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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 escape!
     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 mildly. 
     "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 hundred eighty-five..."
     "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 was nearer.
     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." 

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