Do You Wanna Come Over and See My Leech Jar?

Hello ladies and germs AND Happy, Happy Thanksgiving — or, as I like to call this particular fete —

“What Do We Do with the Dinosaur Egg-Shaped, 40-pound Tofurky Loaf?” Holiday.

Past solutions have included:

Sailboat anchor, anvil, truck-parked-on-hill wheel-stopper, wrecking ball, kettle-bell, canon ball, foxhole barricade, seed bomb, highway median, flood dike, hot-air balloon weight, and shot put:

And now, as the post-gorging coma sets in, let us move onto our sorely missed, regularly scheduled program Mailbag Monday.

Honestly, I would love nothing better than to believe we as humans are MORE than excrement flinging bovines mindlessly following the sound of the same braided bull whip… BUT … I can NOT deny a few universal truths; i.e. as the weather gets colder, the days get shorter, and the nights get darker — the need for a warm body to fill the other side of the bed consequences be damned gets Biblical.

And, judging from my bursting-at-the-cyber-seams, overflowing INBOX, one thing is absafruity clear:

Seasonal Affucktive Disorder (SAD) has already started to spread among the single population north of the Equator.

  • Therapy lamp: Check.
  • Melatonin capsules: Check.
  • Indiscriminate, bar-lowering hook-up with first-interested-party: Check and Check Please!

(The one upshot: Bedbugs generally don’t survive in cold weather)

So, I’m just going to close my eyes and pick a letter from the middle of the stack. Ready, aim, fire:

Dear Nerdy Romantic,

I recently started seeing this guy and all was going gangbusters until around date 5 when he invited me over to his place for a nice, home-cooked dinner. For all outer appearances, this guy seemed as sweet and unassuming as apple pie. He’s a freaking high school Algebra teacher!

When I showed up at his place, I was genuinely taken with the baby blue exterior, wrap-around front porch, and folky yard art. But then he opened the door and it was a death of a thousand Christmas’s. It was like the set of MTV’s Jackass. No lie: He had a slip-n-slide in the kitchen that he kept wet via the sink’s spray nozzle. And while I never actually sat on it, I’m pretty sure his living room couch was inflatable.

Needless to say, 5 minutes into the “tour,” I faked a migraine, went home, and haven’t returned his phone calls. Is it wrong for me to judge a guy by how he lives?


House/Heart Broken


Dear House/Heart Broken. Wow, does this ever make me nostalgic for the good ole days, like in 9th grade when Chris Glass invited me over to listen to his new Gin Blossoms CD. Now, things are so much more complicated. “Hey Jealousy” and a sleeve of Nutter Butter’s isn’t going to get ’em to third base anymore. Am I right!?

Fortunately I’ve learned from my own experiences in this very matter AND in the end, my final decision always comes down to the “3 S’s” of domestic deal break-or-make-rship. (This section will be on your final exam):

1. Stylistic:

This has to do with aesthetic differences. You’re French Country. He’s Frat-house Chic. Your walls are a mix of sunny yellows and soft greens. His walls are covered in black-light posters and flickering, neon Miller Time signs. You have an entire set of LeCreuset cookware and a subscription to Epicurean. He has a George Foreman grill and an award-winning “Special Wing Sauce.”

By no means is this cause to hit the relationship kill switch. You just met the guy for Chimney sake. You’re not moving in together. And even if it does come down to that at some point, think about it: If he’s the kind of guy who uses a camping hammock as a bed, he’s probably not going to dig his heels in when it comes paint-chip-picking-time.

2. Structural:

This has to do with the actual living “conditions.” We’re talking foundation, integrity of floorboards and rebar, sanitation.

  • Is there a condemned “this building is deemed unsafe for human occupancy” sign nailed to the front door?
  • On a scale of 1 to ‘Hoarders’ — is the inside of the house filled with old, untuned pianos and hundreds of electronic fish wall mounts?
  • Use your olfactory sense as well: Does the place smell like moth balls, formaldehyde, or the sulfuric stench of dying dreams?

labrynth3. Statement:

This has to do with signature “statement” pieces. Here, a guy’s living space isn’t just “a place to crash.” It’s a visual extension of his identity. His input alone is behind the interior design, the furniture, art, and accessories. Therefore, this is the most useful “S” for determining whether you and he are actually compatible.

Allow me to interject with a few personal anecdotes:

The best (and worst) example was this guy I dated for about 4 months. For 3 months and 29 days of that relationship, I would describe said guy as hilarious, charming, social, chivalrous, polite and above all NORMAL.  I’m talking wore New Balance athletic shoes with boot cut jeans NORMAL.  The only faint whiff of whackadoo that I ever picked up on was the fact that we always hung out at my place.

At first, it didn’t bother me. My apartment was more convenient to everything (namely, the “Hot Now” sign at Krispy Kreme). But then I started to think he was hiding something: a wife, a meth lab, an exotic tiger. So, on month 3 day 29, i suggested we grab some take-out and watch a movie at his place.

A wife, a meth lab, an exotic tiger — I would have taken any of those things over the truth…

7:03 pm: I knock on a huge, metal door in an old cotton mill-turned loft apartment complex. His is the basement studio right next to the train tracks.

7:04: He opens the door. I walk in. The concrete floor has been painted a dark Merlot red. And on that floor sits a 7-foot long, black satin couch and matching pair of old, wooden electric chairs.

7: 07: Feeling in pit of my stomach starts to sink faster than a mob victim fitted with Tofurky shoes and tossed into the Hudson.

“Where is your restroom,” I manage to squeak out.

“Down the hall, first door on the right,” he answers.

7:08-7:15: While sitting in bathtub, I run through a few rapid-fire, anti-anxiety exercises. “So what,” I reason, “He has an eclectic design sense. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s a super nice guy with a steady job and no drug dependencies.”

I come back out with a renewed can-do attitude. Then, I see a light coming from the room directly across the hall. I go inside. 2, museum style glass display cases take up the bulk of the space. I walk over. Inside are neatly organized rows of antique medical equipment, each item with its own type-set label: (font: Gothic)

Spring lancet. Civil War circular amputation saw. Suppositories. 18th century OB forceps. Chloroform bottles. Cal…

7:19: I hear footsteps and then his voice, “My favorite one of all is the medieval, blood-letting leech jar.”

7:19 1/4th second: Voice inside my head: “Please do not ask me to put the lotion in the basket. Please do not ask me to put the lotion in the basket.”

Outside voice: “You know what? I totally forgot I had plans with my sister tonight. I am so sorry but I have to bail.”

7:19 1/3rd to 1/2 second: Slowly, calmly, cooly walk out of his apartment and back to my car.

Next day: I call him and have him meet me in a very PUBLIC place to break it off.

In hindsight, I definitely think my imagination got the best of me that night. I don’t doubt for a second that that guy IS a genuinely nice, harmless, and healthy person. But the fact remains: His home was a statement, loud and clear. No more or less so than the guy with the bunk beds (COOL!)… With a life-size storm trooper “sleeping” in the bottom bunk (NOT COOL!!).

Or — the guy with the Confederate flag nailed over his headboard

Or — the guy with the 6 plasma television screens all programmed to different sports channels.

These choices are deliberate, defining. They are fundamental to the person’s very being. And if your first instinct upon seeing them is to lock yourself in the bathroom and carve a shiv out of bar of hand soap — it’s probably not a good overall match.