Cooking with a friend while showing the apartment?
February 6, 2012 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Would it be weird to be cooking dinner with a friend while showing an apartment?

My friend, single woman middle twenties, is looking for a new roommate to replace her outgoing roommate.
We were talking tonight about a guy coming by to see the place on Wednesday, and she asked if I could be at home in case anything happens (I live about 2 blocks away). We already had plans to make dinner together on Thursday, and I asked her if we should change the plans to Wednesday instead, that way I would be around when he came by. She and I both are up for moving the dinner plans, but we can't decide if that would be weird, or sort of inviting and homey.

For what it's worth, this is not any sort of romantic dinner, mostly just beer, cooking, and work gossip.

What think you, hive mind?
posted by aloiv2 to Human Relations (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I vote inviting and homey, unless the person is sort of Felix Unger Jr., and that might be good to know up front.
posted by timsteil at 7:27 PM on February 6, 2012

I think it's weird.

Cook and eat dinner after the guy leaves.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:28 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think it's fine, but you should time it so the guy doesn't feel like he's interrupting anything. So, if he gets there and you and your friend are just hanging out and there's maybe something in the oven, that's okay. But if he gets there and she's, I don't know, torching a baked Alaska and you're busy babysitting a risotto, that might be a little awkward for the dude.
posted by kitty teeth at 7:28 PM on February 6, 2012 [25 favorites]

Isn't she going to have a chat with the guy to find out more about him? Where are you going to go while they're talking?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:31 PM on February 6, 2012

Unless you are willing to invite that person to join dinner with you, I'd vote to wait until they left.
posted by markblasco at 7:32 PM on February 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think it's weird to be cooking dinner when you know someone else is coming over unless they're invited for dinner, which you don't want to do for this guy right off the bat, so I think you should wait until after he comes over to start dinner.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:34 PM on February 6, 2012

Either he's going to maybe expect and invitation to join you, or he's going to feel like he's interrupting, and perhaps rush his visit. Neither sounds ideal.
posted by rtha at 7:34 PM on February 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

When my wife & I adopted our cats we first visited them at their "foster home." When we turned up for the scheduled visit, we found the owner making dinner and sharing a bottle of wine with a friend. It was surprisingly awkward - we couldn't help but feel like we were intruding on their thing, and we consequently didn't get any of the information we were hoping to get. Despite that specific experience, I still think it's certainly *possible* to do something like that, but I would encourage you to be hyper-aware of the imposition on the potential roommate.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:39 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by rhizome at 7:40 PM on February 6, 2012

I agree with kitty teeth.. I dont think its weird but would wait for the cooking til after he's left or at least she needs to be free to to show him around even if you are in the kitchen.

Certainly she needs to take 5-10 minutes to show him around the house and maybe 10-15 mins question time, maybe 10 mins more again if she wants to offer him a drink and see what his personality is like. If she's offering him a drink & your cooking it might seem rude not to invite him to eat too which, though would be super polite, may not what anyone really wants necessarily.

My only opinion apart from that is he might assume you are like a live-in partner or regular visitor if you're cooking dinner while she's conducting interviews ( I would) and he might not expect that as part of what was advertised.

also, he should be able to ask her questions regarding the rental / living conditions in a comfortable way without feeling intimidated by another persons presence who doesn't live there. It might be awkward to do that if you (her guest) is in the kitchen cooking dinner.

Then again maybe not? depends on this guy.
posted by Under the Sea at 7:44 PM on February 6, 2012

Tactless on multiple levels. Showing your apartment is a big deal; you should give it your undivided attention.
posted by John Cohen at 7:48 PM on February 6, 2012

Prep: OK.

Active sauteeing/flambeeing/similar: Weird.

Something already in the oven, people hanging out: OK.

The hostess just can't be so busy she can't be available to walk around. Guest stays in the kitchen monitoring whatever (non-crazy) cooking activity is happening, hostess walks around,e explains friend situation and how often that kind of thing happens, and anything else in another room.
posted by Miko at 7:48 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

In fact if I were you guys I would arrange for you to drop in say 20-25 minutes after he actually arrives with groceries in hand. She can tell him as soon as he rocks up that she has dinner plans at "X - o'clock" and that way you're in close proximity to come quicker if anything is truly out of sorts.
posted by Under the Sea at 7:48 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you want to be inviting and homey, invite the person to a dinner in your home. Otherwise, cook when business is over.
posted by griphus at 7:48 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

If I had an appointment with your friend, to see if I would be a good replacement for her out-going roommate, and I showed up at the arranged time to find that she had also arranged a dinner event with someone else, I would feel like she didn't think my appointment was a valuable use of her time. I'd be put-off that she would not give me her actual attention at the time we had arranged to meet to determine whether or not we should be roommates.

YMMV, but why are you trying to move your nonconflicting plans to conflict with her other obligations?
posted by crush-onastick at 7:50 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think it could be inviting is you actually do invite the guy to join
posted by atetrachordofthree at 7:50 PM on February 6, 2012

Agree with most, this seems like a weird idea. I don't feel like there's anything homey about people making a dinner you're not invited to. I'd want to make myself scarce so you could get on with your evening.
posted by sweetkid at 7:51 PM on February 6, 2012

I think it would be OK if this were a big, bustling house with lots of housemates where people cooked together often, but in this situation, it's not the best idea. He's not just seeing a room to rent, he's trying to gauge roommate chemistry with your friend, and it's unfair for him not to get her full attention.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:53 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Were I the guy coming over to see the place, I'd be a little insulted if the two of you were in the kitchen cooking while I'm supposed to be shown around. And I'd likely not want to rent from someone who doesn't want to put too much effort into showing me around.
posted by fso at 7:55 PM on February 6, 2012

Your presence already makes it awkward dynamic-wise, and if you're making dinner together then it just gets weird. If she's really nervous about having a stranger alone in her house, I like Under the Sea's advice -- but she might also want to consider vetting potential roommates before letting them view anyway (previous roommates, etc).
posted by sm1tten at 8:08 PM on February 6, 2012

I vote for awkward, too. If she's nervous about being alone with a stranger I'd second sm1tten's suggestion of vetting roommates before inviting them to look at the place and even meeting them first on neutral ground if that helps (a former housemate of mine asked me to meet at a coffeeshop before inviting me to look at the apartment and it wasn't as weird as it sounds).

Alternatively, you could always go for the old standby of calling her a few minutes after he's due to arrive. She excuses herself to take the call and you have a prearranged code word/phrase to signify whether or not he seems creepy. And she makes it clear to Potential New Roommate that someone else knows he's there.

Has Outgoing Roommate moved already? I know the person whose room is being shown isn't usually present but it seems like it might be the less awkward choice in this instance.
posted by camyram at 8:34 PM on February 6, 2012

As someone who's been shown countless apartment and had numerous roommate interviews, I think this is nice, homey and inviting. It immediately brings the guards down and says "if you live here, this is what it'd be like everyday."

That said, it'd be mighty awkward if s/he was mighty awkward. In other words, if you didn't like the person at all (or vice versa), the bonhomie would turn completely fake very fast.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 8:54 PM on February 6, 2012

I think it's completely reasonable to be prepping dinner, as long as it is something that can be easily paused. I'm pretty sure that one of my current roommates was making brownies when I looked at the place.
posted by asphericalcow at 9:12 PM on February 6, 2012

Genuinely weirded out that so many people would be weirded out by this. I would in no way find this offputting, personally. But then, I personally would not really want a housemate who felt like our relationship had to be super serious. I would prefer a housemate who was relaxed and friendly and liked to cook to one who felt that ours was solely a business transaction and that any social activity in our shared space was an imposition.
posted by Scientist at 10:35 PM on February 6, 2012

So I guess what I'm saying is that if you do this then you might be selecting for a certain sort of roommate, but one which I personally would prefer. Whether you would prefer this sort of roommate is up to you, of course.
posted by Scientist at 10:36 PM on February 6, 2012

I wouldn't find this weird or off putting. If I was the friend coming over I would rock up 10 or so minutes after the potential roomie and get started on dinner prep OR if you want to be there beforehand just keep cooking whatever and let your friend chat to potential roomie. Why should life stop because someone is viewing the house?
posted by latch24 at 12:53 AM on February 7, 2012

I'm surprised this is considered weird. Pretty sure this has already happened to me more than 10 times in my life. I never thought twice of it. I've actually felt more guilty when it's been someone cooking alone at home, and I show up to look at the place, because then they have to stop. There being more people in the kitchen means they watch the meal while we go off to see the rooms and talk.

It'd be different if the guy was looking at taking over the whole apartment, but the key thing here is it's a roommate situation.
posted by mannequito at 1:59 AM on February 7, 2012

I personally would be able to handle someone cooking and living their life in an apartment I was looking at. Depends on how it's handled, though.
posted by krilli at 2:44 AM on February 7, 2012

Only really weird if you are actually eating or actively involved in the preparation of it while he's there. Otherwise, I think it's fine.
posted by mleigh at 3:38 AM on February 7, 2012

You're in NY? Do whatever you want! Anywhere else, you would have to convince him to take the room. In NY, he has to convince her that he should get it.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:30 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's only awkward if you make it awkward. It's amazing the strange things you can do in this world and still make people comfortable with if you are charming and kind. Grace, warmth, and and an outgoing personality trump all.
posted by jjmoney at 9:36 AM on February 7, 2012

It immediately brings the guards down and says "if you live here, this is what it'd be like everyday."

Well, that's a thing, and a part of showing the apt, then. It won't be "weird" if your goal is to find someone who is OK with that kind of apartment living. If that's the case, then you should probably put some indication of how social you want the apt to be in the ad. if buddy-housemates are an incontrovertible feature of what you want in your apt, then it makes sense to convey that as much as possible.
posted by rhizome at 10:09 AM on February 7, 2012

It immediately brings the guards down and says "if you live here, this is what it'd be like everyday."

Well, that's a thing, and a part of showing the apt, then. It won't be "weird" if your goal is to find someone who is OK with that kind of apartment living.

Right, and... that is not how I really read the situation - I saw it as "single female kind of nervous about a guy viewing her apartment so she doesn't want to do it alone/how can we spin this into not being awkward that I'm at her place and we're hanging out having a meal and drinks?" Not really the same thing as "this is just how it is around here."
posted by sm1tten at 10:31 AM on February 7, 2012

I think if your friend stops cooking, and devotes all her attention to showing the guy around while you continue cooking (or read a magazine or something), it's totally fine. Wait to eat until after he leaves.
posted by chickenmagazine at 12:19 PM on February 7, 2012

I think it's fine, and am surprised so many people have a problem with it. Obviously your friend lives there and needs to make herself available both to talk and show the perspective tenant around while you continue what you're doing. I don't see why cooking dinner, doing laundry, reading, watching TV or any other activity has anything at all to do with showing an apartment.
posted by cnc at 4:29 PM on February 7, 2012

For those of you keeping score, it was totally a non-issue if not a benefit. The guy seemed to be put at ease by me standing in the kitchen cooking while he was shown the apartment. We chatted a little and he seemed totally cool with my being there.
I was pan-searing red snapper while making marinara from scratch.

we also made homemade cavatelli which was basically the highlight of the night
posted by aloiv2 at 7:44 PM on February 8, 2012

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