I was growing up, my dad always said that if he’d had any sons, he
would have killed them before they reached my age.
I took it as a compliment. I
was the youngest of three daughters and my belief that boys were covered
in cooties and made of snails and puppy dog tails held fast. Boys were a
mystery to me, and if my dad couldn’t handle them I saw no hope in my
comprehending them anytime soon.
It isn’t that I was a
particular girly girl. When
my mom threatened to take all of my pretty dresses away to convince me
to go to pre-school, I told her to take my tights too.
I played Barbies and house, but I also played sports and watched
“He-Man”. In elementary
school, I took pride in the fact that I could smoke all the boys in the
fifty-yard dash. All
growing up, I kept myself at a safe distance from the cootie-carriers.
That is, until I just couldn’t outrun them anymore.
Just this past summer, I moved
in with four male friends in southern Spain after spending the year
there studying abroad. Before
this, the closest I’d ever been to living with guys my age was in the
dorms my freshman year in college.
I'd lived in an all-girl hall, but the cloud of stench that crept
out of the boys’ floor below us made me gag every time I ventured in
that direction. But even then I could keep myself at a distance.
Living with four guys in an apartment meant there would be no
escape; I would be forced to view the world from inside the other
When I first saw the apartment
I wanted to scream out of both enthusiasm and sheer panic.
There were going to be five of us living in a two-bedroom
apartment that had a 5-square-foot kitchen with a camping stove,
and a bathroom so small you had to put your feet in the shower to sit on
the toilet. The other
bubble was going to be much smaller than I had imagined.
The setting was so intimate
that we couldn’t even shower without someone knowing exactly when we
slathered on the soap. In
the female bubble I was used to, pure nosiness would have made this
living situation both impossible and ideal at the same time.
Ideal because every situation could be a social situation and
impossible because it would be a perfect breeding ground for gossip (I
won’t even mention the absolute impossibility of five girls sharing
one bathroom the size of a linen closet).
The guys and I, however,
managed pretty well. Everyone
respected each other’s personal space (all five square feet of it) and
the guys had an amazing talent of behaving at any time as if they were
the only person in the room. I
was the only one ever wondering what everyone else’s plans were.
The guys seemed to move in and out of the apartment in a constant
ebb and flow. If they were
going out, they picked up and left.
There was no worry about curling irons or what to wear or, often,
Before long, the southern
Spanish heat made us all slow and stinky.
Many days, I was the only one up before noon.