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Cathy Free: Just a little bit desperate on Wisteria Way

WEST JORDAN — Nobody is sleeping with the lawn mower guy, and as far as anybody knows, there haven't been any murders or any neighbors who have been locked out of the house, naked.

Still, there is a good-looking handyman named Mike who has been known to wash his truck with his shirt off.

"He's cute, he's buff and he can fix anything," says Dana Grandy, who lives next door to Mike Nelson. "He's one of the reasons that living on this street is so awesome."

Welcome to Wisteria Way, where the biggest scandal is finding weeds in the neighbor's backyard and the biggest gossip is what newcomers from California paid for their two-story homes.

You won't find many deep, dark secrets on this quiet West Jordan street, but you will find a few desperate housewives.

Although they don't have much in common with their glamorous counterparts who live on Wisteria Lane in television's hit show, "Desperate Housewives" — "We can get pretty desperate every day at about 3:30, when the kids come home (from school)," says homemaker Kristine Robinson, 30.

Kristine used to hear "Mrs. Robinson" jokes, but for the past year, store clerks and friends have asked, "Which 'Housewife' are you?

"They see that I live on Wisteria Way and they're jealous," she says. "I love the show — I watch it every week. But life around here isn't nearly as exciting."

Eager to share the real story about life on Wisteria Way, Kristine and several of her "desperate" neighbors recently joined me for a Free Lunch of takeout pizza at Kristy Ziolkowski's house at the west end of the street.

Wisteria Way is about as far as you can go in this suburb before running into one of Salt Lake County's last stretches of farmland.

"The biggest scoop lately is that they are talking about putting a Target store in," says Kristy, 39, a mother of four. "Naturally, we're all thrilled. There aren't many places out here to shop."

Instead, "We spend a lot of time talking to other moms and going out to lunch," adds Casey England, 25, who has an 18-month-old son. "But I can't say that I've uncovered any secrets."

Unlike some of their neighbors, Casey and Kristy don't tune in to "Desperate Housewives" every Sunday. With four kids (just like Felicity Huffman's frazzled character, Lynette), Kristy is too busy helping with homework and music lessons to wonder whether Susan (Teri Hatcher) will marry Mike the plumber, or whether Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) is expecting a baby fathered by her husband or the hunk who trims her lawn.

She and other women on Wisteria Way don't relate to many of the show's characters, particularly Gabrielle and Bree (Marcia Cross), whose cupboards full of neatly arranged Tupperware put Martha Stewart to shame.

"My house sure doesn't look like that," says Dana, a mother of four — "if you count the one I'm married to," who also works full-time at LDS Hospital. Desperate for a housekeeper, "I'm lucky when I come home if the house is still standing."

The day before our pizza get-together, Dana had her own prime-time drama when her 10-year-old son, Cache, flipped over the handlebars of his bike and had to be flown by helicopter to the hospital, with a concussion.

"We had police cars out here, a fire truck, paramedics and everybody in the neighborhood," she says. "It's probably the biggest thing to happen on Wisteria, ever."

Thankfully, Cache is doing fine now and Dana is wondering what the next big event will be on Wisteria Way.

"I'm about to put my landscaping in," she says. "Who knows? Maybe we'll dig up a dead body."


Have a story? Let's hear it over lunch. E-mail your name, phone number and what you'd like to talk about to freelunch@desnews.com. You can also write me at the Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.