Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Roommates in college

I wanted to share with you all a bit of my analysis of the sociological means by which college-aged males co-exist in dwellings as "roommates." A roommate, in this paradigm, is a person with whom you have lived in the same household for at least one month while both paying rent to live in said household. By this definition, I have had ten roommates over the past four years. I know that many of the people reading this blog may not quite understand where I'm coming from, since my observations are based upon two experiences I have had over the past four years: a) living with a number of roommates each year; and b) living in an all-male household. But I will do my best to illuminate the concepts I am about to present to you.
In a household of college-aged males, there are certain roles that must be filled by the residents. Except in very odd situations, these roles are not held by more than one person, although each person usually holds more than one role. And only in rare cases are each of these roles not filled. There are many distinct roles that I have observed within the constructs of a community of males aged 18-25, and they are listed here for your perusal.

Head of Household (HOH): The person in charge of the house details. This includes bills and rent paid, creating a chore schedule, and bringing issues to the rest of the roommates.

The Bankroller: The person with the money to spend on things. There needs to be one roommate who is willing to buy things when they are needed for the house and spend the money that the others do not have. They do, of course, get to keep the items later, but their funds make the house function.

The Musician: The person who experiments with their instrument, usually either guitar or drums. This may involve being part of a band as well, in which case the other roommates had better get used to it.

The Computer Guy: The person who is the resident computer expert, and the source of much advice regarding hardware and software problems.

The Naked Guy: There needs to always be one roommate who is always in a state of semi-nudity. Unfortunately, it's usually the person in the house who, according to societal standards of beauty, should be the least naked.

The Recluse: This is typically present in a house of more than three, in which case one of the roommates is usually a recluse and is rarely seen by the other roommates.

The Roommate with the Unusual Name: One of the roommates needs to have a not-normal name that makes people ask their name again, or at the very least respond with "that's a cool name."

The "Most Committed": There is always one roommate who is more committed in his relationship with his girl than the others. Even if all roommates are in relationships, one will stand out above the rest. (Colloquially known as "The Whipped".)

The Fugitive: This person is different from the recluse, because this invisible roommate is the one that is never there. Like a fugitive, he is on the run and rarely is seen at the scene of his bed.

The Neat Freak: The person who is most concerned about tidiness and cleanliness, and often the most organized in the house.

The Socialite: The person who is always inviting people over and opening up the house to others, occasionally at the sake of the sanity of the other roommates.

The Responsible (AKA "The Studious"): The person who is most diligent in their studies and style of life. This is usually the first person to rise and first to sleep, and the most concerned with maintaining good hygiene habits.

The Hub: In a house of three or more, there is one roommate through whom information flows to the others as a "hub." Usually, it is their room that is the de facto meeting place for roommates, and they initiate discussion between the residents.

The Fixer-Upper (AKA "The Mechanic"): The person who is able to fix anything and everything in the house, and who is called upon in such times as are necessitated by the relative inability of other roommates. This usually also applies to cars.

The Driver: When roommates are heading somewhere, this is the person who takes the wheel. Coincidentally, their vehicle is typically the best and most reliable of all roommates.

The Kitchener: Even in a house in which all roommates cook individually, there is still one who takes charge over the kitchen, whether it be organization of stuff in the kitchen or even just a roommate who is more active in cooking than the others.

The Stuff Guy: Who's the guy to go to if you need something? The guy who has the stuff, that's who. This is probably the most likely role to be divided among more than one roommate; one guy will be the "school stuff" guy, and another the "tool stuff" guy, and so on.

I realize that there may be more definable roles, but for now these are all that I have observed. From my experiences, this paradigm can be applied to any living situation of two or more and still work. Take some time and reflect on your experience. Does it work? I am interested to hear from females to see what roles occur in an all-female household. Hooray for life as a sociological experiment.


  1. hmmm... very interesting... I would project my experiences in female households but I'm not sure it would work because of the Shantzy-Becca factor... our experience ended up being more like a "family" (old married couple) than a crazy Uni students household... very interesting introjection into roommate life tho...

  2. I agree with Becca: I see elements of these roles in our household, but there is also much more of a familial factor here, too.

    On the other hand...

    "HOH" - if the role is paying the bills, then that's me. I also tend to be the one that our property manager asks for, when he phones.
    "Bankroller" - we go back and forth on that one. I have more flexibility with my money, but Meg loves to buy things. On the other hand, I did buy a deep freeze.
    "Musician" - again, it's both of us. I'm more likely to be playing my flute (well, in the past few weeks), but Meg practices singing on the keyboard.
    "Computer Guy" - um, neither of us?
    "Naked Guy" - again, neither of us? Although I am the most likely one to be wandering the house in a housecoat...
    "Most Committed/Whipped" - again, both of us. Her in person, me on the phone.
    "Neat Freak" - I'd say Meg, in terms of clutter. Me, in terms of germs.
    "Socialite" - it started off being me, but exec has cause Meg to be quite a bit more social.
    "The Studious" - ha!
    "The Hub" - N/A in a household of two.
    "The Fixer-Upper" - sometimes me, but sometimes we make other people do that.
    "The Stuff Guy" - Meg.

    "The Phone Hog" - me.
    "The Plant Waterer" - Meg
    "Whose Clutter Is That?" - Mine.
    "The Family Member" (the one whose family is inescapable, and tends to play a role, even in our household) - Me.
    "The One Who Notices Stuff" - Meg.
    "The Instigator of Crazy" - Meg. (Margaret Atwood wall, customised t-shirts...)

  3. Anonymous20.4.05

    holy crap that was the funniest thing i've heard in a long time.
    I raise my glass to you friend, as well as realise that we're going to have varying degrees of 'naked guyness' though i will agree that you will be the nakedest, and that scares me.
    also, the whipped position i suppose would be held by me, or as starla so eloquently put it 'shes my opinion'....as far as that goes.
    Also i would appreciate the roll as 'stuff guy, bankroller, computer guy, private naked guy (not to be confused with the general and commander in chief) most committed (only committed, so the two greatest words in the english language 'default', the fixer upper, the driver (again with the default), and also, the only guy in the house who has a problem with tub-al urination.

  4. Every house I've ever visited with more than 3 men living in it has had a naked guy too.
    And I thought it was just me...

  5. Posts like this are why you are Blog King (tips hat)

    And in the words of Eldon Irvine, "Seth Stimson is the nakedest man I know."

    'nuff said. So who was naked guy in our household then? You or Rev?

  6. I don't want to know...I don't want to know...I don't want to know...I don't want to know...

  7. Mike, ask yourself one question: who would you be most likely to see in some state of undress at any given hour of the day? Note that the presence of "Naked guy" does not preclude the nudity of others...it is just that it is more likely for one to be unclothed than the others. I think you know your answer.

    Derek out.

  8. Anonymous22.4.05

    Turner, you stereotype better than anyone I know -- and I love it, baby!

    What happened to the "eats leftovers" guy? :)



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