Don’t judge me for it, but I had a Burning Man boyfriend. He wasn’t a yoga teacher, a dot-com millionaire or a homeless DJ. I had met him a few times before in a professional context, and we had some good friends in common. So it wasn’t totally crazy that he ended up sharing my tepee (and that’s not a euphemism).
I was curious about whether our relationship could work on our mutual home turf of Los Angeles. Things that seem like great ideas at Burning Man are often not such great ideas outside Burning Man (see: glow sticks, flaming vehicles, capoeira). Could this guy have serious boyfriend potential? I needed more information. I needed to check out his place.
About a week and two dozen showers after returning home from Burning Man, I was pleased to find myself walking into his cozy house in Laurel Canyon, a neighborhood known for its rock-and-roll residents. The guy got points for having a cool platonic female roommate and an extensive vintage record collection. It was all very groovy until I realized he slept on a futon mattress on the floor with only one bedside table—an overturned wooden box.
It got way worse in the bathroom. There was no hand soap, just a skinny, hairy bar of soap in the shower. A roll of paper towels stood in lieu of toilet paper and hand towels. The real kicker: The toothbrush of his last girlfriend still sat by the sink.
It’s hardly surprising that from there things went downhill pretty fast. During the last day we spent together before amicably deciding to just be friends, I took him shopping at Whole Foods. I threw organic hand soap, body soap and face wash into the cart. “What’s the difference?” he asked. Instead of explaining, I added toothbrushes, hand towels and toilet paper to the mix.
His was not the worst bachelor pad I’ve seen. The bathroom of one guy in downtown Manhattan was so disgusting I left him my maid’s phone number before fleeing. “Call her first or don’t call me,” I said.
He never called. Anyone that dirty is clearly undatable, which brings me to my first rule of bachelor-pad living: Get a maid. If you can afford a housecleaning service twice a week, do it. If you can afford it only once a month, do it. If you can’t afford it at all, buy a ton of cleaning supplies and get busy. Cleanliness is the thinking woman’s aphrodisiac. Disorganized drawers and messy piles are fine. Crusty sinks and overflowing trash are not.
The second rule: Purge all signs of other women. That includes the tampons hidden under your sink, the earring on the bedside table and the shampoo for color-treated hair in your shower. Your date will probably look through all your stuff, particularly if she’s worried you’re seeing other people. Perfume on pillows, long hair in the drain and makeup stains on the towels will give you away—and are a few more reasons to get a maid.
I have never seen any religious iconography that turned me on. I had a particularly unfortunate reaction to a massive framed photograph of a young monk hanging over the bed of a guy I suspect was gay. I didn’t love seeing the book Dianetics on another guy’s bookshelf either. Throw out the Buddhas. Take down the crosses. Wait until you marry a Jew to hang a mezuzah. Ignore this advice if you are religious and want to attract someone who shares your beliefs (but if that’s the case, you’re probably already married).
Rich guys don’t necessarily have it easier when it comes to creating the perfect bachelor pad, but money and a decorator who isn’t your mom can certainly help. The right wallpaper and couch are hard choices that no one should make alone. Who doesn’t appreciate expensive sheets and a steam shower? Women like a room with a view, particularly one with great drapery.
But sometimes more money really does mean more problems, or at least a prolonged bachelorhood. Single guys often overcorrect and build too perfect a kingdom for their future queen. Most women want to help build their nest, not just stock the fridge and hang their clothes in the closet. If you’re single and designing your dream home, at least be open to redecorating when you find the right girl. Do you really want to be with someone who has no opinions?
If you’re broke and have a shitty apartment, don’t worry. Girls will still like you. But they will like you more if you have toilet paper, clean towels, breakfast food and a fancy scented candle by the bed. Framed pictures of friends and family help you seem safe and popular. Stock up on blankets, because women hate being cold. Good chocolate and red wine always come in handy. Display some decent books, even if you read only on your iPad.
I ran into my Burning Man boyfriend at a party about six months after we broke up. He thanked me for the trip to Whole Foods and said he had recently been back there to stock up on the same stuff I had picked out for him. He was even dating a great girl who had her own toothbrush by his sink.
I would have been annoyed about wife-fluffing him, but I had found someone else too. My new guy was smart, funny, cute and sweet. More important, he had a bed frame and two bedside tables. They even each had their own reading lamp. It took me only two years to get him to upgrade to a king-size bed with a frame I liked better.