January 27, 2011

One of the Boys

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Some months ago, on one of the of first truly cold days of the year, I was woken from my deep Sunday morning recovery sleep by an entourage of boisterous and questionably dressed young men materializing at the foot of my bed. While I was still sorting out what day it was and what these characters wanted with me, all four of them were trying to speak at once, each insisting that another had made a bigger idiot of himself the previous night. Apparently it was imperative that I get up immediately and join them on an expedition for greasy hangover food; they were already recapping the shenanigans of the frat formal we had all attended and now required my side of the story. My head was predictably pounding and I’m sure I looked like a Lindsay Lohan mug shot, but of course I happily went with them. These were my roommates, after all, and we’re all in this crazy college life together.

I am the sole female in a house of seven loud, smelly, careless and entirely wonderful men. My current living situation is not merely untraditional, but also filled with ramen noodles stuck to the counters, boxer shorts on the floor and beer cans just about everywhere. While some girls in my position might find the hip-hop too loud or the jokes too offensive, I thrive on this uncensored environment and the constant buzz of activity. Living with guy-friends strips the drama away from close-quartered college life, leaving you with the fun parts of a friendship. These boys are my friends, brothers, bodyguards and non-stop entertainment. I even have one I refer to as my “platonic husband” because we love to cook and drink red wine together, and he’s always so responsible about the utilities and cleaning. (Platonic is a key word in my house. Although I am certainly straight and all seven of the guys have looks to kill and charm to spare, I have never been, nor do I ever intend to be, romantically involved with any of them). We may party like fratstars, but we also look out for each other like family.

The paradox of the situation is that this testosterone-steeped environment actually accentuates my more feminine qualities and interests. Most of the time, I am treated as an equal, just one of the guys. I am not spared the friendly harassment, crass commentary or expectations of debauchery tolerance just because I’m a girl. And when one of them needs to be made fun of, they find no respite from me, either. If you wear skin-tight, glitter-emblazoned Ed Hardy shirts under your shiny, faux-fur-trimmed puffer coat every day, you have some jokes coming your way. Likewise, your passing out on the floor of our bathroom will not go un-photographed. Yet as much as I can pass for a bro, I often also feel that mothering impulse. Just like Snow White, I have a dirty little house and seven men to take care of. This has given me an incredible audience for my cooking, and my banana bread recipe has become somewhat famous. Whatever new recipe I want to try, I am never at a loss for willing tasters. Similarly, the boys never need to look too far for a female opinion. Whenever one of them encounters a pesky dress code or question of appropriate behavior, they have me to turn to for answers. “Yo, K-Mart, can I wear jeans to this dinner?” I have now selected countless ties for formals, dates and interviews. Perhaps as a result of the notable lack of these elements in my environment, living with guys has made me even more aware of fashion, health food and personal hygiene.

It has also given me a window into the guy’s side of hookups and dating. I don’t think that any of us realized it at the beginning of the year, but a live-in lady can be the perfect wingman. I’m totally cool with them shamelessly objectifying women, I am much less threatening to a would-be hookup than a crew of bros would be and I understand firsthand what girls want to hear. Or, if there’s a grenade they’d prefer to avoid, I can be a very good decoy. A female roommate is a great sounding board for those tricky text messages to female conquests. I’ve assisted in booty call, second date and polite “fuck off, bitch” communiqués at all hours. Plus, I have lots of female friends and younger sorority sisters to introduce them to. They’re all good guys, so I’m happy to act as a reference.

Sitting in the diner that chilly, hung-over morning is really exemplary of my life among men. I couldn’t help but be proud of this amusing pseudo-family we have created. Though I was feasting on a big greasy sandwich, no one was judging me. One of the guys decided to wear a snowflake-patterned holiday sweater, so everyone was judging him. The previous night’s embarrassing text messages and semi-public sexual antics fueled the non-stop laughter. My boys and I have a comfortable, symbiotic, easy friendship that is always exciting without being stressful or dramatic. This is the type of lifestyle that only exists in college.

Kenyon Cory is a senior in the college of Industrial and Labor Relations and can be reached at kcory@cornellsun.com. Rabbit Hole appears alternate Fridays this semeter.

Original Author: Kenyon Cory