the politics. It’s about having some fun with all this.”
The hardest part of being married to a Democrat, Kathleen said, isn’t the political differences—it’s the amount of robocalls you get when registered to different political parties.
“We are the James Carville and Mary Matalin of Maynada Street,” Kathleen said.
Love, it turns out, can triumph over politics after all.