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The Scarlet & Black

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Harvey Wilhelm
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Life in the Prairie: Rude Haus

The residents, six human and one reptilian, of 1018 East St. enjoy the spring sun on their porch. Photo by Sarah Ruiz.

Steve Yang, Features Editor

“Do you want to see our snake?” is probably the first question a student will hear upon visiting 1018 East St., a polite contrast from the house’s self-given nickname: Rude Haus. The five fourth-year residents: Rachel Keen, Marissa Yetter, Ebony Chuukwu, Colleen Moser and Hannah Lieberman, all ’16, have all lived together at some point before their final year at Grinnell. Rude Haus is the culmination of their interactions with one another, a type of tough love built on a foundation of strong but widely different personalities.

“We’re rude, but in a very loving way,” Moser said.

“Or maybe we’re just all assholes deep in our hearts. We’re more sassy and sarcastic,” Lieberman countered. She clarified that Moo, the friendly albino corn snake, was “too friendly” to be included in this Rude Haus moniker.

The residents, six human and one  reptilian, of 1018 East St. enjoy the spring sun on their porch. Photo by Sarah Ruiz.
The residents, six human and one reptilian, of 1018 East St. enjoy the spring sun on their porch.
Photo by Sarah Ruiz.

Certainly, Rude Haus is not a home for the faint-hearted. On a wall adjacent to the dining table, for example, an exhibit of “profane watercolors” shows off colorful expressions of empowerment and angst in what Lieberman described as the product of “adults getting drunk and going to preschool.” In terms of overall appearance, Keen described the house’s decorations as a sort of shabby mid-American chic, an aggressive combination of traditional Americana and college individuality.

“Yeah, we have a white picket fence, and it’s a house where you can come home and have a Bud Light, watch a football game,” Keen said.

“No, it’d be ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race’ or ‘Broad City’,” Chuukwu corrected.

And if you’re ever at 1018 East St., don’t let your guard down. Not because of Moo, but because of a lurking but beat-up life-sized Ronald Reagan cutout, which has been both cause and victim of Yetter’s wrath.

“I purchased a life-size Ronald Reagan cutout from the Internet, and he’s become our sixth housemate, our seventh including the snake,” Keen said. “We started using him to scare Marissa­: we would put him in the shower or in her bed, and she would find him at compromising times and beat the shit out of him. So he’s been reduced to a cardboard pulp now.”

Although the cutout was featured, along with Moo, in the house’s Tithead video, it has essentially been retired to the closet since last year. However, other situations have woken Yetter’s anger, much to the general amusement of the house.

“Once, Marissa got really angry at all of us, and threatened Hannah with a fork,” Moser recalled. “She ran around the house trying to stab her with the fork.”

“We’re pretty comfortable with each other at this point, though,” Yetter assured.

This comfort has come through their shared history but also the fact that the house has only one bathroom. Shared between five people, that means there are often at least two in there at any given time, especially because nobody dares travel to the unlit basement bathroom.

“The entire upstairs was probably an add-on, so there’s no bathroom there either,” Moser said.

The chance to live at 1018 was the result of Chuukwu’s pet project. Last year, Chuukwu signed up herself and her housemates  to live next door, at 1020 East St. Because the landlord owns both 1018 and 1020, they got first dibs to live at 1018 this year. At the time, 1018 was occupied by their close friends, and Chuukwu added that she hopes next year’s residents will be their friends as well, continuing the trend of keeping the house “in the family.”

Beyond the house, the most important entity that 1018 will pass down is Moo. Thought to be male until recent caretaker Rabbi Rob Cabelli ascertained that Moo is probably female, Rude Haus residents credit Moo’s popularity to helping them bring more guests and a sense of community into the home.

“We were super popular when we first got Moo,” Yetter said. “It was a game at one point to see how many people we could get to come over under the premise of seeing our snake.”

Because Cabelli was “an incredible caretaker” for Moo, Yetter noted that it’s very possible the snake will live with Cabelli after this year’s graduation. At that time, then, it will be too late for Moo to be a part of the house’s highest aspiration, a reality TV show.

“I hope that we get a reality show,” Keen said. “‘Life in the Prairie: Rude Haus.’”

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