January 14th, 2009

house

This Has Been a Public Service Announcement

You guys, we need to talk.

Believe me: what I am about to say, I say out of love, a kind of all-encompassing, gentle, Kwan-Yin-type of love, out of wanting the best for you, wanting you to succeed in life. I'm not trying to be condescending, but when I see a problem played out over and over again, I feel compelled to try to help, I feel like I have a piece of information you don't, and I'm not a selfish girl; I want to share.

I'm talking to all my single male friends, especially if you are single, male, in your late twenties or early thirties, and a programmer, as that seems to be the direst demographic, the one most in need of a buxom, non-threatening, Kwan-Yin-type of love-intervention.

Please do not assume this is about you personally: every example I am about to give I have personally witnessed over a wide variety of circumstances and years. It's been bugging me forever, and I can no longer just stand by and do nothing.

So, you know, um...huddle up.

It's about your apartments.

Most of the single men I know want to have sex. I feel I have worded that as generally as I possibly can. Most of you would like to get laid sometime in this decade, by a real live human, no less. And you're hamstringing yourselves, and you don't even know it.

If you go on a date with a girl--and I'm gonna be heteronormative here, in part because it's not as much of an issue with young single gay men or young single women, and in part because I am rarely asked back to young single gay men's apartments at night. If you go on a date with a girl--a date you both know is a date, with a clear romantic goal--with a girl and she agrees to come back to your apartment, it's pretty safe to say that she has at least thought about some sort of sexual contact with you and decided that it's not a completely revolting concept. That does not mean you deserve or have a right to sex if she does agree to go back to your place. But it means you're doing well enough--congratulations!--that she has decided that not only are you not a horrendous, asexual gap-toothed troll, but someone with whom she feels safe enough to be alone. That ain't nothing, kids.

But this is a delicate moment for you, Single Male Programmer Type! It could turn into something wonderful, if you handle it right. And yet, so many of you stab yourselves in the head long before she can kindly turn you down and send you into a downward self-esteem spiral for days.

Imagine: a girl decides that this boy seems nice and funny and he definitely won't accost her, and maybe, just maybe...so she goes back to your apartment with you. And what does she see?

A lonely futon, a computer, clothes on the floor, empty walls, a console system with cords tangled all over the floor, a forlorn Settlers of Cataan box sitting on an otherwise empty bookshelf. A bathroom covered in little bits of hair left behind by an electric shaver, an unscrubbed bathtub, and no towel to dry her hands on. Oh god, it's so sad. It's like he's not even alive, just treading water until...what? His mother visits? A girl shows up who looks a lot like his mother? Is Settlers of Cataan the sole thing he cares enough about to own and display? SETTLERS of fucking CATAAN?

I'm not saying she's going to run screaming. Probably. But if this sounds like your apartment? Your "game" is missing some vital pieces. You've undone all the work you did being charming and funny over dinner in one fell swoop, the minute you open your apartment door. If you were very charming and funny the attack might not be fatal, (think of it like a points system: you have just so many charisma points, and your +6 Apartment of Anti-Sex Funk isn't doing you any favors)  but that's a big chance to take. It's like Mousetrap--no matter how cool the game is when you play it, the fact is that once you've lost the plastic diver-man, you're not going to be playing any time soon, and maybe never again.

These apartments break my heart. It's not about materialism--I don't care where the apartment is or what it says about your financial situation. I care about what it says about your soul. There is no reason, by your late twenties, you should be living like a dorm-room prisoner. You are a grown fucking man. It's not some kind of noble rejection of the material world to live in a cell with no indication of your personality or implication that you've lived there for longer than five minutes, or plan to be living there for another five. Your apartment speaks volumes about you, whether you like it or not, so stop hollering: I'M JUST WAITING AROUND FOR A WOMAN TO TEACH ME HOW TO LIVE! THAT'S HOT, RIGHT? RIGHT?

No, it's not. We do not want to be your mothers, to pick up after you and teach you how to make things pretty, or even just other-than-empty. It is not our jobs, and one of the sexiest things in the world is a guy who doesn't need to be taught. The two guys who were most successful with women in my college got together, rented an apartment, talked to all of their friends about what looks nice, and decorated their place impeccably. It was like a freaking conveyor belt of girls going in and out of that house. Girls looked around and thought: fucking in here is going to be awesome.

Because when a girl thinks about a hot one night stand, she doesn't fantasize about clearing your socks off the bed before slapping your ass and calling you pony-boy. She doesn't get off to thinking about staring at your depressing, empty gray walls while you sweat on top of her to the dulcet tones of Rush. It's not hot, it's just sad, and sad is the worst. After college, girls aren't looking to randomly fuck in some dingy-ass sad-sack flat and slink home because it smells too bad to stay over and the bathroom makes her die a little inside. You have got to do better than this, guys. I see it way too much, and the sameness of these pitiful dwellings kind of scares me. How do you do it? Is there a conference every year about how to furnish your apartment to repel all women?

Living well does not have to be gendered. Every guy I've ever lived with has been substantially happier living with me than alone, because I make a pretty house that is comfortable and sexy, and they don't know how to do that on their own. Which sucks, because it means all the work falls in my lap. But it doesn't have to be so.

So let's keep in mind a few simple rules, SMPTs.

1. Your apartment is a metaphor for your sexual style.


I'm reasonably sure that if a guy can't even manage to put up a comic strip or two on his walls and spends his days staring at the cottage-cheese ceiling surrounded by old tube socks, I'm not going to have some kind of amazing sexual dynamo on my hands once he gets his clothes off. It's going to be vaguely sad and kind of uncomfortable, and afterward I'm going to wish I hadn't and need to wash my hands. Outward envirnoment relfects inner states, and guys: empty is not hot.

I'm not saying you have to be an interior design mastermind, but get some goddamn pictures up on your walls (framed--it's easy and cheap and makes things look intentional), pick up the crap off the floor (especially if you know there's a good chance you'll have a girl at your house that night--who brings a girl home knowing there's old coffee filters and random pants lying about? What kind of romantic strategy is this?), get a nice bedspread in a neutral color if you can't get the whole color wheel thing down, organize your good quality books (commensurate with the kind of girl you want to attract--like geek girls? Make sure your SF novels are spine-out. It's always nice to have a few female writers in there. Like athletes? Make sure your workout books are nicely organized. I'm not saying buy books to impress, but if you have them, showcase them--for most thinking girls, books are like peacock feathers. They're a mating display.)

Buy all your towels in the same (dark) color--that way you don't have to worry about them matching anything, and they don't stain as easily. Being able to make a mean cup of coffee or tea for a girl is a vital survival trait. The more you can show a girl that you would be a net positive in her world, the hotter you become. Showing her that you were a complete person before she came along is nothing but glorious, and makes you look smooth and happy--whether you're looking for a girlfriend or a one night stand. It is fully 300% hotter to fuck a guy in a beautiful, urbane apartment and never see him again than to do it in a dreary post-collegiate hovel.

2. The bathroom is a metaphor for your penis.

I avoid going into guys' bathrooms. It's usually a horrorshow. I want to believe they're nice guys, and that is easier if I don't see their bathrooms.

The fact is, if you can't practice basic personal hygiene in your living space, I will have no expectation that you can practice it with your person. If there are shaving bits and clumps of hair all over the bathroom, a toilet that looks like it's never been cleaned, and a moldy shower curtain, it is highly unlikely that once your jeans have leapt excitedly onto your filthy floor, you will reveal a beautiful, clean, muck-free cock with well-trimmed hair and a friendly countenance. Not impossible, but unlikely.

Clean. the fucking. bathroom. If you know you're having a girl over, take an hour to give a crap how your place is going to look to her. Run a sponge over the surfaces, dump some CLR into the toilet, wait 30 seconds and flush, and throw a .59 air freshener in there. Total investment: 15 minutes. Value of a girl not thinking you are a barely-domesticated breed of exotic pig: priceless.

Level 2 activities include a mat on the floor, an opaque shower curtain free of mold around the edges, even a picture or two on the walls of the bathroom (I fully admit the pictures thing matters to me personally more than most: I find completely empty walls a shuddersome situation). Level 3, only for the advanced, includes all of the above plus a few items that indicate you don't think taking care of your body is "girly." Lotion, a nice shampoo (especially if these things are visible in your normal bathroom set up), even a dedicated face-wash, not just, you know, a sticky lump of old Dial. My ex-husband let his feet get so dry they cracked to the muscle rather than use "girly" lotions. This, my friends, is very diverse idiocy.

I don't want this to be gendered. I really don't. But I have never once seen a single woman's apartment look like this. Guys, we're living in the 21st century. You do not have to live in your high school bedroom until you're 35 and some girl heaves a sigh and does it for you. I cannot express how much that sucks, and how much it makes you look like an unnecessary second job for an already busy, productive girl. You gotta ante-up.

Want girls? Making yourself attractive, inside and out, is a good start. It doesn't take the biggest penis, the best job, the best body. It just takes a little thought about what the world you construct for yourself says about you.

And clean the fucking bathroom.

3. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to look like you're not planning to kill yourself.

People planning suicide often give away all their belongings. Every time I walk into an SMPT's apartment, I worry for them. This is not the path to a rich, sensual life full of willing women, fabulous dinners, and evenings you'll tell friends about years down the line. It's a path to a life that looks a lot like that apartment. Look around: are you satisfied with that?

It's a vicious circle: your apartment looks like Lonely Larry's Despair Emporium, so every time a girl looks at it, a slow, cold wind blows through her mind--she might sleep with you anyway, but the key word there is anyway. And so you're lonely, and so your apartment looks like an advertisement for a suicide hotline. Inner and outer are related, they cannot help but be.

I know a lot of men think they shouldn't have to do anything to get sex, especially geeks. Women should accept you as you are, right? You were rejected in school, so you arrange your life to avoid rejection as an adult. And women, no matter how personally revolting they find you, should see through, magically, to the gooey core of sweet, genteel adorableness inside. Of course, you don't go on dates naked or bite your toenails at the table, so you are willing to change a little to impress. The question is how much.

Well, give her a hand, why don't you? Let your apartment say something about that core of sweetness. That's what pictures on the walls and pillows on the couch are: outward expressions of internal passions. I have antique calligraphy and paintings of sphinxes on my walls--they indicate things about me, what I love, what I have experienced, they start conversations, they are a museum of me.

Do you want your museum to consist of a bucket and a "Please Excuse Our Mess" sign?

Things do not have to match perfectly, your curtains don't need to pick up the violet in your napkins or any of that nonsense. Shop at Wal-Mart, I don't give a shit. Hardly anything really has to match these days, but if you want a quick studio-apartment color primer: buy a bedspread, doesn't matter what color, but something at least vaguely not neon. Pick other decor based around that color. Make sure all your particle board is the same finish. It'll look put together and nice, no matter what that color is. You may have to fake caring about this shit for awhile, but after awhile you'll notice: you feel better when you operate from a place of power, and your apartment can be a place like that.

Batman does not live in an apartment with a broken futon and a dusty TV, guys. None of the greats do. This is your lair. Treat it with respect.

And keep it clean. That's all. You will get laid more, because you will appear to be a real, interesting human that dwells in the sensual world, lives his life beautifully, and thinks about things other than code and D & D. How hot is that? Very.

I feel so strongly about this. I've seen too many friends go to the Dark Side, and then they complain to me that they haven't had a girlfriend in two years. And I think: Jesus, I wouldn't fuck you in this Patented Programmer Pen either. And I want better for the boys in my life. I want women to swoon for you, guys, and for you to feel strong and lovely and powerful and competent.

As such, this has been a public service announcement, towards helping you towards a better life.

The More You Know.

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