At the risk of sounding petty and picky, I am going to be upfront and honest: I dumped a man because he not only had a lime green chenille bedspread, but he also had the matching fluffy toilet seat cover and wraparound rug.
We’d been out to dinner a few times and discovered that we had a lot in common. Then after date number three, which I now understand from men that I’ve surveyed is the make-or-break date, he invited me to his pad. The instant I entered his lair, I knew the deal was off. Suddenly the pipe that he puffed over cognac at the Pyramid Room didn’t seem so suave—his den reeked of stale smoke. The dated Dionne Warwick music that filtered down the hallway to where I sat hiding on the aforementioned toilet seat sealed the deal. I was out of there.
On the other hand, I once met a man with the worst posture I’ve ever seen. His hair and beard looked like they’d been styled by a weed whacker. He picked me up in a 10-year-old dinky Toyota and took me to a dingy Thai restaurant where we were the only English-speaking couple in the room. But the waitress knew him, and he ordered in Thai. He was the first man I watched eat efficiently with chopsticks. I was interested. Back at his condo, I discovered a vast music collection, and the artwork on his walls was an eclectic mix of paintings that he’d picked up from local underground galleries. We talked all night and dated for two years.
Is there a moral here? No, just a lesson. When you’re getting to know someone—the same rules apply to men and women—you can learn more from what they surround themselves with than what they say.
For instance, a guy (I must speak from this perspective since I am a gal) can wax poetic all evening to paint himself as a sensitive and caring human being. He may be. But when you discover his living room is accented with fake ficus trees in neon-colored plastic tubs, it’s time for a reassessment. Boys don’t own plants. Men do.
The bathroom is the most telling room. Needless to say, the condition of the bathtub, shower, toilet, and sink speaks volumes. I’m not saying they have to be granite—filthy Formica or toothpaste-streaked Corian tell the same tale. If they’re spotless, it’s a good sign. Is there a blue cleaning ball floating in the toilet tank? Get a headache fast.
Pay attention to framed photographs. Dog pictures are always a good sign. Too many photos of mother are not. If you find a photo album of old girlfriends in various stages of undress with dates listed beside them, make your cell phone ring and feign an emergency.
A glance into his refrigerator is a glimpse into his soul. Is it well-stocked with fresh food, nice wine, and Häagen-Dazs? Or do you have to move five Styrofoam containers to reach a half-empty bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay still coded with a Sam’s Club sticker? If he doesn’t have the same palate that you have now, chances are he never will.
If you’re comfortable with a person and the ambience they have created for themselves, then it could be the difference between a heart-pounding success and a mind-numbing failure.
Bachelor Do’s and Don’ts
In the world of Dallas dating, the first visit to a man’s home can have instant effect.
• 300-plus thread counts
• Sony Plasma screen
• French Romantic literature
• Subscription to The Economist, The Chesterton Review, or Nest
• Antiques or family pieces
• A well-used spice rack
• Live plants
• An herb garden
• Titanium PowerBook G4 by Apple
• Blue Note jazz album collection
• Original art
• Cloth handkerchiefs
• Polished copper cookware
• Photos of nieces/nephews
• Coffee table books
• A front-loading washer and dryer
• Bottle of Grey Goose in the freezer
• Dog or cat(s)
• Anything styrofoam
• Anything Sega or Nintendo
• Black lacquer furniture
• Unidentified skirt in closet
• Wet towels on the bathroom floor
• Too many pictures of Mom
• Parents live in the master bedroom
• Beringer in a box
• Cologne collection displayed on vanity
• Christmas potpourri in July
• Anything KFC
• Anything in neon
• Decorative soaps
• Pool table in dining room
• Framed membership certificates
• Subscription to Maxim
• Too many self-help or “get ahead” books
• Chia pets, even as a joke
• SI swimsuit edition