It’s a good thing my husband and I started dating before he lived in his fraternity house in college. Otherwise, our relationship probably wouldn’t have lasted past the first time I saw the place. Because, had he brought me to his fraternity house, here’s what I would have been treated to:
Upon first glance, the house wasn’t too bad.From the outside, anyway. It was a two story house, with a fairly decent sized backyard and garage. The lawn was usually mowed (typically when a pledge needed something to do), trash was picked up (provided there had been no parties or midnight barbecues), and the 1800 cars parked in the driveway were done so in an orderly fashion. But then the doors opened. And a whole new situation began.
When you walked through the side door (because the front door was usually locked. Not sure why), you had the choice to go upstairs or continue around the hallway to the downstairs (I should clarify here that the house was split into 2 apartments so that 8 people could live there; 4 in each apartment). Depending on which path you choose, you were greeted by two different situations. Both disgusting, both unappealing. For argument’s sake, you chose the downstairs because you had been told by a little birdie that upstairs contained not only the “love room” (I’ll let you figure out for yourself what that means) but a TV that ran stolen porn 18 or so out of 24 hours a day (the remaining hours were consumed by video games).
But you find out that downstairs, while less like a brothel, is more like a shameful excuse for a house. Hovel is probably a more appropriate description. My shack at sleepaway camp was better constructed than this house. First of all, the addition that was built onto the house was breaking away from the foundation. Too many people on the floor would have made it collapse. So that was a fun party game. Second, if you wanted to know if it was night or day, you didn’t need a window. All you had to do was look at the bathroom floor because there was a crack so big that you could clearly view the outside world. Which was very helpful when you woke up and wanted to know exactly for how long you slept. Then there was the window that was painted open. Yup. You read that right. The window was painted open. Great handiwork, gentlemen.
Awesome stuff, right? Totally the house you picture yourself having a nice evening in. However, that’s not even the best part.
Because we still need to discuss the cleanliness issue. I can understand that 8 guys living in one house, a fraternity house no less, equals one giant, disgusting mess. But these guys took it to a new level. Moldy food was in abundance, dog shit was all over the basement for awhile (one guy had his dog living in the house and was too lazy to walk him, so off to the basement is was. Which was supernice because that’s where the laundry facilities could be found. When they worked. And didn’t flood the basement), and there was such a funk in that house that I’m pretty sure it’s still stuck in my nose. And don’t you dare walk around that house without shoes on because there’s no telling what you might step on and tetanus shots hurt. My husband had so many illnesses in the first year he lived in that house (because one year wasn’t enough, he lived there for 3 more years), that I’m convinced that’s the reason he doesn’t get sick now. That house made his immune system badass. Or no other illnesses are a challenge. Either one.
Fortunately, to compensate for the porn, filthiness, and shoddy construction, presents were often hidden around the house. If you found them, you were so lucky and the envy of all. Because who wouldn’t envy presents like the jar of peanut butter in the freezer that had the imprint of a boob in it. Or the metal pot being cooked in the microwave. Or the crowd of people smoking weed in the loft of the garage. Or the 6 day old beer that I’m pretty sure one guy drank for $1. Or the homeless, drug addicted friend of one of the brothers camping out on the couch. Or the guy…well, I can’t even discuss that one without throwing up.
It was eventful to say the least and the living expenses were affordable (particularly the rent, which was made even more affordable by the fact that the chapter subsidized part of the housing costs), but really, at what cost? Illness, unwelcome guests at all hours of the night, and the ability to see the outdoors without a window?
And all of this is the reason I hate the advice “live like a college student”. Because who the fuck wants to live like this?