The experiment is over. For six months I lived with a girl; four of which we were in a relationship. Peacefully co-habitating with an ex-girlfriend is a lengthy subject, so I won’t attempt to cover that here. What I am here to discuss is the lifestyle changes I attempted to embrace to make for a more lady friendly Nik environment.
I've never been picky about where I lived...
In saying this, I’m not suggesting that pre-girlfriend Nik had active bear traps lying around the apartment. Some people might say my design choices are eclectic, most would just say it’s messy. In the hours before my girlfriend moved in I turned my bachelor dungeon in to an English cottage. This remodeling broke a precedent that I had worked very hard to establish from my first year of university on.
With a lady moving in there was an issue with clothing storage. I did not have in my possession one hanger. From my limited experience with the fairer sex, I know if nothing else girls hate wrinkled clothing, and when you fart near them. Half of this was easy to solve; I bought a lot of coat hangers. Now that I’m back flying solo, I have a surplus. Even if I were to hang every shirt I owned on a hanger I would maybe only use two thirds of my supply. This is including t-shirts. After taking a cruise on Craigslist the resale value of hangers isn’t awesome either. It’s like I’ve been left with a dog that I never wanted but was seduced into acquiring by my better half at the time. Coat hangers might not whimper when you’re trying to give them away, but you also can’t drown them in a burlap sack either.
Is there something on my face?
The second major issue that I had to overcome before G-Day (girlfriend day) was what was, or more to the point, what was not in the pantry and fridge: food. I did a pretty mean shop before my lady made the move, and until that food ran out she might have thought that I ate regular meals like a real civilized human being. Old habits die hard though, and I slipped back into my old vices; Kraft Dinner, Mr. Noodles, and cold beans eaten directly out of the can. The menu I eventually settled into fell somewhere between hunter gatherer and survival horror. Suffice to say, we ended up making our own meals.
Despite my cullinary short comings I did decorate the studio apartment artfully, albeit with considerable outside influence of course. It was my first and only attempt to make a place where ‘Nik lives’ into a place that a woman could survive and maybe even live without crying herself to sleep every night. The gap in comfort between the two is alarming, I can admit that, but change is a part of growth and I dove head first into the shallow end. This meant doing something that I had never considered before in my life: buying things that matched and ‘went together’. After spending forty minutes in Ikea staring at bedding, making two phone calls for advice, and asking an Ikea slave their opinion on the subject, I had an intentional colour scheme for my apartment. In my opinion it really brought the space together. Martha Stewart would be so proud.
She loves me, she loves me not....
The extreme hovel makeover didn’t stop their either. I focused on the finer details that would transform my man cave into a 500 square foot studio paradise. To my knowledge only two things can so radically change your perception of an apartment: a better apartment, or flowers. Due to financial limitations I went with the flowers. I commissioned and arranged a delightful summer selection for my dining room table (if you can call the area that a table occupies in a small studio apartment a dining room). I didn’t cut the flowers, arrange the flowers, or even choose the flowers, but I did put them on the table. My friend’s mother did most of the heavy lifting during this leg of my frantic makeover. Although she offered to help me beautify my existence, I suspect she regretted trying to help the hopeless.
While she was trimming the perfect arrangement, I commented, “Wow Cathy, you’re really bouqueting the shit out of those flowers.” This was my attempt at being genuine, but instead was offensive for two reasons. First, I used bouquet as a verb, but Cathy isn’t an English teacher. Second, I swore in front of her entire clan. Cathy is a respectable lady with a green thumb, and my stream of consciousness almost left me with a hollow vase. The flowers were a nice touch though, and I hope my experimental verb usage didn’t offend Cathy too much, because I still need all the help I can get.
Things never got this bad.
Due to negligence the flower arrangement only lasted a few days, but that floral arrangement was a band-aid solution to a much bigger problem. When you buy a new car it’s shiny and beautiful and everything you always wanted on four wheels. Then after a few weeks you notice a scratch, but you tell yourself that it’s not that bad. Hell, it’s only one scratch… right? From then on that blemish will haunt you every time you drive your car, walk past it, or think about it. You’ll start to notice the lonely scratch has invited some of his friends to hang out on your car as well. It might take a few months or a year, but there comes a time when you just want a new car. That husk you’ve been clunking around town in is now so scratched it wouldn’t be safe to drive it any further than the end of the driveway.
I did my best, but there are times in life when your best isn’t good enough. I have never embraced all the comforts that modern society has to offer, but I did try a few on for size during this social experiment; even if they didn’t stick.
Personal growth is about learning, and now I know why girls are so hot on hanging clothes up. Friends, co-workers, family members, and strangers can’t help but notice the odd occasion when my shirt isn’t wrinkled like a used napkin.