With my sublet on Bleecker Street soon expiring, I needed a new place to live. I wanted to continue subletting and sample another neighborhood but most places were out of my price range or required a one year lease. (My friend, Gyro, suggested my resistance to sign a lease reflected a fear of commitment— a theory that would gain traction in the coming years.)
Begrudgingly, I returned to my parents’ house/crashing in the office arrangement. This time, the peripatetic lifestyle took its toll. Gone was the impish joy of sleeping rent-free in Manhattan— I was tired all the time and longed for a beady door. I decided to take this as a sign of maturity. (Should I call Tracy? Hmm, not yet…)
Six weeks into my predicament a coworker, Paige, mentioned she and her roommate, Rachel, were looking to fill a third room. I pounced.
“We were kinda looking for a woman…,” she hemmed, “but you seem safe.”
I guess that was a compliment, although I immediately wondered what I needed to change to be dangerous.
The place was a huge upgrade— only two roommates, a real bedroom door and, best of all, settled by females.
Living with women was an eye opener. Having grown up with only brothers, attended an all boys high school and then a college where single sex dorms and curfews were strictly enforced, I’d spent very little time in a female abode. They were almost mythical to me and suddenly I lived in one. What a difference…
Everything Smelled Good
Their dirty laundry smelled good (not that I went around sniffing it, just passing the basket I swear). My stuff never smelled good, I just tried to keep it from smelling bad. Smelling like nothing is a man’s goal.
They Had Food…
They could assemble dinner for eight just based on what was in the cupboards, let alone refrigerator. Guys generally have soy sauce and ketchup packets.
…and Grownup Stuff
Pots, pans, can openers– they had things not only did I not own but I’d never heard of (this is where I first learned the terms “bed skirt”, “runners” and “sham”).
Pictures Mean Something
They displayed pictures of family, friends and meaningful life moments. If a guy puts up a picture, it’s usually of him and his friends doing something dumb. Or a super model.
Hand towels, wash cloths, bath towels, dish rags. I had one big towel that I used for everything– shower, bath mat, table cloth, napkin, lingerie, draft guard…
Women Love Clean
We had very different definitions of “clean”. For a guy, it means there’s nothing on the floor, for a woman it means things are actually, well, clean.
The best part of my new living situation, however, was getting a behind the scenes look at how women operate. I was immersed in the primping and prepping, products and problems. There were masks and creams and hour long debates about whether to get fro-yo at 10pm (the verdict was “yes” over 70% of the time, followed by guilt).
They watched sad movies on purpose and relished in hypothetical questions. (‘Would you still love me if I gained 500 pounds?’) It was the most insightful time in my life when it came to my understanding of— or attempts to understand— the opposite sex. Not only was I privy to their talks, I was part of them. They wanted my opinions on their relationships— what he said and what it meant (usually exactly what he said).
And since no one was trying to impress, we really got to know each other. I knew which movie stars Paige liked, what Rachel’s idiot boss said to her that day and how much both of them just saved on new shoes.
I was like one of the girls, just with a guy perspective. I felt protective of them and appreciated their trust in me. I’d never just hung out with women and it was so nice. No tension, no expectations. For the first time in my life I had female friends. Or so I thought…