Jamie Shupak is the Emmy-nominated traffic reporter for NY1, the Big Apple cable network that’s the end-all and be-all on all things Gotham for New Yorkers. She’s also a beautiful, single woman navigating New York’s treacherous (and hilarious!) dating scene. In her weekly column she shares her war stories and offers her advice and admonitions.
You can tell a lot about someone by being in his or her home: what they’re into, whom they’re closest to, and how they live. If you step into the fortress of Shupakitude, as one guy I dated so affectionately called my studio apartment in the West Village, I hope my theory would hold true.
You’d see the photo of me and my four best girls from high school; the framed Grateful Dead record albums; a closet door painted into a chalkboard with scribbled notes from tiny nephews and lovers past; a framed snapshot of my two brothers and me from 1986 (I was 5); and my retro green DeSean Jackson jersey, which I keep flung over the arm of my couch (intimidation?).
But at some of the bachelor pads I’ve visited, the storyline as told to my girls the next day isn’t so neat. Here’s the thing: You don’t need to live in a penthouse to impress me (though if you do, please contact my editor—we’d like to, um, do a piece on you). To me (and I know some of my suburban friends and family will disagree) this is one dating department where size really doesn’t matter. But other things sure do when it comes to getting your crib ready for a woman to come over.
WOULD YOUR MOTHER CRY IF SHE SAW WHERE YOU LIVED?
Ask yourself: If your mother were coming over, would you take out the trash? Probably not. How about make your bed? Maybe. Wipe down your bathroom sink? I sure hope so. I dated a guy once who invited me over to his place (so he knew I was coming, no surprise visit) and I went into his bathroom and thought I was in the twilight zone.
He had empty bottles of body wash strewn on the floor (did you miss the trash can?), a hand towel that looked like it hadn’t been washed since he moved out of the frat house 10 years ago, and sink faucets that looked like you might contract an STD by turning on the water. When I came out of the bathroom he didn’t flinch, even though the look on my face read something like, "I just saw a ghost."
Would this guy have cleaned up differently if his mom were coming over? For her sake, I hope so. But I still haven’t figured out why a guy doesn’t act the same way when he invites a girl he’s seeing over to his place. Isn’t the goal to make me want to spend more time there? I don’t need your floors to shine like the top of the Chrysler Building, but I’d like to feel a little more comfortable using your bathroom than say, a port-a-potty at Coachella. It takes 10 seconds to spray some Clorox and wipe down the sink. If you’re too simple-minded to do that, or you don’t stock cleaning supplies, then I probably don’t want to date you. A tip: why not just spend the forty or so dollars and hire a cleaning lady?
WHERE WE'RE GOING, WE WILL NEED TABLES
Sure, it’s a relief when I walk into a guy’s place and it’s spacious, clean, and decorated well. But I also get that not every guy I date is going to have the design sense (or knife collection, thankfully) of Patrick Bateman, Christian Bale's character in American Psycho. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to get your bachelor pad ready for a woman to come over. I dated a guy once who invited me over for dinner. I eat everything, so I didn’t ask any questions about what he was cooking. Ha, did I say cooking? Silly me. “I only know how to cook spaghetti and eggs,” he informed me. So Emeril and I were going to order in.
As he’s glancing through menupages-dot-com, I was glancing around the apartment thinking, "Where are we going to eat?" There was no table, only a plastic trunk that doubled as a coffee table—you know, the kind my boyfriend and I drunkenly ate Easy Mac off of at 4 in the morning in college. The trunk, filled with god knows what, was going to be the centerpiece of our romantic feast. At this point, I could only hear my mom inside my head, and we all know what she was saying: Oy gavult. This same guy, for the record, had a plastic shower curtain, another item I beg you to upgrade. But I digress.
We live in New York City where for less than 50 bucks you can go to IKEA, Bed Bath & Beyond, a flea market, Kmart—anywhere, really—and buy a coffee table. It doesn’t cost much money to make your house a home. Likewise for the shower curtain—please ditch the plastic for fabric. We’re not in college anymore.
HOME IS WHERE THE EX-GIRLFRIEND'S PICTURES SHOULD NOT BE
I was in a relationship for a long time, so you don’t have to tell me that after a breakup there’s pictures, ticket stubs, videos, matchbooks, and all kinds of assorted junk left about as lingering reminders of your ex. Still, a little out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new can do a world of good. So imagine my surprise when this guy I was dating invited me over (again, not as a surprise) and we’re making drinks in the kitchen when I, as any normal human being would, looked at the pictures on the fridge.
On my fridge you’ll find about a dozen save the dates, two strips from the photo booth at the NY1 holiday party, and an assortment of cards and pictures from friends. On his fridge, there was a clip (like a magnetic chip clip) holding two pictures together. One was of him and his brothers and sisters when they were little. Cute. And underneath? Oh, so cute again—him and a girl with their faces pressed against each other, sitting by a tropical-looking body of water.
“Oh, that’s my ex-girlfriend,” he explained, “I should probably put that away somewhere.” Ya think? I understand that everyone has a past—I myself have one with corresponding photographs, but they’re not on display. I threw most stuff from my past relationship out, but I get that might be harsh for some people. So if you feel the need to keep pictures of your ex, do us all a favor and put them in a box and stuff it under your bed where it belongs.
BE THE MASTER OF YOUR DOMAIN
When I called my best friend Jess and told her about this column, she so sweetly replied, "The bachelor pad is dead." Not an hour later she calls me back with this explanation: There’s the man cave, and then there’s the bachelor pad.
Most guys’ apartments I’ve seen are pretty cave-like: they’re messy, with whatever stupid posters hung up, a place where you're free to play Nintendo all day. Then there’s the bachelor pad: inhabited by the real estate and finance men of the world, but really just an upscale man cave. Both are clearly waiting for a woman’s touch, this one guy I went out with being the perfect example of this.
He had a poster of some of the New York Yankees taped to the wall in his bedroom. Tape. Like scotch tape. Now, even if I thought Jeter and A-Rod were good looking (which I don’t—I prefer Bill Belichick, thank you very much), I still wouldn’t want to stare at that while lying in bed. If you have sports memorabilia, or a band you love, take the photos or old album covers, ticket stubs from games or concerts, and frame them.
I love a man that’s into something, a team, a band, a hobby. Show it in a tasteful way. Be the master of your domain, not a 20-something kid living off Mom and Dad in a dorm room. And if you’re not sure of how something looks, ask a woman you trust to come over and have a look, just like I did when I was preparing for my first date. Remember, even the least judgmental woman secretly wants to change something about your digs.
Keep it clean and comfortable, keep it free of your past, but keep it real by showing me what you’re into. And please, when I come over, offer me a drink.
Next week: Jamie discusses whether your friends are benefits.