My Ghettohouse: under the sea at ‘The Reef’

The blue walls of the Reef gives it an under-the-sea ambience.
The blue walls of the Reef gives it an under-the-sea ambience.

Nickname: The Reef

What: A four-bedroom, semi-detached house

Where: Division and Earl

Rent: $385.75/month plus utilities

Who: Melissa Dermody, Phys-Ed ’07, Fleur Reddy, ArtSci ’07, Beth Lorimer, ArtSci ’07, Megan de Jonge, Phys-Ed ’07.

Favourite aspect of the house: “We all like that all four bedrooms are upstairs,” said de Jonge. “And we like the big living space,” added Lorimer. “We also love to sit out on the roof when the weather’s nice,” she said. “It’s great for people watching.”

Problems: The typical ghettohouse inconveniences, like drafty windows, and rodents in the wall, but pigeon problems (“they live on the roof and just shit all over the place”) are also prominent.

The quirk: A ghost, with a particular affinity for hot water, inhabits The Reef. Lorimer said the kettle inexplicably turns on by itself “probably every hour.” But as far as they know, the ghost is confined to the kitchen.

How it all came to be: The girls all lived on the same floor in first year and have been living together at The Reef ever since they moved out of residence.

Even as you first enter the front door, the theme is unavoidable. The living room walls are painted an ocean blue and are adorned with underwater treasures, which include a makeshift chandelier crafted from a ship’s steering wheel and a spiraling wall decoration affixed with seashells.

The girls claim that all of the oceanic imagery was inherited and that was how The Reef came to be. But that’s not the whole truth. “Didn’t we come up with it while watching Blue Crush?” said Dermody, just before the others shushed her.

“Well, we had the idea before we came,” admitted de Jonge, “but then we saw the light fixture and that sealed it.” The undersea ornaments weren’t the only things they inherited: the previous residents also left several intramural athletic trophies, which the girls ironically cherish and display sporadically about the house.

The living room opens into a homey dining room, creating an inviting common space, which leads into what would be a relatively ordinary kitchen if it were not for the illustrations of little, faceless girls—who look like gingerbread cut-outs holding hands across the globe—on the encircling walls. Upstairs, despite the “regulation prison cell dimensions” of the bedrooms, the girls have injected life into the cramped quarters with brightly coloured rooms and crafty decorations.

Memorable moments: In addition to synchronizing their Halloween costumes and hosting Crimbo (British slang for Christmas) parties every year, the friends also share a common comfort food: Fluffernutter sandwiches. The girls can barely contain their excitement as they discuss the strange snack made with peanut butter and “fluff”—apparently some sort of marshmallow spread. It is a source of intense bonding for the house. Lorimer tried to explain: “Whenever one of us has a really bad day”—“Or a really good day,” de Jonge giddily added—“We bring out the fluff.” “Any traumatizing experience calls for a Fluffernutter,” Reddy said.

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