The first open house I ever went to was for an apartment near Mt. Vernon Square about two blocks away from the convention center. The apartment itself was the third floor of a converted townhouse, no doubt the work of a gay couple from Chevy Chase or Fairfax dabbling in real estate on the side. Everything was pretty and new, down to the roommate, a congressional staffer from the Midwest. He was the embodiment of corn-fed gorgeousness. I listened to his smalltalk halfheartedly, spellbound by his looks and the prospect of seeing him walk around communal areas naked. The room was less impressive. It was windowless and maybe 6x9 with enough room to fit a twin bed and almost nothing else. It kind of reminded me of that scene from Kill Bill where Uma Thurman wakes up inside a coffin. I also thought it was grimy that I would be paying the same price as him while he slept in the spacious master. Drew, the roommate, asked me if I would contact him to follow up. I said I would. I did not.
A few weeks later, I went to another open house in the Chinatown neighborhood. The apartment and room were slightly larger and it was part of a complex with amenities including a gym and a pool. But as soon as I walked into the unit, I knew I wasn't going to live there. It was one of the dirtiest places I've ever seen. There was uneaten and spilled food on the coffee table. Piles of dishes in the sink. Dust and grime on all the furniture. The carpet was discolored and the entire place smelled weird. It was cheap and conveniently located, so he may have been able to sell me on it, but the roommate was blasé during our entire meeting. His face only lit up when our time was over and two blonde girls arrived for the same tour. I seriously doubt any girl would be interested in living with such a dirty person though. He was pathetic, I don't even remember his name. He is a college kid that never grew up, and most likely never will. Mostly, I'm just annoyed that he had the audacity to not clean up before an open house and then act completely nonchalant about it. I didn't call him either. I still see him post ads on Craigslist to this day.
Perhaps the most impressive open house I went to was in a complex in Columbia Heights. The building was beautiful, the apartment was beautiful, the bedroom was beautiful. The roommate was beautiful but something about him seemed off. It may have been his ad, with glittering statements like, "To be in contention you must have enjoyed chugging a 4loco before Chuck Schumer banned them, raging house parties and loud bars. If you're a homebody, this home ain't for you. The unit is somewhat small, so if you are not outgoing and you act like a hermit you will get annoyed and wind up passive aggressive." During the tour, he couldn't stop disparaging poor people, people who eat mac & cheese, and the "Petworth hood." He reminded me a lot of Patrick Bateman, especially when he pointed at his TV and said, "This is my new $1,000 TV." In later emails, he would demand that I reimburse him for all the things he bought.
I told myself to grin and bear it. This is not America's Next Top Best Friend, I just need a place to not be homeless in. Needless to say, we had a confrontation about rent even before signing the lease. He went on this rant about how, "some people wouldn't think it's fair for me to squeeze my life into the den and pay less rent." I was not about to have some brat from Long Island tell me about the unfairness of life, so I called it off.
Sometimes I wonder if I treat this housing search too much like I treat my search for love: impossibly high expectations with too much emotional investment in things that I know won't work out. I'm also a size queen in both regards.