New Boy: Four Girls, One Boy, No Clue
I come from a dangerous and chaotic land. I come from the beer-stained and regret-filled halls of a Southern fraternity house. So, when I learned I’d be living with four girls during my semester abroad in Ireland, I knew shit was about to get weird. As a stranger in an even stranger land, I’ve recorded some of my observations of the differences between men and women, beyond the large concentration of chocolate and baked goods I now live with.
What follows are the inner thoughts of a douchebag living with women for the first time.
Almost immediately, my roommates informed me that they wanted nothing from me sexually. I tend to be a direct person when it comes to sex, but nothing prepared me for that conversation. The claim came so spontaneously that I thought it was a joke, and I laughed. They were not joking. They thought I had to be told, like a sex-crazed dog, that they were not interested in banging me. I am not a nymphomaniac, and didn’t have any intention of trying to take them to bed. I told them not to worry about it, and that seemed to make things worse. I should have been thankful for this direct communication, but I was naïve then. Now I live in a limbo where “fine” actually means “totally not okay.” I try every day to understand their foreign ways of communication, but I fear I will never fully grasp the complex and subtle language of femininity.
“I hate it when people are passive aggressive,” my roommate mentioned one of those first few days. Oh man, was I glad to hear that. I grew up in a house of passive aggression, and maybe the thing I love most about the “frat castle” is that people are directly aggressive with their problems. Therefore, I expected to be told when I did something that bothered them. No dice. I never know if they want me to do the dishes or take out the trash. I can’t tell if the smoke drifting in from the balcony bothers them, and I certainly can’t tell what they think of my drinking habits.
I know I’ve done lots to upset them, and whenever I apologize they seem to accept it, but suddenly something I said as an endearing joke weeks ago could reemerge and ruin a casual conversation. They told me to be brutally honest with them, but if I say their legs look hairy, all of a sudden I’m the devil. I’ve learned to just allow them to be mad at me, whereas normally I could squash my beef within hours. I’ve come to terms with the fact that some days these girls might just dislike me.
I’ve always been the type of person to show my friendship rather negatively. To me, teasing people is just another way of affirming your friendship with them. However, there are some things you learn just not to say to girls. Telling a woman to “stop being a bitch,” it turns out, is not a term of endearment. Honestly, I tell that to my brothers (read: friends) all the time, but I’ve never seen someone cry so quickly. The women I live with show their affection through conversation, cookies, and generally just being nice to each other. They tell me to stop bitching constantly, because I do, but they also give me cookies (my favorite part) and ask how I’m feeling today (what?). It’s not that these girls are more emotional or less tough than a boy. I have seen them be braver than I have ever had to be. As foreign as it seems to me, I genuinely believe they show their affection for each other by just being a nice person.
The differences don’t stop there.
Discussing that kiss: the differences between men and women.
We (not surprisingly) see sex as two entirely different things. I’ve seen these girls talk for an hour about a kiss, and I haven’t even talked for 10 minutes about any sexual experience. Rather sadly, it seems that sex is not always a happy ending. The morning after one of my roommates brought a boy home I tried to high-five her and congratulated her on “getting that dick.” She looked so thoroughly disgusted that my enthusiasm shriveled. I’ve been informed that while they are sometimes into the idea at night, they wake up and feel disgusted with themselves. I can relate to that, but not to the same extreme. My roommates also seem obsessed with assuring me they aren’t sluts, but I wouldn’t care either way. I don’t slut shame and believe, like most of my friends, that women should be proud of their sexuality. I’m always surprised how ashamed they can emerge from a one-night-stand. Yet, I’ve also seen them proud of their conquest, and completely ignore their one-night-stand’s efforts to be nice. I’ve always been relatively positive the morning after, so it kills me that sometimes they aren’t.
I could rattle on and on about the differences surrounding nudity as comedy, drinking, wingman/wingwoman, and crying. However, the biggest shock isn’t all the strange little ways we’re different. I’m shocked at how even though I’m an asshole we still get along. Despite my daily confusion, they remain some of the funniest, nicest, and most forgiving people I’ve ever had the privilege to live with. And while I don’t think I will ever understand the complexities of the female mind I have to appreciate it for its beauty. Like most of the guys back at the frat castle, I know that I have treated women poorly in the past. These four very different girls are showing me how to be not just a better man, but a better person. I only hope that by tolerating my douchebaggery somehow I can teach them something too.
Feature photo by Evan Dennis VIA Unsplash