We all have our pockets of high-maintenance needs. Maybe you’re chill with anything a waiter brings you, but it drives you nuts when other drivers don’t use their turn signals. Maybe you brush it off when your roommate leaves dishes in the sink for a week, but the vending machine at work absolutely must have diet cream soda or your entire day goes down the drain.
These triggers are a weird little part of life. I call them the Red Buttons of Existence. I have several — people spitting mouthwash on bus seats, for example — and this weekend, I gained one more: apartment showings. As I’m moving out at the end of the month, my landlord has been in the throes of finding new tenants, which apparently involves turning my home into a public area multiple times a week.
When the first showing rolled around, I didn’t think it would be that bad. I’d made plans to be away anyway. Then the landlord’s representative showed up half an hour early, walked in without knocking, announced that he was there to see if the place was clean enough, looked around critically, and said, “Well … I guess it’s good enough.”
Gentlemen, I know you might have questions about how women’s minds work. We’re all different, but here’s a good rule of thumb: Never walk into a woman’s house uninvited, inspect her housekeeping, and say, “Well … I guess it’s good enough.” No. Never. It took a good two hours, three cups of tea, and a piece of lemon shortbread before I stopped contemplating a particular use of my right knee — an action that would not be ideal for the task at hand, but would, in a pinch, be “good enough.”
Since then, I’ve grown to have a bit of sympathy for the people making the rounds of various apartments. All of those white walls and balconies and parking garages must blur together after a while, and I wouldn’t be doing my duty as a fellow renter if I didn’t try to help out these poor people a bit and make my apartment a bit more memorable. Here are eight ideas I’ve had to snag visitors’ interest. That’s what landlords want, right?
- Place all living and dining room furniture in the bedrooms. Transform the dining and living rooms into bedrooms.
- Chop a lot of Bing cherries in the kitchen. Put the cherries in the fridge, but don’t clean up the juice or put away the knife. (Bonus points if you let the juice splash down over the cabinets and onto the floor.)
- Invite a local bagpiper to practice in your living room during showings. Offer visitors homemade haggis.
- When visitors arrive, open the door only partway and eye them suspiciously. Ask the following questions: “Have you come to see the apartment?”, “Is there to be a full moon tonight?”, and “Does the emperor sleep in an iron bed?” When visitors have finished answering, nod somberly, hand them a briefcase, and shut the door.
- Turn all clocks to face the wall (or, if budget allows, smash in the clock faces). Remove all light bulbs and doorknobs. Write “THEY COME” on the mirrors in lipstick.
- Hang black curtains over the windows and throw black sheets over the furniture. Dress in black and greet visitors at the door by saying “Thank you for meeting me here today” in sepulchral tones. Guide them into the living room, where you have arranged thirteen lit candles in a circle. Address visitors as Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie, and Tsar Nicholas II. Grill them thoroughly about their respective histories.
- Rebrand your apartment as Professor Heschl von Lipwig’s Traveling Flea Circus. Set up exhibits throughout the apartment, sell popcorn and cotton candy from the kitchen, and charge admission. Explain in a heavy German accent that the circus is a permanent fixture of the apartment. Frame your explanation as though the landlord offers in-house circuses as a perk, like free parking or on-site composting.
- Arrange a half-eaten meal on the table. Crumple some clothes in the chair as though they’ve just been taken off. Add an open Bible with Matthew 24:36–44 highlighted.
Any other ideas out there? Conversely, what’s your most memorable apartment-visiting experience?
Photo credits: Tourists by Hans; ocean by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay. Also, shout-out to the fantastic web series The Guild for the “clear blue ocean” line. If you haven’t watched it yet, series 1 starts here.