Mantel of Chateau Strawberry (minus pictures of nieces and nephews). Sally painted all three pictures.
“There’s a bed in your living room,” I said.
“It’s a broken futon,” 24-year-old Fred told me. “My friends, Tanya and Jim, spent the night, and they broke it.”
I looked past the broken futon to the adjoining room. “Is that a dance floor?” The carpet gave way to hardwood in a vacant room. I was hoping there was another explanation.
Brown-haired, brown-eyed, adorable Fred proudly led to me to that side of the open room. “Yes, and this is the DJ booth. See the LED lights in the ceiling fan? They change colors.”
I tried to admire the setup. A string of plastic LED lights were attached to the baseboards. The DJ booth had complicated-looking equipment in it. Black curtains covered the windows. “You must have parties here often?” I asked.
“Ya. Used to be every weekend, but I dunno, got kinda old,” he answered.
The next room was the kitchen. Dirty dishes covered every available surface. I didn’t know what to say.
“Roommates,” Fred said, rolling his eyes.
“You could have told them that I was coming over; that would have given them a reason to clean up,” I said.
“We did clean up!” Fred said, sounding upset.
“Ah, you must’ve cleaned up the beer bottles from the floor so that I could walk in here!” I said, joking. Then I glanced toward the trash can, which was overflowing with cans and bottles.
“Yes, we did!” Fred said proudly.
I groaned internally. I knew that dating a younger man would be interesting, but Fred had said that he owned his own house. He had talked about all the renovations he was going to do. He was a software engineer, so he had the money to make it happen. He seemed to have his stuff together.
Prior to visiting his abode, I didn’t know that he had roommates and lived in a Frat House. Later, when I went to bathroom, I wondered if the toilet had ever been cleaned. Fred’s bedroom was disappointing, too: a mattress tossed on the floor, a full-length mirror that leaned against the wall, and cardboard drawers. I’ve seen dorm rooms with better furniture.
One of Fred’s roommates came and sat on the couch to watch the movie with us. I hope I was wrong, but he seemed to be flirting with me.
The year was 2012, and I had to break up with Fred shortly after that visit. I had thought that I was dating a mature adult. Turns out, no, I was dating a boy who happened to have a really good job (and two roommates).
I’m writing this in response to an email sent to me this week:
What do you (or other girls) look for when you visit a guy’s apartment/house for the first time? Aside from general cleanliness (duh!), are there other things that are important? Are there “signals” that warn you about a guy’s personality? Is it acceptable for a single, straight guy to have scented candles? At what age should I take down my Gene Simmons poster?
(I’ve been told that my previous apartment looked “like a giant dorm room”. Which I’m okay with. I guess that’s my decorating style.)
Well, Rick, a futon is red flag number 1. Futons were cool when we were in college: part couch! Part bed! Very cheap! But as an adult, get a couch. If you want it to double as a bed, get a sleeper sofa.
Posters can be chic and cool if they’re framed properly. Posters attached to the wall with push pins or sticky tack: no. Just, no. If you must keep it, I suggest putting it on the wall of your closet. Behind your clothes. That’s where Elizabeth lets Daniel keeps his Battlestar Gallactica posters. Daniel gets to keep his posters and Elizabeth gets to decorate the rest of the house: everyone wins.
One of the Mikes had his old Star Wars toys in his living room, next to his X-Box and other game systems. He also had an electrical engineering lab and a terrarium. Because of the eclectic mix, the toys were forgivable. If he had decorated with back-to-back toys, I would have worried about him. But knowing that he was a bachelor who appreciated his classic toy collection and kept busy doing adult things, I felt that his house was just nerd heaven. Cool in its own way, like the owner.
Scented candles are fine. I know more than one guy that burned incense to get rid of the bachelor smell (which usually smells like gym socks). Go with a masculine color like burgundy (dark red) or blue. Pink or purple might send the wrong signal; but more men are wearing those colors these days, so pick what you like.
In general, I think your living space says as much about you as your car: the old, broken down ones say that you don’t have much money. The sleek, brand new, expensive ones say that you have a lot of money. Dirty ones say that you don’t take care of your stuff; either you’re lazy or busy or both. Clean ones say that you take care of yourself and you spend time caring for your things.
Artwork says a lot about the person. If there’s no art, the person is less creative. If there’s a lot of art, he’s very creative. The type of art is telling, too: is it of dead bodies or flowers? My artwork, for example, is of strawberries, bluebonnets, constellations, and rustic scenes. My couches are royal purple leather. Can you tell what I like? Eating strawberries, the color purple, hiking, and stargazing. You don’t need to be a professor of psychology to make those observations ; – )
My place has lots of books, too; there are some in almost every room. That should tell you that I’m a scholar. If you look at the titles, you’ll find titles from chick lit, science fiction, fantasy, religion, physics, and more. That says that I’m well-rounded. If it was all voodoo or murder mysteries, you might have a different opinion of me.
Pictures of my children, nieces, and nephews sit on my mantle, which is the place of honor in a home. Family is supremely important to me. Men in general have less pictures of family framed, so I won’t judge you too much for having less than me. However, the day that I saw that my boyfriend had framed pictures of his daughters in the living room, was the day that I fell a little more for him. (That’s the Costa Rica guy; he did some things right.)
Another guy had a hornets nest on his front porch, which he had watched grow for weeks. He knew it was there and he also knew that I was coming over for dinner that night. The fact that he didn’t spray the nest or FREAKING WARN ME said a lot about the guy: he procrastinates and won’t protect me. (I didn’t get stung, just a little freaked out.) He also had a half-finished back deck. Turns out, he spent more time playing video games or out on the lake than taking care of important matters. We didn’t date very long. Oh, and that was another Mike, BTW.
Yet another gentleman had piles of junk mail, dust on every surface, and clean laundry in the laundry basket in his living room. Most people shove this stuff in the closet when they have guests coming over. He managed to clean the kitchen and that was it. His diagnosis was severe bipolar with persistent depression (more down than up). As previously discussed, I have friends and relatives with depression: I get it. I do. He was a nice guy in general, but his place was filthy. On New Year’s, he grilled steaks on the back deck. It was a big wooden deck with rotten wood. I say, “rotten,” because I fell through it. The bruises and scrapes on my hips were nasty! Kinda put a damper on our romantic evening.
Rick, I hope that gives you a feel for the kind of things that I look for, when I visit a person’s home. Thanks for the question.
And if you want to get rid of your old futon, just leave it in an apartment complex parking lot or in front of the dorms with a note that says, “Free, Take Me.” Some college student or Frat House will be very grateful.
I wonder what the Professor’s house looks like. I imagine a large library, bright colors and/or shells (he lived in Hawaii for years), and a piano (his daughter takes lessons). I can’t imagine a dance floor with a DJ booth; just doesn’t seem like his style!
But who knows—people surprise me sometimes!
I’m posting this early, because I’m meeting the Professor at the Jazz Fest this afternoon. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow!