Finding an ideal bachelor apartment is as simple as finding
a unicorn in hear...
"A Perfect Place To Caper"
by Gene Harvey
Vol. 1, No. 10, September 1957
THERE COMES a time in
every single man's life when he dreams of setting himself up in a bachelor
apartment. Married men dream about it too, but that's as far as it gets.
So, following, are a few words of advice for the young bachelor on the
selection and care of a bachelor apartment. I specify young bachelor, because
if you've reached middle age, still single and fancy-free, you don't need
any advice from me.
Anyway, assuming you're employed and reasonably
solvent, you tell your friends that you're tired of living in furnished
rooms and hotels, you want a home, a place of your own. One of them snickers
and reminds you that he warned you about that sneaky house dick at the
Lovin’ Arms Hotel, and brother, did you look silly coming down the fire
Treating this with the contempt it deserves,
you set about the first step, which is finding an apartment that pleases
you in the general neighborhood you desire and rents for a price you can
afford. This, of course, is just about as simple as locating a unicorn
in heat, or the Holy Grail, but you'll have to find out the hard way. And
just to make it even more sticky, we'll assume that you live in New York
City, merely because more people live there than almost anywhere else.
So you register with several renting agents,
informing them that you want a one-bedroom apartment, let's say, with a
kitchenette. One agent, a Mrs. Toomer, seems particularly promising. She
has about sixty excess pounds, wispy grey-blonde hair and a general air
of efficient imbecility.
"I'm looking for a one-bedroom apartment,"
you say, "around Gramercy Park."
"Of course," gurgles Mrs. Toomer as though
everybody lived around Gramercy Park. "How much can you pay?"
You've been to other agents so you say, craftily,
"Not over a hundred dollars."
Mrs. Toomer clicks her dentures amiably, then
beams at a card.
"Ah, here's a lovely place! The most delightful
high ceilings and a skylight, on Charles Street in the Village. They're
asking two twenty-five, but…"
"I want to be near Gramercy Park," you bleat
"Yes, of course," she nods absently. "This
is lovely, though. Perfect for an artist. And on a two year lease I think
you could get it for two ten…"
"A hundred is tops," you mutter, "and I'm
not an artist."
"Yes, of course. Well, how about a one-room
studio on 79th Street? I have a listing here for a charming place at a
"Gramercy Park," you grate through clenched
teeth, and not over a hundred dollars."
"Mmmm-m-m," she hums, reproachfully, studying
her cards, "a hundred dollars, eh? Well, how would you like something around
Gramercy Park? That's a lovely old section…"
"That's it!" you explode.
"I have one here, but it's only one bedroom…"
"I want one bedroom," you moan.
"Oh!" Her look reproaches you for keeping
it a secret. "Of course, there isn't any skylight."
"Who said skylight?" you gasp.
"I did," she says, hurt. "I just said there
isn't any skylight."
"But I don't want a skylight," you hiss.
Mrs. Toomer looks at you compassionately.
"Well, naturally, being an artist I thought you wanted a skylight studio."
She scribbles an address on a card and smiles her forgiveness. You go look
at it and tell me how you like it." You take the card and a deep breath.
"How much is this one?" you murmur.
"They're asking three hundred," she breathes
confidentially, "but I'm sure you can get it for two fifty if…" Half an
hour later, when you have wiped away all fingerprints and washed the blood
off your hands you take a walk around Gramercy Park and, in desperation,
rent a one-room "efficiency" with a tired refrigerator and a clandestine
electric hotplate in a closet, for a hundred twenty-five. Two weeks after
you've signed the lease six renting agents phone you to tell you about
apartments that are exactly what you want for ninety dollars.
Anyway, such as it is, you have an apartment.
And being a bachelor not addicted to swinging a broom you arrange for a
maid to come in on an hourly basis who, you are assured, will keep the
place in applets order. And she does keep it like apple pie: damp, sticky
and crumbly, as well as drinking up all of your gin.
At the end of the month, when you get the
bill, the only thing thoroughly cleaned is yourself. So you fire the maid,
learn to defrost the refrigerator (the simplest way is to build a fire
in it) and either find a dim corner of the basement to pile your garbage
and trash or else just throw it out the window, like I do. And don't tell
me I should say "as I do." I like to do it.
But all this, you may say, applies to any
apartment. What of good old l'amour; what of the spirited seductions, the
evenings bacchanalian? Well, hold the phone--I'm coming to that.
But first a word of warning: obviously, the
last thing you want in a bachelor apartment is more bachelors. Nevertheless,
unless you exercise great caution, that's what you're going to be loaded
with, all of them looking for fun, females and free drinks. Plus all the
visiting firemen in town, usually married, who want to make like bachelors
and whose rallying cry is invariably: "Let's have a party at your place--you
get the girls!"
The only way of coping with these, short of
a submachine gun, is to tell them, furtively, you're being dispossessed
and are under investigation by the FBI for subversive activities. Then
hang a "Quarantined! Leprosy!" sign on the door. This may work, though
I don't guarantee it.
At any rate, you have your apartment and now
you're ready for some real action. Let's say you have a bubbly babe all
lined up and you're prepared to have your apartment investment pay off.
Fine. Let me caution you, however, to avoid the "shooting fish in a barrel"
gambit, as it was practiced by a nauseating friend of mine I shall call
Homer Feep because that was his improbable name.
Homer, an ardent reader of DeMaupassant, came
into a modest legacy by ingeniously poisoning his maternal uncle, and immediately
set about gratifying his dream by furnishing an apartment he called "Lecher's
Lair." it was complete, with a well-stocked bar, shaded lights, divans
and pillows galore and even a supply of etchings.
Now, Homer thought, he was really ready to
Live It Up! In a cocktail lounge he spotted a luscious, long-limbed lass
and decided she was his dish if he could only make the grade. So, turning
on all the Feep charm (it was only a quarter-turn) he scraped an acquaintance
and bought a few drinks, while the scraped acquaintance went howling off
into the night. (Yeah--if Groucho said it you'd be screaming!)
Finally, he tactfully suggested that they drop into his "digs" for
some hi-fi music and drinks.
"Sure," she said. "Why not?"
"It's—uh—a bachelor apartment," Homer said,
showing that he was not only a Feep but feeble-minded.
"Oh, do they have married apartments?” asked
the broad. "Let's go."
Undaunted, Homer played the game and he played
it square because he was a square. He loaded the record player with Music
To Muzzle by, and plied her with drinks exotic and rare. And then, with
a Basil Rathbone leer (circa 1935) that he had acquired from a late TV
movie, he suggested that she might like to get into something more comfortable.
"Sure," she said. "Mink, maybe:" as she jumped
up and peeled off the dress which was apparently all she was wearing. "Look,
Buster, you been real sweet. But time's a'wastin' and I gotta lotta tricks
to turn tonight. So if you'll get up a sawbuck...
Homer was so flustered that he didn't even
hear her mention that they could have gone to her place on account of it
Another tip or two: don't get an apartment
on or below the street level; the type you've seen in one of the many versions
of "My Sister Eileen." I had one, and it was a charming apartment. Also,
there was a tavern down the block. Aside from the merry prattle of childish
voices all day, and the neighborhood dogs who fancied my windows as a pissoir,
it was the drunk parade at night that got me down. No matter where a drunk
began his peregrinations, it seemed, he invariably wound up in front of
my open window. Wound up and let go, if you follow me. Some of the more
venturesome would stick their heads in the window bellowing happily: "Got
any dames in there?" and then let go.
And then there are doors. Naturally, there
should be a door to your apartment: it makes ingress and egress easier.
But not just one door! Because, sure as hell, the night you're working
on a delectable doll that will be the night your rich aunt from Dubuque,
who is going to remember you in her will, will show up, unannounced. You
say your aunt is from Morristown and poor as a churchmouse? Well, then,
hell man, give her the heave-ho! Your chick may get chilly!
Re beds: Have only one small, single bed in
the pad. I can think of nothing you might do or want to do that a single
bed won't be adequate for, except putting up creeps for the night. And
then you no longer have a bachelor apartment: it's a free dormitory.
Oh, yes…if you can't find a proper apartment,
call me up. My wife's making me give mine up."