I like clean bathrooms.
Mind you, I don’t like cleaning bathrooms (that’s another story), but I like clean bathrooms. I like the feeling of a home without toilet-seat covers. I like the feeling of my bare feet on the shower floor, of water slightly below scalding temperatures. I like bathrooms where I can walk in and not wonder what’s underneath the toilet lid. I like that I don’t have to bring my own toilet paper.
In my fraternity this summer, I don’t have those luxuries. I have to be careful not to touch the walls of the stall when I shower. I have to endure the one minute of anxiety if my towel drops on the floor before I had a chance to use it. I now make sure to go to a different floor if I see a pair of male feet underneath a closed stall. But you know what?
After my first week there, I didn’t care.
These minor inconveniences fall away when you actually live in the house with the brothers in it. By that, I mean getting to know them.
Often when people think of fraternities, they imagine a group of guys whose goals are to get chicks and get “swol.” The scenes depicted in movies or on television show frat guys to be the epitome of stupidity and inebriation stuffed in a pair of Chubbies and Sperry’s. More specifically, people imagine that a fraternity house is somewhat similar to the cockroach lady’s home in “Extreme Hoarders”, where little things (both living and not) pile up.
Surprise! It’s not really like that. Except for the fact that they just walk 20 feet away from you to pee in a bush outside – they actually do that where I live.
I won’t say that this place is immaculate, but once I let go of ideas like having a clean bathroom, I became less focused on things like strategically using the ones on campus before I went home. I can enjoy watching the playoffs that I didn’t know were happening. I can drink a beer without worrying how long I’d have to hold it to avoid using the downstairs bathroom — a bathroom that every brother and guest uses. Even if I accidently get beer spilled on me, I won’t freak out anymore about the idea of stepping into the shower because I’ve grown accustomed to the realities of a fraternity shower. By giving these stressors up, I received the fun that I wouldn’t have had.
In the five weeks that I’ve lived here, I’ve taken part in beer pong, snappa, barbecues and even a small bonfire – all of which are open to the people in the house. I found the bonfires particularly special because the first one was when I realized that living in a frat was not too bad. My favorite one was the Monday after finals, and everyone was stoked to be done.
The first thing we did was get the wood out of the truck and into the backyard. After the sun set, the guys lit the fire (not without a few failed attempts). It was after about an hour of laughing at the woes of frat life that I realized these guys were the people I wanted to hang out with.
What made it even better was that it seemed like they wanted to hang out with me, too.
I do have to confess: it’s actually my boyfriend’s frat. My experience might have been different than that of an outsider who had never known any of the brothers. But the funny thing is, a lot of the experiences I had here were when my boyfriend wasn’t around.
My boyfriend was gone: they didn’t have to be so welcoming to me. They didn’t have to offer me a beer just to be nice. My guy didn’t tell them to invite me to their parties – they just did because they’re great people.
Maybe I don’t get to have my clean bathroom. Sometimes I’ll have to vigorously wash my toothbrush a few times because I dropped it on the bathroom floor. Perhaps I can’t spend my sweet time in the bathroom anymore. But those things just aren’t a big deal anymore. Living here with the brothers in this house is one of the best summers I’ve had.
I can spend less time thinking about the bathroom and more time with great people.
Contact Vera Esail at [email protected].