My favorite memory of my final summer of college is the introduction to a friend’s mom. She had no idea that I was living with eight boys that summer. When one of our other friends (roommates) cheerfully explained that I was subletting from one of the guys, her jaw dropped open. She then proceeded to kick her grown son in the butt. This mom referred to me only as “that girl” like the slut that she assumed I was.
This living arrangement was unusual, and I argued with my conservative Catholic dad regarding respect and friendship. I successfully won this argument by reminding my dad how well he knew most of these boys, now men. I spent an amazing summer filled with movie nights, trips to the beach, and many parties. I always had someone walk me home from the bar to make sure that I got home safe. My friends treated me like a princess.
My friends were far more stern with any prospective boyfriends than just my dad. There were eight of them for goodness sake. Any boyfriend had to pass muster with all of them. They were loyal, kind and generous. A few months ago, I asked some of these friends who now have daughters of their own, “Would you let your daughter live with a bunch of guys like my parents let me?” All of them said emphatically no. If their daughters’ friends are anything like mine, it would be a shame not to. I felt like one of the guys and like their favorite little sister.
I learned a lot about living with the opposite sex that summer. These lessons have served me well as a married woman.
1. Some guys manscape. If you manscape, clean up the hair around the bathtub drain yourself. If you do not, the entire house will make you the butt of all the jokes and pretend to gag.
2. Learn how to do all household tasks. Your gender should not dictate who does the dishes or mops the floor or replaces light bulbs.
3. The definition of clean enough varies from person to person. Compromise on a happy medium.
4. Take turns preparing meals.
5. Grocery lists are key.
6. Don’t leave laundry in the washing machine for a long time. Other people may need to wash their clothes.
7. Devise a plan to be able to take a shower while someone else gets ready. We had to rig a shower curtain between the shower and the toilet and sink.
8. Always knock on doors before entering. You never know what might be happening behind that closed door.
9. Be flexible with plans. Start getting ready way earlier than you think is necessary.
10. In the stifling heat, there are two options. Go to the beach or hang inside all day long in a kiddie pool and watch all three of the Godfather movies.
To my boys, thank you for being such amazing friends. I miss you all so much. I love that we still get together and hang out. It awes me to see our kids playing together. It feels like only yesterday we were sitting on the porch of our house, grilling out and drinking beer.