A couple of years ago, I moved into the worst apartment I'd ever seen. If real-life adhered to Hollywood logic, no one would let you sign the lease for a place like this until you provided proof that you were a serial killer.
Granted, I'm in my 20s, so this was pretty much par for the course. Tiny, cramped space? Check. Too, too many spiders? Check. The sudden suspicion that ghosts are real? Well, like, of course.
The truth is, I could handle all that. For affordable rent, you take what you can get.
There was one detail that I wasn't quite cool with, though: My apartment was part of a small, three-unit building behind a strip club.
Whenever I mention this, guys always joke that the experience couldn't have been that bad. Girls getting paid to undress in my front yard? Sweet, bro.
Nah, not quite. During my stay at Satan's Crash Pad, I learned that living behind a cheap strip club in rural New York State is like experiencing the first act of a slasher movie every single night. That's because…
Taking out the trash was like tempting fate.
Fun fact: In New York, if a strip club features fully nude dancers (as opposed to merely topless), they can't serve alcohol.
This makes sense, right? The combination of naked women, horny dudes and liquor could result in some unsafe situations.
That said, while I can't speak for all strip club owners, those who ran this particular establishment were more than happy to look the other way if their customers simply brought their own booze and drank it in the parking lot.
The parking lot that was, once again, my front yard.
Normally, this didn't cause me any problems. Thursday nights were different, though. On Thursday nights, I dragged the garbage and recyclables out to the street for pick-up the next morning. This meant walking through that parking lot, past the most depressing tailgate parties you can imagine, trying to simply avoid eye contact.
I wasn't always successful. On one occasion, a “gentleman” approximately twice my height (with half as many teeth, though) decided to spark up a conversation. He was gripping a 40-ounce bottle of some beverage even a high school sophomore would decline, wearing clothes that said “I own an absolutely shocking number of lethal weapons” and speaking in an accent that shouldn't exist outside of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
Fortunately for me, he was too drunk to realize that I lived in the building behind the strip club. He was more than a little dazed, and I got the sense he would have asked to crash on my couch. I also got the sense he would have removed my organs while I slept so he could sell them on the black market.
Unfortunately for me, he did decide to spend the next half hour regaling me with stories about the shack in the woods where he lived, the numerous run-ins with the law that dotted his life's timeline and the way he planned on getting home that evening if he decided he didn't want to pay for a cab.
(He planned on offering sexual favors to women in exchange for a ride. In case you were wondering.)
I got the worst trespassers.
When I first moved into the building, the two other units were vacant and would stay that way for the next four months. Aside from the strip club, my nearest neighbors were a small office that was closed at night, and a motel only slightly less disturbing than the one in “Psycho.” Behind my building was a sizeable patch of woods by the highway, perfect for dumping bodies.
This is what horror writers are describing when they ominously use the word “secluded.”
To top it all off, my “front door” was technically in the back of the building, facing the woods. If you wanted to engage in any sort of activity best kept hidden from law enforcement and the prying eyes of onlookers, that area of the property was ideal.
And up until I moved in, I'm pretty sure the strip club patrons knew that.
On one of my first nights there, I woke up to find a car parked directly in front of my door, with two passengers inside. I'm not sure exactly what they were doing, but it didn't look G-rated.
Before thinking to call the cops, I flipped on the front light. The driver of the car bolted out and stopped in front of my front door window, looking straight at me with a pair of “Please don't get me arrested again” eyes.
“Hey, want us to leave your property?”
Luckily, once people realized that the building was no longer empty, this trend calmed down. That said, next time you're apartment-hunting, before signing the lease, ask yourself if this looks like a good spot to commit crimes without getting noticed.
If the answer is yes, keep looking.
It was awkward for my family.
To get to my apartment, you had to drive through the strip club parking lot. When it came to having visitors, most of my friends were cool with that, even if it was a little awkward.
My family was another story.
To be fair, this never stopped my mom from dropping by to see how everything was going, but it was easy enough to tell that she wasn't thrilled with my living conditions. No matter your age, some parents will always worry about you.
This is especially the case if, every time they visit, they're reminded of the fact that as soon as the sun goes down, your property is infested with the shadiest characters this side of a Tarantino film.
There's was no easy way to mention it.
I moved into that apartment with my girlfriend at the time, but within a couple of months, I found myself single and, after the mandatory “What does it all mean?” phase, did what any responsible adult does in such situations: I created an online dating profile.
As many of us know, first dates are frequently awkward.
Now imagine being asked where you live and having to admit to your date that your apartment is right behind the notoriously creepy local strip club that everyone jokes about and no one dares enter.
Luckily, I have a pretty self-deprecating sense of humor and was usually able to laugh about this. But so were my dates. They laughed about it. Loudly. And way too much.
I don't blame them for never wanting to see my place. I didn't want to see it either, and I lived there.
I was basically living in a dorm room again.
If you've been through college, you can handle obnoxious neighbors. After graduation, though, it's understandable if you'd like to avoid having that type of experience again.
In other words, you shouldn't live behind a strip club. It's just an amplified version of everything you hated about freshman year.
Instead of kids getting a little too loud after a couple of beers, you've got terrifying grown men huddling in your yard and drinking away their sorrows. Instead of the folks upstairs having loud sex, you've got a mass of horny guys surrounded by scantily clad women. Instead of the RA knocking on your next door neighbor's door because they smelled pot smoke, the cops are outside because... well, you don't really know what happened, and you're pretty sure you don't want to.
Once again, at this stage in life, an awful apartment is to be expected. But if you've got the foolish notion that, for a dude, having a strip club in your front yard would make the experience a little less painful, please reconsider.
The best thing I got out of that place was inspiration for a horror screenplay that I'm still too traumatized to write.