My torrid affair with a certain guy would never have come to pass had it not been for his Tintin refrigerator magnets. Magnets! Of Tintin! On his refrigerator! Dorky fridge magnets have always reminded me of my mom (in her youthful, permed hair, 80's Reebok sneaker days), and Tintin brought me back to all those summers spent reclining on the front lawn reading comic books. Before I knew it, I was reclining in that certain guy's bed.
I'm sure this guy would never have guessed that it was his fridge magnets (and not his runner's physique) that persuaded me to stay the night. When I explained this to my girl friends, they all seemed to have their own stories about going up to men's apartments, too. We agreed that there are certain things women just can't help but notice on the grand apartment tour (okay, so fridge magnets aren't usually one of them). Magnets aside, we did come to a consensus about a few things that women look for when deciding whether the last stop on the apartment tour will be the bedroom or the front door.
It's not that we're snoops. Looking in the medicine cabinet, checking your laptop, and digging in your desk, we all agreed, are fundamental boundaries violations (and majorly creepy to boot). All the signs we talked about are right there in plain sight. So why aren't our dates "girl-proofing" their apartments when they've otherwise spent so much time cleaning and sprucing up the place up for the big reveal? Obviously, like my hapless guy, most men just don't have a clue.
For the sake of your love lives (and consequently ours, too), here are a few ideas on how to "girl proof" your place:
Conspicuous consumption does not make a home
Guys tend to think of their apartments in terms of wealth status rather than coziness. Here's the newsflash; Most women don't care if you live in a penthouse or an English basement. It's not your expensive entertainment system that is going to hold our attention. Family photos, a few plants, heirlooms (that are not swords or guns), and a few touches like quilts, throw rugs, and bed slippers all indicate to me that you've been properly domesticated. While I want to do it like wild animals, a post-coital trip for a glass of water should not be reminiscent of a lope in the woods. On the other hand, if your place gives off a cold vibe (a la American Psycho), I'm going to be checking you out for Patrick Bateman tendencies. And no, unlike the fictional Bateman, this does not mean you will get to screw me and my girl friend in a bed of coke while the whole affair is videotaped.
More than magazines
In addition to Men's Fitness, we want to know that our man not only can read, but does. You don't even have to spend money on books. Just go to the library. And please use that library card for good, not evil (ahem, DVD rentals). For starters, might I suggest David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest? It's got sports, addiction, family feuds, espionage, 300+ footnotes, and just having read it doubles your perceived, although probably not actual (sorry guys), IQ. And if you haven't yet, you should totally have your mind blown by Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America (and keep in mind, he wrote it when he was just 25)!
Even if you get all the obvious surfaces, if your apartment has not had a thorough cleaning in more than a month, layers of residual dust will have accumulated on everything. While we promise we aren't peeking under your bed (for porn or kink), that doesn't mean we won't start sneezing because of what's there (no, I'm not implying here that women are allergic to porn and kink!). About one in ten Americans are allergic to dust mites. And guess what they look like: armies of armadillo-roach-aliens. Obviously, if she's having a sneezing fit that night, she's not going to be experiencing whole new heights of physical pleasure.
Maybe you do have a sentimental attachment to your poster of Jessica Alba, neon Miller Lite sign, or that giant bong you purchased freshman year. There are just some items that guys don't want to get rid of. I get that. I mean, I've still got the teddy bear that was given to me on the day I was born, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be showing Teddy off to my dates. Having your college holdovers on display screams "chronologically, I may be an adult, but emotionally, I'm still in diapers." When I'm alone, do I still hug Teddy? Yes. And you might still spank the monkey to your poster of Jessica Alba, but having her poster on display isn't going to help you with your real, live women. And yes, it's still just a poster even if you've had it professionally framed and, dare I say, mounted.
Beware the bathroom region
I have been to a few apartments that I believed to be perfectly clean...that is until I had to pee. The bathroom is the Waterloo of male/female warfare, and unless your girl has a bladder of steel, this is ground you'll have to cover at some point. Obviously, toilet seat goes down and giving the bowl a quick scrub wouldn't hurt either. Nine times out of ten, however, men forget about the shower. And nine times out of ten, what do women want to eventually have after sex? No, not babies. A shower. Some women even prefer sex in the shower. Which is precisely why that tub needs your attention, too. Hair in the drain, mold, soap scum rings, and that weird brownish stuff (water stains, we hope) are totally not sexy. Also, you know how hot it is when a woman soaps up in the shower? Well, it's body wash, not dry bars of soap, that have maximum soap suds potential.
Signs of another woman
This one seems really basic, but I still see signs of girlfriends past all the time. Maybe that lopsided ceramic bowl your ex made you does make a perfect place for your spare change, but it needs to be put in a bag, the bag needs to be placed at the bottom of a box, and the box should hermetically sealed and shoved way back into the bowels of your closet before you invite another woman up. Nothing kills a sexual buzz more than signs that you're still hung up on someone else. Little things like her toothbrush, a half used bottle of girly shampoo, or a pair of socks (with bunny rabbits on them) have stopped me dead in my tracks too many times to count. No, I do not believe your little sister left those lacey under things at your place (and if she did, that just raises more questions than it answers).