When I was first a young bachelor living in New York City, I shared an apartment with a friend from high school and we were both slobs. We'd go days without doing the dishes, never vacuum, rarely clean the bathroom, and our kitchen was a veritable zoo of cockroaches.

I'd bring girls over after a date, to watch TV, to have a drink, to try to get them into bed, and the second I entered the place I'd feel embarrassed. All the empty beer cans and dirty ashtrays that didn't bother me when Mike and I were sitting around watching pro football suddenly made me feel like a creep when I had a girl over. But I somehow never found the strength or resolve to clean the place up.

Then a year later I moved out and got my own apartment. I'd gotten a raise at work and so I was able to afford a nice one bedroom apartment in a new building on the Upper Eastside. I got myself some decent, inexpensive furniture at the Door Store, put a few nice framed posters on the wall, and threw down a couple of modestly priced straw rugs. And because the place looked so much nicer than I was used to, I kept it clean. I liked my place all of a sudden and couldn't bare to see it get mucked up.

I can't tell you what a diffence it made to the young women I was dating. I'm sure you're anticipating me reporting a tremendous upsurge in the number of women I was able to take to bed (my new bed also bought at the Door Store). Well, you're right. Suddenly, it seemed like a whole less hassling experience to segue from TV watching to wild lovemaking. But it was much more than that. My dates seemed to have a better time, to fling themselves onto the sofa or the floor with a far greater sense of abandon, to kick off their shoes or jump into the shower.

But they also treated me differently, with more respect, more trust, a greater sense of ease. All of a sudden I wasn't some weird guy that they'd have to get to know and make up their mind about. I was a contender, someone they seemed ready to consider for a long-term relationship, someone they wanted to get to know better, someone they'd consider introducing to their parents.

Neatness and cleanliness are more important than the sheer pleasure they provide when contrasted to sloppiness and filth. They say you treat yourself with respect, you haven't given up, you care what others think about you. Keeping oneself and one's place clean is a sign of mental health; and not keeping clean is often a sign that someone is breaking down, giving up, no longer able to cope. And so it should be no surprise to you that the Ironman drives a nice, clean car.

'Uh oh,' I can hear you saying. 'This guy is making me nuts. First, I've got to move out and get an expensive apartment. Then I've got to go put myself into hock and buy a Porsche and get it cleaned twice a week at $15 a pop.'

Not true. An Ironman doesn't have a particularly lavish, flashy or fancy lifestyle, no matter how much money he's got. If I had to characterize him, I'd say he's more of an L.L. Bean/Jeep/Molson Golden type. He's just got his life in order. His apartment is neat and clean. His car is neat and clean. And his person is neat and clean.

He's got it together.

I can't tell you how many women I've interviewed over the years who have volunteered with absolutely no prodding from me that they prefer a man to be neat and clean rather than raunchy and unshaven.

Yes, we all have devilishly handsome romantic friends who can somehow attract droves of women even though they don't shower or shave as often as we do and even though their apartments are near pigsties. That may very well be true. But that's not you. That's not the Ironman. Your sloppy friend is a different type altogether, and I will predict that if you work hard at learning and practicing the Ironman ethic that it won't be long before you're somehow attracting more and better women than your friend ever dreamed.

So if your car is a godawful mess, spend a couple of hours Saturday afternoon and clean it up. For five bucks you can bring it to one of these car wash places where you can vacuum your own mats and clean your own windows. And don't stop there. Determine what dents need to be fixed and what rust removed and dig in and spend the money it costs to get it done. You'll find that once you get your car in good shape, you'll enjoy it so much you'll want to keep it that way.

I know it hurts to spend your hard-earned dollars on stupid things like car repairs, but, again, I never said it was going to be easy becoming an Ironman. Good things require sacrifices. However, I think you'll find the satisfaction and increased self-esteem you feel as you get your life in order are worth it.

I also think you'll discover a certain pleasure in making sure that in every aspect of your life in which a woman interfaces with you she senses your care for yourself, your things, your way of life, your code. It will make her feel admiring and respectful. She will think to herself, this is a man with a real point of view about life. This is a man with a great deal of pride and self-respect. Women find these traits immensely appealing in a man.


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