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Hi! My name is Alex, and this is my mom!

We're very close, and I make an effort to call her at least once a day. But as a single 26-year-old, the majority of our conversations end with her asking me about my love life and insisting on setting me up with someone. Don't get me wrong, I love my mom and respect her opinion, but I don't really want to go on a blind date with her friend from bridge club's nephew, who lives across the country.

The only thing I love more than my mom is TV. My friends and I were recently discussing our favorite old reality TV shows, and Room Raiders got thrown into the mix. I LOVED THIS SHOW. There was something so insanely entertaining about watching someone explore a stranger's home and decide if the inhabitant was an eligible romantic partner. This conversation got me thinking about a potential experiment...

I was going to make my mom's dream come true, but I was going to have a little fun with it. The guys' apartments would be the defining factor to create a kind of RENTlationship, if you will. I explained to her that I would let her set me up with a guy, but there would be some rules.

"I don't understand, but I'm in."
 —My mom

I asked friends and coworkers if they had any single friends who were willing to have a mother look at all their personal belongings. This proved to be a lot harder than I thought, but I ended up with three awesome gentlemen!

Job: Project Manager
Hobbies: I like reading, writing, collecting records, visiting museums, riding bikes (self-powered and motor-powered).
Dream Date: It depends on the girl and my current mood. It could be rolling over to the skating rink or having a quiet night at an art gallery. I like to get to know someone on a first date, so an activity that lends to more conversation or collaboration works best.
Favorite Food: BBQ
What will Mom think of your place? I think Mom will respond well to the cleanliness of the room. On the other hand, she may not enjoy the clutter on the tea table. Overall, I feel my room represents my tastes and attentiveness while capturing the controlled chaos that is everyone's life...I just hope Mom likes it!

Job: Associate Tour Director
Hobbies: I enjoy concerts, hiking, going to the beach, reading, and bowling.
Dream Date: We would check out an art show/exhibit/museum, followed by a tapas-style dinner, and then cap it off with some dessert or hunt down some local live music.
Biggest Pet Peeve: Constantly checking your phone in the middle of conversation.
What will Mom think of your place? I think she will like the color scheme, how open and bright the living room is, and all the nice plants and furniture. She may not like how small the kitchen is, though. I think my space shows how much music I listen to and (hopefully) that I'm a clean person who wants to come home to somewhere comfortable.

Job: Video Distribution Operations
Hobbies: I write one of the top whiskey blogs in America, so I spend a lot of time writing and attending/hosting whiskey testings.
Dream Date: We would hit up the Grand Central Market and have a quick stroll through the Last Bookstore art gallery. Then, we would hop over to The Arts District for breweries, games, and food.
Favorite Animal: Dragon. Unless you mean a real animal, then it would be an eagle or owl... some kind of a large flying bird.
What will Mom think of your place? She'll definitely notice the massive quantity of booze in my house, which relates to my whiskey-writing hobby. It may get a stern look, but hopefully combined with the board games and cooking paraphernalia, it will give her the impression that I like to have people over and host game nights.

It only took my mom an hour to figure out how to open up the photos on her computer. So obviously we were off to a great start!

Mom: He must live alone based on the size of his apartment, and I think he has more of a mature, older vibe. There’s barely any clutter— he’s very neat and tidy! The paintings, the records, everything is so symmetrical and organized. That’s HUGE!

“That’s huge” is my mom’s favorite phrase to describe something as being a big deal.

Alex: So, can you get a feel for any of his hobbies?

Mom: There’s a motorcycle helmet and jacket, so he must ride. Your dad would love that! And he likes music, especially rock n’ roll, so he has good taste there. The two bikes tell me he’s athletic and active, and there’s no TV! So he probably likes to spend his time outdoors.

Alex: But I like TV.

Mom: Well, you should take a tip from this guy and get your butt outside!

Alex: ...

Mom: It seems like he would be environmentally friendly since he rides a bike and has that reusable water bottle. I imagine him being health conscious. He definitely likes a good salad.

Alex: Why do you say that?

Mom: He doesn’t cook much by the looks of his kitchen, and I can just feel it. He’s a salad guy.

Mom: You can tell he lives with roommates since there is more stuff and a mix of different artwork. It’s a little more cluttered compared to the last place, but still neat overall! There are a lot of albums and music-festival posters on the walls, so he’s definitely into music. He has a record player, too? I guess record players are cool again!

Alex: So besides music, do you think he has any other interests?

Mom: He cooks. Look at his kitchen! There’s olive oil, a set of knives, and a pan still out. With that big TV and living room, I bet he has the guys over to watch the game or play video games. Those are video games under the TV, right? I’m getting a “college” vibe from this place. I wouldn’t be surprised if the boys that live here are in their early twenties or still in college.

Mom: [laughs] This guy really likes TV! One in the living room and one by his bed.

Alex: See! Now that's my kinda guy.

Mom: Maybe he works out while he watches TV since he has those weights and things under his dresser. I also love that he put a little plant and painting in his bathroom. Nice attention to detail!

Mom: Woah! That’s a lot of booze! So, I’m thinking this guy either just really likes to have a good time, or he’s in the liquor industry. Maybe he sells it?

Alex: Check out his little mini bar!

Mom: Oh, this guy entertains! Look at all those glasses and shakers. He definitely likes to have his friends over. You can tell he cooks from the spices in the kitchen — no one just has a bunch of spices lying around unless they use them! His hand towels are crisp and nicely aligned. I like that.

Alex: Do you think he has any roommates?

Mom: Hmmm, yes. There are a few pairs of shoes at the door. Around seven? They all look like men’s shoes, so he must live with a few other guys.

Mom: OHHH! A DOG! I love that he’s an animal person. That’s a great sign!

Alex: SUCH A GOOD DOG! Anyway, what about his bedroom? Did you notice anything in there?

Mom: He has A LOT of books and games! You know what? I actually think this guy lives alone. He seems older and more settled in because of all the stuff he’s accumulated over the years, and he has the responsibility of taking care of his dog. Let's look at the picture of his dog again!

I had no clue who my mom was going to choose. She seemed very impressed by the cleanliness of Dustin's apartment, but she also liked the supposed cooking and hosting skills of Pat and Josh. After scrolling through the photos one last time, she looked at me with an excited grin. Too excited.


My mom loved how Dustin's apartment showed that he lived an active and healthy lifestyle while displaying a variety of interests, such as riding bikes, reading, and listening to music. She probably used the phrase "participates in life" about — I wanna get the number right — 500 times while describing him. It's like she was getting paid every time she said it.

When this all started, I was sure my mom was going to pick someone who displayed interests similar to mine, like TV, board games, and dogs. Instead, she went with the ol' opposites-attract approach and chose someone she thought would help me discover new interests. Ya know, someone who would push me to "participate in life"™.

With my fate decided, it was time for the big date! Was Dustin going to be the salad-eating motorcyclist of my dreams? Does he have a secret TV hidden somewhere in his apartment? Is his name even Dustin?!

His name is definitely Dustin, and we met up for food and drinks. We chatted about work, our families, and music. He told me that even though he doesn't watch TV, he's a big reader, and this topic spurred the discovery of our mutual love of true crime. With our combined knowledge, we could open our own detective agency! When the time came to order our food, HE. GOT. A. SALAD. I don't know how my mom guessed it, but Dustin was indeed "a salad guy." Also, I got a grilled cheese if anyone cares.

After we finished our meals, we headed to an escape room where we were trapped in a room and had to solve a bunch of puzzles to find the way out. I was secretly terrified because I had never done this before, and I really didn't want to have a claustrophobia-induced panic attack on a first date. On the other hand, I'm a big fan of puzzles, and I was kinda excited to try something new. Well, would ya look at that! Dustin really did end up pushing me out of my comfort zone. And guess what?!

WE WON!! I FELT SO ALIVE! I was on an adrenaline high like no other after the escape room, and I think it's safe to say that Dustin and I are geniuses.

Turns out Dustin's room was a spot-on representation of his eclectic range of interests and his fun, adventurous personality. In the end, I learned two very important lessons from this experience: My mom truly does know best, and I really need to clean my room. EACH of these guys' rooms were tidier than mine!

Photographs by Lauren Zaser unless otherwise noted/Design by Kirby Darland

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