I finally secured a house in Arlington, Virginia to move into last week. I had been actively searching for a new place for two months prior to landing in the ideal situation I ended up with. But even before seriously meeting people each weekend, I had been passively searching for a room in a single family home for two months prior to that.
My search was made longer because I refused to settle on a place that didn’t meet all my requirements:
-Must be near the metro
-Rent has to be on a par or cheaper than $750
-Room mates have to be social
-Room mates must understanding that some people have fun regularly.
I wanted to be “near the metro” so I could explore the city more and have a practical option of getting back from the bars shit-housed. Obviously having a place nearby to bring someone home with lends itself to have advantages.
I didn’t want to spend more than $750 because I’m still on a budget and still have/had a lot of student loans. Unless I started tacking away at them more seriously, I would be paying them off forever.
The roommates needed to be social, I want to have the option of expanding my own social network but I also want these people to be accepting of my friends. I am a big believer of the idea that you should always have a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with the people you live with. I want to be able to grab a beer with the people who live with me and not have to feel like I’m pulling teeth to throw something fun together.
Lastly, I had major issues in San Diego stemming from the noise I made when I lived with two girls (cunts). I like music and I have loud sex. Let’s move on.
I found a place that was only three blocks from the metro and rent (including utilities) was only $675. That’s a steal considering housing in the surrounding area can often be double that price for the same accommodations. I really liked the distance the house was to bars and Metro station. I e-mailed the people living there with a specially crafted message,
I saw your ad and from the sounds of it, I think I’d be a great fit. I’m 25, I co-founded a small start-up and have a good source of income. I’m low key during the week with the exception of the occasional happy hour from time to time. I’m looking to live in a house where I can be friends with the people I’m living with, not awkward acquaintances. I like to work hard and play hard on the weekends. I have a good social group of friends and never have trouble making new ones in new situations. I consider myself a like-able and very sociable person (although doesn’t everyone?) I usually reserve my weekends for most of the fun but try and stay active with the gym, outdoor activities, writing, and whatever unique events in the area catch my attention. I’m a clean person, respectful, and I’m not the type that subscribes to dramatics. I’d be happy to come by any time after 5 today or this week.
I received an e-mail later that day from someone named, “Barak Bukiroğlu” who claimed to be living in the house. I had never seen the letter “G” with horns above it. My first thoughts were that this guy was likely an exchange student and therefore lived with other exchange students and I would likely not have any desire to step into their world of disjointed reality. I did a quick Google search and found that “Barak” was a freelance photographer/media professional from the area. In his e-mail, Barak asked if I could come by later that night. He wanted me to meet him and the room mates. I was eager to get into a good living situation and this room was seemingly a great deal. I agreed to show up at 7:00 PM.
I got to the house on time. There was pretty limited parking on the street but the house was located in a really nice area and was closer to the metro than I had first anticipated. The porch was a bit of a mess, part of the roof on one side appeared to have water damage from a recent cave-in. In spite of that, I knocked on the door.
“HEY! You must be Taylor!” said a squirrely thin balding guy with a greasy beard.
“Yeah,” I said shaking his hand and stepping inside, “Really great location.”
“Yes,” said Barak awkwardly, “Well. Oh,” He picked up a stack of mail sitting near the door and started to thumb through it for a while as I stood just inside the doorway looking around. I felt strange pushing past him to look at more of the house so I just waited for him to get finished looking at the mail. I’m sure he didn’t have a clue that it was probably a strange first impression. He then opened a letter and began to read its contents while I stood there. “Hmmm.” He said out loud, eyes fixed on the letter.
“Were you expecting a letter today? Something important?” I asked trying to shuffle more into the house to get a better look at the living room.
“No.” He said turning the letter over and then looking at the envelope.
He opened a second letter and began to read. I could see other people walking through the living room and around into the kitchen just past him.
“Hey, so this is a nice living room.” I said noticing that he was reading junk mail from national geographic and nothing important enough to be wasting precious seconds of my life.
“Oh, yeah.” That’s the fireplace and the book case.” He said tearing his eyes off the junk mail.
I rolled my eyes.
“What kind of work do you do?” He asked as we walked a few steps into the living room.
I gave my little “elevator pitch,” and then said, “You do photography or something like that right?”
He went pale. “Well how do you know that?” He asked in a strange tone.
“Well I saw that you had a pretty unique e-mail address it was bukiroglu.com, so out of curiosity I looked up the site.
“You looked me up?” He said in a creeped-out tone.
“It was a strange e-mail address, I was doing my due diligence, doesn’t everyone google everyone these days? I didn’t realize this was a big deal.” I said in a playful manner.
“No, I’m just not used to people doing that.” He said trailing off.
“It’s not a big deal Baruk. I’m not stalking you, you’re not my type” I said jokingly but annoyed. “I’m sorry I brought it up.”
Things weren’t off to a great start but I can always bounce back. I was already put off by the weirdness of this guy. I was hoping the other people would be more normal.
“Yeah ok, well here’s our communal room.” He said leading me a few feet further into the next room that had a shitty TV, a super Nintendo, and an Xbox in it. One of the female roommates rounded the corner and introduced herself while her and Baruk made inside jokes of a jovial nature with each other. She asked me what I did and I gave her the same spiel I had a moment ago. I then asked her about her job.
“I’m a massage therapist,” She said in a laid back but proud way.
“I love massages,” I said, then I put on my over-the-top-clearly-I’m-kidding eligible young bachelor voice, “if you ever need anyone to practice some of your work on, I’m your guy.”
The joke fell on deaf ears. I would have been better off farting. She looked at me confused for a second. I reacted quickly, “Well at least you’re not a gynecologist because the joke I would have made in that situation is about me doing some freelance work in college.”
There was a brief pause while Baruk and her looked at each other and she let out a laugh and he followed by a forcing out a short awkward “tuh.” Baruk did not get the joke.
I was shown the open room, bathroom, and basement. Then I was led into the kitchen where I met two other people. One was a chubby plain looking girl that lived there and the other was their gay friend who wanted to exploit the awkward situation because he didn’t have anything better to do. I can’t blame the little shit for trying to make the environment more entertaining but I still don’t think it was his place to say anything.
And so it began; a four on one rapid fire barrage of questions. Before I could finish answering one question, someone else in the group would get bored and ask another and another while I was still finishing the first question.
-What are your thoughts on Video games?
-Why are you moving?
-What college did you go to?
-Can you cook?
-Are you one of those guys that really likes sports?
-Do you like gay people? What about gay marriage?
-Do you care about sharing bathrooms?
-What do you do for fun?
-Do you have a large TV that you would be willing to put in the common area?
I got through some of the basic questions and then we started weaving in questions that were clearly an attempt at getting me to admit something negative. The gay kid sat back curling his wrist around a beer bottle, “What do you do other than workout and drink?”
It was a loaded question insinuating that I didn’t have a life. This question was also coming from the same douche that asked me, “how do you feel about girls farting;” only moments earlier.
“I suppose it depends on the weekend. I travel, I enjoy checking out new things, I write.” I sat up on the counter to look more relaxed.
“You travel and do what? Drink?” The guy asked expected me to be thrown off or admit some character flaw. The others looked at him due to the audacity of the question and then back at me for the response.
“I mean, if you’re asking if I have a drinking problem I think that’s a bit over the line. I like meeting people, so yeah- often on these trips I’ll imbibe in some boozing. I’m still a young man.” I said put off a little by the tone in which the question was asked.
“What’s your favorite drug?” Asked Baruk looking at me pleased with himself.
Another loaded question.
“I mean I could answer this question and completely blow myself out of the water here. It’s a little unfair. Almost unreasonable isn’t it?”
“Well we want to know what kind of person is moving into our house.” One of the girls said.
“I have no shame in telling you guys anything about myself, I just think it’s a rather unfair question. Are we talking about all drugs?” I asked.
“Whatever you think it means.” Baruk said quickly before anyone else was able to step in and clarify to help me out.
I noted that the decor of the house had overtones of a “hippie” lifestyle, there was a super Nintendo sitting out, and one of the girls had an ironic tee-shirt on. I’d put my money on the chances of that house being full of stoners, especially since only one of them worked a regular 9-5 job.
“I guess, well- I’ve been to Amsterdam three times. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy weed but I haven’t smoked in months. It’s just not really something I go out of my way for. But if it’s around, I don’t have a problem with it.” I said impressing myself with the diplomatic wording of my answer.
“Well you know,” Baruk said, “food is a drug.”
I ran my fingers over my forehead and into my hair physically effected by the stupidity of the rationale we were now wading through. “So is LOVE Baruk!” I said throwing my hands in air out the absurdity of the direction the questions were going.
“Tell you what, maybe if we have time when I move in, we can have a long philosophical discussion about that.” I said getting a laugh out of the girls.
“Were you in a frat?” One of the girls asked me tilting her head.
I know that for some people this is a “deal breaker.” The assumptions and negative connotations that go along with this “title” aren’t good for your image until people get to know you first. I’ve found that people judge my actions differently if they know I was in fraternity. My intelligence, motives, and passions are immediately demoted and downgraded in most people’s eyes.
It’s easier for most people to use schemas to categorize other people and put them into “familiar buckets.” If I give any type of affirmative response to that question my character and morals are reduced in their eyes. In some circles my reputation drops to that of felon out on parole. I’m sorry a lot of guys have ruined this title, but I’d like to think I have a unique set of characteristics and passions that don’t fit the mold of the stereotypical “bro.”
I made my best attempt to convey this idea to the group in the kitchen but I wasn’t sure it really sunk in. I figured they had their own ideas and I wasn’t going to change their minds in the span of ten minutes in their kitchen especially the way questioning was going.
“Hey-so I Imagine you guys have gotten a good idea of what kind of person I am.” I said walking through the kitchen. “I think we’re getting off the rails now, I’m glad I got the chance to meet all you guys. You all will probably need some time to discuss, if you think I’m a good fit, please let me know. I’d be happy to move in. This seems like a great place to live.”
I really didn’t care about any of them; I just wanted an inexpensive place to hang my hat. I shook hands and everyone seemed very pleasant when I left.
Two days later I got a text from Baruk, “Everyone really liked you, do you think you could come by and meet the last roommate tonight?”
I jumped at the chance and later that evening I stopped by the house. On this visit I was greeted at the door by a taller hipster looking guy. He had a shorter haircut, a pencil thin mustache, and was wearing a skin tight ironic vintage shirt under a button up vest.
He invited me back into the kitchen as he was making himself dinner, “You’re the guy that works out and drinks right?”
I squinted at him. “Yeah well, I do more than that.” I said scratching the back of head.
We talked about work and the area for a little while as I got the impression that this hipster was not a fan of anything I had to say. He never made eye contact with me the entire time I was there. I tried joking with him, I made an effort to sound like I wanted the house for people living in it, and I even said I was good at fixing shit around the house because I knew they had a lazy landlord. Nothing seemed to change the tall hipster’s demeanor. I even complained about things that most everyone hates, because hipsters are world renown complainers- and I got nothing.
As we were finishing up, a second guy came into the living room and was being given the tour by one of the girls He was a slower moving medium build guy with a mop of blond hair on his head. When he introduced himself to the others I could clearly catch a stoner voice and mindset. He seemed in awe of everything around him. I can only describe him as Adam’s Sandler’s character from the hot chick.
“WOW! You guy’s got two refrigerators? That’s so tight.”
“Great isn’t it? We live in pretty crazy times.” I said elbowing the tall hipster getting a slight reaction out of him.
The weird pothead kid was now going through drawers in the pantry, “Who here buys gushers? Those are the best!” He said while opening another cabinet.
I laughed as I exited the kitchen with the hipster guy following me out; I wanted that kid to ruin his chances all on his own.
“It was good finally meeting you,” I said to the tall hipster. “You guys have my info, I can move in ASAP. I’d really like to do this if you guys are up for it.”
“Yeah, we’ll let you know.” He said plainly shaking my hand and closing the door behind me.
I didn’t have a clue as to how that went. I texted Barak and asked him when they might have an idea of what their decision was going to be. I wanted to make sure I had the chance to look at other places if this one was going to fall flat.
“You’re in the top three, we’ll have a decision later in the week,” he sent back.
The next morning I got on craigslist and did some more searching for a places to live to make sure that in case I didn’t get this house I wasn’t missing out on any other deals. I opened up the “rooms/shared” section of craigslist and spotted a familiar ad.
Barak had re-posted the original ad I had first responded to. I scanned through the entire ad and found that all the wording was exactly the same except for one minor addition to the about you section, “Must have good source of income, clean up after themselves, be respectful…” and in big capital letters, “NOT A BRO.”
…What a fucking joke. And there it was, even with all of my efforts to prove otherwise; I had given the impression that I was the quintessential bro. When did I start giving this impression? I didn’t high five anyone or brag about things that were given to me. I was really pissed. I had been very calculated with my behavior and even held back some of the “fun loving me” because I didn’t want to be too extreme right out of the gate. Was I really a bro?
I e-mailed Barak right away. I explained that my gregarious and confident demeanor can often be misconstrued for arrogance. I told him that it’s not uncommon that my outgoing nature can be intimidating to some people. The personality they saw was not a direct result of my time in a fraternity. That’s just me. That “behavior” (not that I felt I was at all out of line) had gotten me this far in life. I attached a video of Dom Mazzetti from youtube and said, “It’s not as if I’m THIS guy, seriously come on?! I hope you reconsider.”
He sent me a quick reply via text, “Hey Taylor, sorry about that. We all really liked you. We just wanted to cover all our bases and make sure we don’t miss anyone that we haven’t met yet.”
Note that he didn’t even try and deny that my visit had prompted an update to the ad. I responded and said it was “ok,” knowing full well what was happening. This was a guy that avoided conflict and wanted to sound nice so he tried to sugar coat the excuse for getting caught looking like an absolute douche.
Later that evening I received a an e-mail, “Hey Ryan, I wanted to thank you again for coming by and wanting to live with us is our modest home. We thought you were really cool and you were definitely up for contention but we’ve decided to go with someone else sad to tell you. I wish you all the best of luck in finding a place I’m sure you’ll find someplace cool. Hope to see you around town and shoot the shit soon.
Like I would ever grab a beer with these schmucks after wasting two trips to see their house just to be told “no.” My response, “I do appreciate the heads up.., Lol, thanks for considering me “breh””
At the end of the day, it was more of “a feather in my cap” than anything else. My overall presence, even at its lowest setting, had appeared to be so overwhelming for this group of people that they went to the trouble of making sure they didn’t encounter anyone within three shades of my personality again. I’ll wear that title like a crown, even if I don’t fully agree with all its intricacies.