When I moved to London, I found a flat with a girl I’d been friends with since college. After spending my adult life living in ‘boy houses’ – well I was/*am *a boy – I figured that living with a girl would be a refreshing change. We’d have lovely smells wafting around and taffeta hanging from the light fittings. There’d be scented candles.
We trod on eggshells for a while. I basically didn’t poo in the flat while she was there for almost six weeks, but it’s two years later now. I’ve realised that maybe I went into this whole living with a girl thing with my eyes closed. Some of the received wisdom about ‘what girls are like’ turned out to be less than 100% accurate.
So here’s what I learned:
The myth: Girls can cook. Living with a girl is like living inside the Great British Bake Off
The reality: As opposed to being a natural, my housemate uses our kitchen to produce the most unnatural of all foods. Recipes include: Quorn stirred into hot tomatoes, burnt onions and hummus with a spoon. She’s a vegetarian and that might go some way to explaining her insane dietary decisions, but I’m yet to meet another human person who is happy eating sweet corn straight from the tin. Cold. With their hands.
In order to make sure she doesn’t actually die we’ve established some rules. Everything that I don’t want to eat, I leave in a special area of the kitchen known as ‘anywhere in the kitchen’ and she eats it between two and four days later. This keeps our food waste down to a minimum and her protein intake at healthy levels.
The myth: A girl will fill the bathroom with an untold number of bottles, jars and formulas
The reality: This one actually is true – my housemate has an unrivalled array of tiny little bottles with exciting gold tops and scientifically proven benefits in every corner of the bathroom. The products aren’t the problem. What I wasn’t prepared for is the amount of hair an adult female can lose from her head every day and never once show any signs of running out. If you’re looking for a solution to male pattern baldness, just collect all of the hair shed in my bathroom for just one week, weave yourself a hot air balloon and fly to wherever they’ve solved that problem. You’ll still have enough hair left over to make wigs for you and your entire balloon-crew.
The myth: Your flat is going to be a meeting point for all of her attractive friends
The reality: Yeah, her friends are attractive. Often terrifyingly so. The problem is that someone else has already noticed so they’ve all got boyfriends. My housemate’s got a boyfriend, too, and although the attractive friends make a few appearances, the boyfriend is always on hand. He can knock toilet rolls into a running shower, he can spill hot tomatoes all over the floor. At the end of the day that’s the same as having a flat full of attractive women, right?
The myth: You’ll find out what women REALLY think. It’ll be like having superpowers
The reality: Finally! Backstage into what women are thinking. There’s absolutely no agenda here so we can be totally honest. I’ll solve her boy problems and she’ll be my lady-guru. I’ll be an unstoppable dating force with all the answers in every possible situation. Turns out, the only reason I think I understand boys is that I’ve never spent any amount of time actively trying to sleep with them. Boys are just as fucked up as girls and no-one can come anywhere close to understanding what either is thinking. Sure my housemate is encouraging but I wanted more. I wanted the secret dating decoder ring. The Tinder cheat codes. But they don’t exist and I’m just as useless, ‘No I don’t know why that boy did that thing. I’m not even sure why I came into this room just now. I’m really sorry. Would you like some sweetcorn?’
The myth: Girls have got their shit together
The reality: No matter what the situation, girls are in control. They know exactly what’s going on and somehow seem to know what going to happen next. This is a trick. Girls are tricking us because the truth is too terrifying to contemplate: absolutely no-one is ever in control of their life. My housemate keeps a written diary of everything she has to do, pretty much down to the hour and I still had a conversation with her yesterday involving the sentence, ‘I’m sure Wednesday is my doing something day.’
I once came back home from work, just before Christmas, and my housemate had locked up the whole flat. She’d cleaned the kitchen and bathroom. She’d got on a train and left the city. She’d also left the door to our balcony open and it had blown off in a storm. I’m not saying this is behavior specific to a girl, but they’re definitely not the actions of someone who’s got their shit together. Girls are flapping their legs under the water just the same as boys are. It’s just girls have mastered the looking cool part, we’re still flailing about and taking in huge gulps of canal juice while we do it.
So it turns out that two years later, there are no inherent benefits to living with a girl instead of boys. The pervading smell of Lynx is slightly less and we did once get a scented candle. Other than that, living with a girl hasn’t really changed my life, except now I know where to get hold of a carpenter at 6pm on Christmas Eve.
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Picture: Ada Hamza
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.