Neatnik Dating Disasters

You starch your pajamas and arrange canned foods by color, but you’re still considered the slob of the house? Join the club.

By William D. Hicks

t’s nice to show up at a date’s apartment to find it well kept and tidy. It’s another thing entirely to show up to find that your presence alone causes your date unwarranted clutter-related conniptions. If you’re still reeling from a recent run-in with an overly mess-conscious mate, take heart knowing that at least a few people have dealt with worse and survived:

1. Cleanliness is next to Godliness
“I offered to put the dishes in his new dishwasher,” admits Jim, 32, who just
“I wondered who he was dressing to impress.”
started dating Tony. “At least I thought it was new. Tony told me the machine didn’t get them clean enough, so I washed them all by hand. He spot-checked my work—and then rewashed all of the dishes.”

2. Women’s work is never done
“We’d watched some TV and were eating some peanut butter on saltines. I fell asleep,” explains JoAnn, 25, who had been dating Patricia for two months. “I awoke to this weird noise and thought I was dreaming. When I opened my eyes, Pat was vacuuming cracker crumbs off my shoes, the table and the carpet. It wasn’t a dream—just my own personal nightmare.”

3. Too err is human; to iron divine
“We went to his house so he could change into jeans for the baseball game,” admits John, who only dated Brad a few times. “I understood—he had his work clothes on. But when he insisted on ironing his jeans first, I wondered who he dressing to impress? The straight men at the park? The players? Me?”

4. Never let them see you sweat… on their stuff
“Allan and I were dating a few months,” Bill explains.
“I laughed, but he wasn’t kidding.”
“Mostly dinners, movies, drinks—nothing too intense. We’d never been at each other’s apartment. Finally, Allan invited me over. He had a beautiful collection of glass birds on a bookshelf and I picked one up. I examined it and put it back. He scowled and cleaned my ‘grimy’ (his word) fingerprints off it for five minutes, then took a full half-hour to set the bird in its ‘proper home.’ (Again, his words.) Was he a dodo bird, obsessive compulsive or what?"

5. A place for everything
“We were going to a movie,” explained Cathy, 37. “After dating Nanci for 5 months, I knew we didn’t always agree, so I brought a newspaper. After agreeing on a movie starting in 20 minutes, I neatly put the sections of the paper into a pile and folded the movie page to take with us. Nanci harrumphed, placed each section of paper in its proper order inside the paper, and then said, ‘please keep my place tidy.’ She proceeded to direct me to place the paper in a tied stack of newspapers in the pantry. We missed the movie.”

6. Clothes don’t make the man… sock holder-uppers do
“We’d gone out maybe six times in a few weeks,” admitted Don, 25, dating Larry. “This date was a black-tie affair. I showed up at his house, but he wasn’t ready and had his shirt, boxers and socks on. He held two elastic bands in his hand—they looked a little kinky and similar to those things kids use to keep mittens attached to coats. ‘What are those?’ I asked. ‘Sock holder-uppers,’ Larry said. I laughed. But he wasn’t kidding—they were men’s garter belts. He even used ‘shirt holder-inners.’ Larry retouched his shirt, pants and tuxedo coat; then put cuff links on. He even tied his own bowtie. Sure he looked great, but he made us unfashionably late.”

William D. Hicks is a freelance writer who lives in Illinois.
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