March 29, 2007

Do you need to call in a consultant to make your home "relationship ready"?

Some people do!
The place is also dimly lighted, which, once you examine the kitchen nook in daylight, is probably not such a bad thing. The cabinets hold nothing but a six-month supply of powdered milk for Mr. Podell’s cereal, so that he can keep his trips to the supermarket to a minimum; the Formica countertop is peeling; the stove has been disconnected from the gas feed. (Mr. Podell, who usually eats out, sees no reason to waste fuel.)

All these things have proved detriments to love, but none so effectively as his sheets. Mr. Podell likes the ones from the ’60s and ’70s that tell a story: sheets with intergalactic battles or pink hippopotami or the Beatles. Since these are no longer available in adult-bed sizes, Mr. Podell’s sheets are now 30 to 40 years old.
Note: Podell is very rich!
Then there is Bob Strauss, 46, who writes dating advice for match.com and has a real stuffed baby seal in his apartment. He didn’t whack the seal on its silky little head, it’s a family piece inherited from a rich aunt and uncle in Miami.

It is displayed along with Mr. Strauss’s South Park and Sonic the Hedgehog figurines and Lego collection.

“It’s provocative,” he adds. “I like going out with tough, smart, aggressive, challenging type people. It’s fine with me if they want to argue about it; I don’t want to blandify my apartment to make myself generically acceptable.”
Just the fact that he'd say that tells you a lot. Everything you might not like is part of his individuality, and everyone else is bland and generic.

I think it all depends on how much you like the person. If it's not that much, it probably takes one little thing to seal off the flow of good will, like the guy in the article who rejected a woman because she had a Klimt poster. You're just looking for an out. And if you like them a lot, some of the most ridiculous crap becomes endearing.
As he entered her apartment, a free-flying parrot relieved itself on his head. Then a large rabbit darted out from somewhere and licked his feet. A baby gate separated a second rabbit from the first — there had been a nasty penis-biting episode, his date explained. Also, the kitchen wall was covered with antique egg beaters, which looked to Mr. Heindl like weird tools.
Yet, he married her! I think the weirdest part of that is specifying the bitten rabbit part. Why not just say one rabbit bit the other?

Anyway, look around your house right now and take the point of view of someone who's feeling wary about having a relationship with you. You've got some horrifying stuff there now, don't you? I know I do! Every damned room has something in it that would scare off someone who was already in an aversive mode.

Here's my advice -- which can take the place of consulting an expert about making your place relationship ready. Get someone to make a video recording of you as you go through your house or apartment looking at all your things. You take the role someone who's just met you and is trying to decide whether to reject you. Be honest. Be merciless!

ADDED: The comments over at the NYT are full of hilarious descriptions of horrible housekeeping/decorating.
The wall above this guy’s bed looked like the opening montage from the Brady Bunch, except all nine of the pictures were of his face — and, no, he didn’t intend them ironically.
And:
I dated this guy whose apartment was always a mess when I visited. However, occasionally it was clean. I finally figured out the pattern. He only cleaned the apartment when he had other woman visiting.
And:
There was the guy with a big red and white barber’s chair and a telescope in the center of his living room.... And then there was the guy whose vast loft apartment was filled with cats and dozens of huge statues of mournful angels and bleeding eyeless, handless saints . . . first one of the cats ran over and bit me, and then the guy, after weeks of dating, announced that what he really wanted to do in life was become a Catholic priest.

51 comments:

Internet Ronin said...

Sounds like some people just need an ordinary psychologist.

Jennifer said...

What a fun idea! I don't have to do the walkthrough, though, as I can tell right off the bat that the toy store aesthetic would scare off a LOT of people.

Some interesting folks in that article. I love reading about everybody's elses dysfunctions.

John Burgess said...

Maybe it's just me, but I didn't hear/read that 'rabbit biting' part to refer to another rabbit. I would have been checking the whereabouts of exits.

Ron said...

'Be honest. Be merciless!'

If I wanted that, I'd already be in the relationship, instead of mewling over my Sonic The Hedgehog action figure!

That rabbit probably thought it was Groundhog Day and wanted to shoo that gopher back so we won't have 6 more weeks of winter...instead he gets a new baby brother!

Maxine Weiss said...

Althouse needs curtains, someone help!

Anyone work at a fabric store? Don't underestimate the power of drapery.

Some nice heavy dark chintz, with gold sheers, I'm thinking.

There's no excuse for not having window treatments, you know. All you need is a glue gun, two hooks and a rod. You then choose your fabric at the Fabrics Store, and they prepare it, right there, for hanging.

Hey Althouse, what about plantation shutters on those windows, huh? Those are a little bit more complex in terms of installation. But I love the whole effect of plantation shutters and ceiling fans---gives kind of a South Seas aura.

Peace, Maxine

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Instead of the home, how about the office?

Any quirky things there that shout how weird you really are? Or have office policies sanitized work areas to the point where your co-workers can't tell?

I myself have small flag taped to the side of my monitor; something I have been doing since 9/11, that has drawn a few stares.

Maxine Weiss said...

Also, I found the Althouse home-theater set-up kind of odd.

TV just plopped on the floor....not really at eye level. TV is supposed to be raised, (just a little bit, perhaps) on an adjustable platform or stand.

And who watches TV sitting perfectly upright? I never watch TV, but when I do, I'm usually sprawled on the floor, (some good pillows) or fling myself over a plush settee.

Capricorns are the worst at interior design. Althouse needs to redecorate, immediately!

Peace, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...

It's not on the floor!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

That wascaly wabbit weminded me of vagina dentata for some weason.

Doug said...

These guys have apartments like the guy in 40 Year Old Virgin. I loved how that guy ragged on Steve Carrell for the framed Asia poster.

It does sound like the older guy pulls in a lot more tail than 40 Year Old Virgin.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I myself have small flag taped to the side of my monitor; something I have been doing since 9/11, that has drawn a few stares.

I have a sand filled silk fabric salamander made by Hmong crafters creeping over the top of my monitor... as if it is going to leap on me. A vintage magic 8 ball next to the phone and collection of political Jim Beam bottles. Among other things.

Hey!! I'm Capricorn. My decorating skills are pretty good. I get compliments all the time. Maybe it is just Ann (wink and smile)

arf said...

That article makes me really glad I'm not trying to date in New York.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

I am a Capricorn as well, and have never been complimented on my decorating skills, although I would not consider them dysfunctional. My wife considers my decorating 'clutterizing' for some reason.

SippicanCottage said...
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Simon said...
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Christy said...

It is probably the stuff we are oblivious to that presents the problems. I swear I had never noticed until a boyfriend pointed it out that I had a display of mother and child posters (Cassatt, Picasso, & Da Vinci) on a hall wall. Of course what he saw was a woman desparate to start a family; I saw a young woman 600 miles away from her mother. I was the kid not the mother in that small collection. Nonethelsss, when we broke up a few months later, I took those posters down.

Guys? Think my 3 robots drive the men away?

Synova said...

If I go by my house, I think that most people don't see where they live after a while. It might be a good thing to try to look at it fresh and see what sort of impression it makes.

But if you like stuffed animals or some other odd thing, you should have it. It would be sad to get married to someone who couldn't stand stuffed animals, or real animals, or sappy artwork or who wanted it dark instead of bright. Living with someone takes a whole lot of flexibility but some things would be really hard to do without for the rest of your life.

Pogo said...

As has happened to many men, when I got married my wife promptly relieved us of my worldy possessions, including all my artwork, all except for the stereo, which I had to hide.

Best design approach ever.

RogerA said...

Maxine--I recently bought a house with a sun room and was going to do it in "island style." Already has the plantaion style shutters and ceiling fans. Was going to wicker furniture with blue green and yellow cushions and paint the walls blue and green (two walls blue, two walls green, with yellow and white trim. Troppical plans in woven reed baskets and probably a batik hanging on the large wall. Does that meet your approval?

HaloJonesFan said...

Part of the problem is that I don't have decorations. I have mementoes. A small distinction, but an important one.

Although. The mementoes I keep aren't freaking South Park figurines. They're stuff that has a story behind it; not just tchotchkes I collected because I felt that having them made me "cool" and "unique" and "interesting".

Indeed, it's cargo-cult thinking. "Cool people have quirky collections of stuff," thinks some character-less fellow, "so therefore if I get a quirky collection of stuff, I'll be cool too!"

As for the original article: Yeah, see, it isn't the home that needs to be made relationship-ready. It's the person.

blake said...

People who meet me quickly realize I'm not...there's a word here, but I'm not sure what it should be...let's say, "normal".

I imagine my household is a disappointment after the buildup.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

You know Pogo, I recently spoke to a woman who had just moved 1500 miles.

Her husband went south to close the deal on the new property and she stayed behind to pack up the old home, where she and her husband had lived for 30 years.

Her stuff went into the truck; his went into a dumpster.

How many couples' homes actually reflect BOTH of the individuals I wonder?

howzerdo said...

I love animals - and they are a "deal breaker." I would never get rid of them for any reason, and I will always get another when one goes over the trail. I'm sure their presence is the most obvious thing in my house, which at the moment looks like a playpen because I have a young dog who is full of mischief. My other dog, a hound who occupies most of the couch, is kind of stinky, sort of like popcorn. And my cat sprawls across the table, especially if there is a newspaper on it. But I have been married for a long time, and although he did not have a pet before meeting me, it has never been an issue.

BushWhacked said...

Why do you people waste your time listining to what this silly ditzy blond drunk has to say anyway?

Rick Lee said...

David Sedaris wrote a wonderful piece that really had an impact on me that was about this subject in a way. He was talking about how we gradually stop seeing our own living space until somebody new comes in for the first time and suddenly we are looking at our home "through their eyes" and we are embarrassed and chastened by what we see... that minutes before was just our ordinary surroundings.

rightwingprof said...

Example #32,781 that we live in a common-sense deprived society.

Ann Althouse said...

Christy: That's so sad!

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Isn't making one's home "relationship ready" just more of the same sort of deception already plaguing a lot of dating relationships?

My wife of many years brought to our home nearly all the junky little tidbits she'd had in her place before we married. It's a part of who she is, and I'm glad I knew about it on the front end of our long and happy relationship.

Woulda been a nasty surprise later.

As I see it, marriage works best when you each love the other being, and as a consequence are willing to put up with the foibles and oddities (s)he brings into the home.

Isn't all the odd stuff part of the real intimacy that makes an honest marriage so incredibly rewarding?

Isn't learning to overlook stuff that bugs you part of growing up?

Wendy said...

Oh my. I went to high school with that last guy, the one who married the rabbit lady.

Maxine Weiss said...

Althouse needs curtains !

Help for the drapery deprived.

Peace, Maxine

P.S. Why has Althouse not updated, yet? Don't tell me she's gone on hiatus.

Ann Althouse said...

Maxine: How do you know I don't have Roman shade type curtains? You can't see the top of the windows.

ron st.amant said...

when I was dating the woman who would become my wife, she called me one day and for an hour complained that she had repainted her bedroom in her apartment and the color didn't turn out right...in fact, she sobbed 'it looks like puke'...
I assured her through the whole hour that I was positive she was just being overdramatic and self-critical, because I knew she was an art major and that she had excellent taste in decor...
until I visited her apartment the next day...
well leave it to an art major to know EXACTLY what a puke colored wall really would look like!!

hideous...

we've both recovered since.

Wade_Garrett said...

I've found that women are more likely to put up with a messy apartment than guys usually believe. The typical male mindset is "I've got to clean if I'm having a woman over, or going out with the intent of bringing a woman home." However, I've found that women are way, way more likely to go long with a messy normal apartment than they are with a clean apartment that has something weird (like any of the things mentioned in the article) in it.

Maybe that's not very insightful . . . but for all of you college guys and 20-something's out there, don't worry! Girls don't think that much about your mess. Its expected.

Finn Kristiansen said...

I have a picture of Bush feeding strawberries to a baby, held up by a Chef (of South Park) doll atop my computer. I have a wall full of Christmas and birthday cards from the previous holidays. And I've bought a couple of matchbox cars and have them sitting atop my lone bookshelf.

I am sure some of that is annoying to someone. But since I lack a sofa and other necessary furniture to entertain, I've not had any females in here to disapprove, save for one. She just peeked in, and scowled. She rarely calls or anything unless she is hungry and everyone else in her cell phone is previously engaged.

HaloJonesFan said...

Wade: Indeed, many women like to see a bit of a mess. It means that there's something they can fix, which (for many if not most women) is an important part of the relationship. If you just have an odd personality, well, there's no fixing that.

Oligonicella said...

So, lemme get this straight. Instead of being yourself, you're supposed to bait and switch?

Oligonicella said...

So, lemme get this straight. Instead of being yourself, you're supposed to bait and switch?

Charlie said...

There's a gene in our family that makes us men either out-and-out slobs or incredible neatniks--no in between. When it comes to the opposite sex, the slobs have by far the better track record; all the confirmed bachelors are neatniks.

One uncle, a psychiatrist, was the biggest slob of all. I stayed with him for several weeks in my early 20s and was impressed by the stream of beautiful, bright women half his age.

His bicycles were parked in the living room, there was an 8-foot radius of seed hulls around the mynah bird cage, every dish and utensil was in the sink or on the drainboard. Even I, a confirmed slob, commented what a mess it was, to which he replied, "If you want to attract women, it's very important that the first time they see your home they see room for themselves in your life."

Charlie said...

There's a gene in our family that makes us either out-and-out slobs or incredible neatniks--no in between. When it comes to the opposite sex, the slobs have by far the better track record; all the confirmed bachelors are neatniks.

One uncle, a psychiatrist, was the biggest slob of all. I stayed with him for several weeks in my early 20s and was impressed by the stream of beautiful, bright women half his age.

His bicycles were parked in the living room, there was an 8-foot radius of seed hulls around the mynah bird cage, every dish and utensil was in the sink or on the drainboard. Even I, a confirmed slob, commented what a mess it was, to which he replied, "If you want to attract women, it's very important that the first time they see your home they see room for themselves in your life."

Charlie said...

There's a gene in our family that makes us either out-and-out slobs or incredible neatniks--no in between. When it comes to the opposite sex, the slobs have by far the better track record; all the confirmed bachelors are neatniks.

One uncle, a psychiatrist, was the biggest slob of all. I stayed with him for several weeks in my early 20s and was impressed by the stream of beautiful, bright women half his age.

His bicycles were parked in the living room, there was an 8-foot radius of seed hulls around the mynah bird cage, every dish and utensil was in the sink or on the drainboard. Even I, a confirmed slob, commented what a mess it was, to which he replied, "If you want to attract women, it's very important that the first time they see your home they see room for themselves in your life."

Charlie said...

There's a gene in our family that makes us either out-and-out slobs or incredible neatniks--no in between. When it comes to the opposite sex, the slobs have by far the better track record; all the confirmed bachelors are neatniks.

One uncle, a psychiatrist, was the biggest slob of all. I stayed with him for several weeks in my early 20s and was impressed by the stream of beautiful, bright women half his age.

His bicycles were parked in the living room, there was an 8-foot radius of seed hulls around the mynah bird cage, every dish and utensil was in the sink or on the drainboard. Even I, a confirmed slob, commented what a mess it was, to which he replied, "If you want to attract women, it's very important that the first time they see your home they see room for themselves in your life."

Charlie said...

There's a gene in our family that makes us either out-and-out slobs or incredible neatniks--no in between. When it comes to the opposite sex, the slobs have by far the better track record; all the confirmed bachelors are neatniks.

One uncle, a psychiatrist, was the biggest slob of all. I stayed with him for several weeks in my early 20s and was impressed by the stream of beautiful, bright women half his age.

His bicycles were parked in the living room, there was an 8-foot radius of seed hulls around the mynah bird cage, every dish and utensil was in the sink or on the drainboard. Even I, a confirmed slob, commented what a mess it was, to which he replied, "If you want to attract women, it's very important that the first time they see your home they see room for themselves in your life."

Charlie said...

There's a gene in our family that makes us either out-and-out slobs or incredible neatniks--no in between. When it comes to the opposite sex, the slobs have by far the better track record; all the confirmed bachelors are neatniks.

One uncle, a psychiatrist, was the biggest slob of all. I stayed with him for several weeks in my early 20s and was impressed by the stream of beautiful, bright women half his age.

His bicycles were parked in the living room, there was an 8-foot radius of seed hulls around the mynah bird cage, every dish and utensil was in the sink or on the drainboard. Even I, a confirmed slob, commented what a mess it was, to which he replied, "If you want to attract women, it's very important that the first time they see your home they see room for themselves in your life."

Joe Baby said...

Oh, oh for that bland pottery barn/ikea style I used to condemn at every opportunity.

Galvanized said...

Goodness, the idea of ever being judged by my personal effects scares me to death. I might be considered a puritanical Shaker given my sparsely furnished home, but it may be so only because I have little left money to decorate with,especially if I'm young, single, and just starting out. This may work with those who live comfortably and/or are established enough that as they can afford to decorate their places according to their tastes, but the surroundings of someone with limited means might not reflect who they are or their personal tastes. (Hygiene, however, like the woman with the mildewed towel...ugh...is another matter altogether!)

This was a fun read!

Robert said...

The NYT Article has not been relevant to me for the past 30 years, thank God. But, by the time I was in my twenties I figured out that the evening always ended more plesantly if it ended at her place, not mine. Just an issue of comfort levels.

Todd said...

Hmmm.. I've got a talking Yoda doll that functions as a sort of magic 8 ball. He's sitting on my computer tower.
Me: 'Yoda, should I comment on this post?'
Yoda: 'Simple question you ask. Yes, I feel, is the answer.'

What do you think, endearingly quirky or nerd-alert material?

Galvanized said...

The doll or the dialogue? ;)

P. Froward said...

That clown who doesn't want to "blandify", OMG, he's got a circular unframed mirror over his couch and a dorm-room floor lamp from Staples in the far corner. Everything in that room but the seal is bland beyond the power of words to describe. Can't quite make out the picture facing the mirror, but I'll betcha ten bucks it's French impressionist tat from a museum gift store.

I say he should keep the seal. It's the closest thing he's got to evidence that a human being lives there. Or have himself stuffed. Nobody will notice.

Galvanized said...

And now I'm left with a complex because I really do like Gustav Klimt's work. Wow.

HaloJonesFan said...

P Froward: Heh, good point. Also, note the three different styles of sofa. But I guess "shopping at Goodwill" is part of a fun, quirky, non-bland personality!