Saturday, June 16, 2007

Men and Basements: Be Very Afraid

Over the last month I have made the acquaintance of a few different men due to a myriad of reasons, the main ones being new clients and my tendency to mix business with pleasure if its not too dangerous.

I've met some nice people...and some interesting people. And when I say interesting, I'm not just talking about wow, he's such a clever fellow! or isn't it great that he speaks three languages and knows Tantric massage! No...I'm talking about interesting in the sense that you know the person is a few fries short of a happy meal - and one clue is that they want to convince you that they used to be a CIA agent...and THAT's why they won't let you come over to their house. Or the fact that there happens to be a couple of pairs of shoes in their apartment that are large enough to fit them...and they are more feminine looking high heels than any that you own. Or because they refer to themselves in the third person more often than not in that creepy way: Scott really likes it when you play with Mr. Happy!

Or, because they are 45 and live in their parents' basement.

I came across this winner through mutual friends, actually; an investment banker who lives in Queens of Italian descent, who enjoys art, fine wine, and is a witty conversationalist and intelligent man. I was delighted, after a couple of dates, at the prospect of going home with him, since our discourse had been so engaging and he was so attractive; I was horrified to find out that what I was going home to was nothing more than the running joke among me and my female friends.

What comes up among single women who are dating is the never-ending, never-not-funny cliché of how we're looking for someone and we end up finding "a guy who lives in his parents' basement". Or how he may not be a great catch, but at least he doesn't live with his folks at the age of 38. Wow, I found him wearing my underwear and banging my girlfriend, but at least he has his own place and doesn't live with his parents! - you get the idea.

So, after an expensive candle-lit dinner, two bottles of wine, a romantic stroll through Manhattan, cocktails at another place that included making out and conversation about literature, the subject of the End of the Evening came up, and he wanted me to come back to his place.

"I'll make it really special for you - I just don't want the night to end." He said huskily, and with that, I clasped his hand and joined him in a cab and we headed for Queens. We arrive at this lovely little house, and I'm smiling as he's paying the cab driver.

He suddenly looks pained.

"I forgot - I left the keys for downstairs inside - we're going to have to go through the front door."
I'm This is your house, we should be going through the front door. I ask what the problem is.

"Well, this is my parents' house - and I live downstairs. So, we're just going to have to walk through the living room. I think they're up; let me poke my head in and let them know I have company."

Dear reader, I didn't know what to say. I was shocked - no, make that horrified. It was like 2am and I was going to be ushered through this 45-year-old man's house to his basement and along the way meet his parents? Thank God I wasn't sober.

He poked his head through the front door and said something like "Hi, I'm home - I have company, but we're going downstairs (at that point, I was thinking is that where he keeps the bodies?)," and then he grabbed my hand and pulled me into this time-warp of Italian suburbia. His mother looked as horrified as I was. His father looked amused. They were in their pajamas, watching television. I put on my cheeriest "Hello!" and made a beeline to wherever I thought the basement door, Dr. Who's Door, any door, might be - just so I could get past them and get the hell out of there.

He led me downstairs to another livingroom area, which I assume is his "space", and said "Well, what do you think? I have a great house, don't I?"

"Your parent's house is lovely." I murmured, and like the lone survivor of a group vampire attack, I waited for dawn to arrive. He couldn't seem to understand why I suddenly had a headache.

Since then, I have met two other men with Basement Issues: one man who is living in his ex-girlfriend's basement of her house and another who is living in a basement apartment in a lovely brownstone in Manhattan. The latter isn't a problem at all, but I'm so shell-shocked from the first two, anything that is not above ground is no longer an option for me.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Anonymous thes montgomery said...

i'm over here laughing my ass off (LMAO--as the kids say). i used to live in a basement--not the folks' cellar, but a basement rental apartment in brooklyn. now i live with my lady on the sixth floor of a six-story walk-up. i like to call it the penthouse.

yes, i moved on up, but for the 2+ years prior i was holed up in a dungeon with a view from my front window of passersby shoes and calves. every once in a while, a stray cat or a dog on a leash. the apartment's ceilings were low--i had to sit down to stretch. but the place was all mine, so the women came.

the one consolation for living in the sun-deprived dungeon was that i had sole acces to the sizeable patio out back. it was fully stocked with a rose bush, a peach tree (yes, it yielded peaches in the summer!) and a flowering hydrangea bush. these features offset the "what the hell am i doing here?" vibe that most women felt during their initial visits. plus, i always cooked up a storm.

living in a basement is similar to being on crack. we grown men are fully aware that there is a stigma attached, and once you're the basement dweller/crackhead you wonder "how has it come to this??!" circumstances seem to conspire to put us in this position--especially those of us who evaded hard-money curricula in college and ended up in a financial scramble thereafter.

i only wish that basement living had been as inexpensive as crack addiction. for the benefit of living alone, i thought i was getting a steal for $1,100 per month (in williamsburg)!

i guess for us fellas, the gamble is that any "booty call" would prefer privacy in a solely-occupied basement to attempts at intimacy in a four-person share. sometimes les femmes are reticent to operate in a space when three other men are drinking PBR and zoned out on Playstation.

and understandably, as you point out--when someone's parents are upstairs reading the bible.

i guess the point is, when a fella finds THE one--he motivates toward better lodging, stable finances, etc. until then, he will do just enough to get as much no-strings-attached "action" as possible from any willing parties.

i love your concept of "Basement Issues." i'm willing to start a B.I. support group, and sponsor any of my brothers stuck in the sub-terrain!

9:38 PM  
Blogger Billychic said...

I think a guy having a basement apartment is fine - but I can dig this "Basement Issues" thang - I'm totally LMAO as well (ain't just the kids who are, lol)

I just had to deal with a guy who lived in his folk's basement as well - what's the deal with that, anyway? If it's his apartment and it's a basement crib, then fine, but...his parents...and he's in his 40's?

And what was that about the guy living in his ex-girlfriend's basement? Oh, you mean he's still living with his girlfriend. For Chrissake.

That's just Craptastic.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Bitchy Actress said...

It could be worse. There COULD have been bodies down there.


2:38 PM  
Blogger Róisín Rua said...

Hey, I'd rather the dude still be living with his parents. At least that way he won't be asking me to move in with him and pay his rent...

7:27 PM  

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