Strange Bedfellows

By Kayla Burchuk

Reed Forrest Lehto (History, Grand Marais, Minn.), Oliver Cano (HMCS, St. Louis, Mo.), and Aaron Rosenblum (HMCS, Doylestown, Pa.) share a house perched above the intersections of Marshall and Fry Streets where they have been known to have the occasional boundary-pushing party, while on a weekday they might be more easily found bickering over chores or working on a cooking project. Here the three roommates discuss sex, politics, and sexual politics.The Mac Weekly: Tell me the story of how you met one another and how you became friends.

Oliver Cano: I know how I met Aaron. Aaron and I both lived on Turck 4 our first year. The first weekend, after getting a little drunk and running into each other in the hallway…I heard him talking to somebody about having been in Europe the summer before, specifically in Amsterdam, at the Bulldog Hostel at the exact same time that I was, and I wanted to hit on him, so I used that as a way to ignite conversation. And that’s how we became friends, because I was so in love with him.

Aaron Rosenblum: Because he professed his love for me soon after, and I rejected him. But then I asked for his hand in friendship instead.
OC: Which is even gayer.

AR: And it worked out.

Reed Lehto: I didn’t have any friends for the first month of school. I just wandered around campus by myself, it was really sad.
OC: I guess we became friends with Reed because he wanted to live in the [veggie] co-op, and so did Aaron and I along with our good friend Nick Coletto ’10. So we started going to informational meetings together and that’s probably the first time I started interacting with Reed.

TMW: Tell me about the co-op era sophomore year.

RL: Well, Oliver smelled really bad and so did I.
OC: Reed smelled equally as bad because we showered equally infrequently. Aaron and I lived with Nick Coletto and Reed lived down the hall.
AR: And Reed, Oliver and I were intense cuddlers at that point in our relationship. I think it freaked out a lot of people, but it made us pretty close, at least in my mind.

OC: In my opinion that was one of the last best years.
RL: It was a really good year.

OC: It was a really incredible community of 20 people, all of whom I think were dedicated to making the space safe and enjoyable for everyone.

TMW: So when did you all end up moving into the house all together?

OC: Well, Julie Gaynin ’10, who also lived with us in the co-op at that time, asked us to live with her the next year. So Aaron and I kindly obliged because I was going abroad in the spring so I would be here in the fall and Reed was going to be in Ghana, so we would switch places in the house.
RL: Fall of this year. I lived in Oliver’s room last spring with basically all of his furniture, all of his IKEA furniture, all of his brand new IKEA furniture.
OC: Which is now ruined.

RL: And his decadently large bed. And I destroyed it all. I lit a lot of incense.

TMW: Aaron, you’re the domestic one in the house?

RL: Not true!
AR: Reed also wants me to acknowledge that he does domestic work in the house, which he does. Oliver doesn’t really do anything.

OC: That is bullshit!
AR: I definitely take great pleasure in being domestic and I would love to just be a.

RL: Stay-at-home-dad?
AR: That’s not the word I’m looking for.
OC: A concubine?
AR: I bake, I have a worm bin, I just have little projects. We’ve got worms in our basement… I just try and learn new things so my friend Amia Jackson ’10 taught me how to can this fall, because this was the second year I made a ton of tomato sauce but last year I froze it. I think it tastes a lot better this year canned. It’s just a good skill.

TMW: How does masculinity factor into this housing equation?

OC: I don’t think masculinity does factor into this housing equation, because for me masculinity had always been something that places strain on me, that’s confining, and I don’t have to do that around Reed or Aaron.
AR: I don’t know, I feel like we play with it. You know?
OC: A certain play on masculinity, sometimes a satire and play on masculinity and other times like a very serious analysis of masculinity and questioning of our own masculinity definitely take place in this house but I don’t think that we’ve ever been asked to think about it or talked about it before.

TMW: Oliver and Aaron, you guys are Humanities Media and Cultural Studies majors, [Lehto makes farting sound]. Does sharing that in common affect the framework from which you approach life in this house or life in general?

OC: HMCS for me has meant being conscious of the extreme inequality that plagues the entire world and has helped me understand better that I benefit from so much privilege every single day. And that so many people in this city, in this state, in this country, in this entire world, have so much less than I do. HMCS has been about me acknowledging that privilege and finding ways to help others.

AR: It’s also been a flexible and supportive department for doing what I wanted to do in college, for making that addressing of power in the world a central focus of my studies here and being able to incorporate and cross-list from other departments like American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and have that be part of my major had been really great. The people there have just been really supportive and flexible . and the karaoke parties.

OC: Yeah, HMCS puts on a mean holiday party.
OC: I don’t know if Reed engages as much theory as Aaron and I do, but he’s definitely as smart and beautiful as both of us.

TMW: What are some of your best memories of the parties and after parties that have taken place in this house?

OC: Our first big party at the beginning of our junior year, fall 2008, we had a party at this house where people sporadically took off all their clothes and danced in their underwear.

AR: A lot of people were completely naked. And people would walk in and it was about 50-50 and half would immediately turn around and leave and half would immediately take off their clothes with everyone else.
RL: I wasn’t around for that. There haven’t been any out-of-hand parties like that since I’ve lived here. Well, there have been but not that are fit to print.
OC: We have a lot of first year girls puke in our bathroom.
RL: Sometimes they puke in the hallway and it runs into my bedroom!

TMW: What is the sexual dynamic in your house?

RL: Well, Oliver’s intensely attracted to both of us.

OC: When Aaron and Reed have people over they get up so early that their respective partners are allowed to leave without being bothered by any of the roommates. I, however, sleep late enough that both of them have already left the house and my respective partner and me are allowed to take our time, make a nice breakfast, leave at out leisure, often take a shower together. But in general the sexual dynamics are comfortable because, for the most part, we know who each other is hooking up with at any given time.

RL: It’s a little bit hard to tell who Aaron’s hooking up with.
AR: I do think it’s good. We’re supportive. We are, generally, in terms of the recent Macalester event, sex positive. We try and encourage each other to be healthy and having good fun sexual practices.

TMW: Are you hipsters?

RL: Yes, yes! I don’t know, a little bit. We each have our respective hipster qualities but hipster is also the most arbitrary definition ever.
OC: Hipster is never an identity that I would adopt for myself, though it’s an identity that’s often assigned to me.

TMW: Why is it assigned to you?

OC: Well, because I dress well, and I’m a foodie.

AR: I think it’s the style of clothing probably and I ride my bike.

OC: We all three have fixed-gears.

AR: I also think it’s a general term that’s assigned to people of our generation who are at quote-unquote “elite” liberal arts colleges and li
sten to bands that are listed on Pitchfork. But it doesn’t mean that it embodies any of us, really.
RL: I’d say most of my shirts are from American Apparel.
AR: Is that one?
RL: Yep.

OC: It’s a tough question. … because it’s never a way that I would really self-identify, but because I enjoy riding my bike, living as sustainably as possible, wearing clothes that are both comfortable and that flatter my body-type.
RL: [.] by that he means his complete lack of a buttocks.
OC: I don’t know how to answer this question!

TMW: When you guys look back at Macalester and your time here over almost four years, what are your thoughts?

OC: I’m really glad I’ve found one: friends that are unconditionally supportive of who I want to be, and two: that I’ve found faculty members in this college in the HMCS Department and the WGSS Department and the History Department that are unconditionally supportive of who I want to be and what I want to do academically. I fear that kind of support isn’t going to be found by first-years who are entering the school this year or next year because we’re losing a lot of great faculty members. [Former WGSS professor] Scott Morgensen not receiving tenure, for example, to me represented a shift in the college’s policies.
AR: I have been ready to graduate for like three years, but I think that, like Oliver said, it’s the people, which is the most meaningful part of this to me. I’m not sure if I would have a found a supportive circle if I didn’t go to college, but I’m glad that I found it here. Politically and what-not Macalester is extremely questionable. It’s like they try and pretend to be an engaged institution but what they really want to be is like an elite, secluded institution. It’s like putting on one face and doing another thing, but there are still good people here.
RL: Well, I just hope the name of the institution I graduated from gets me a job somehow and I’m not judged on my intellect or capability. I don’t know. I guess there’s a lot to complain about but I’m just glad I didn’t go to the University of Minnesota, Duluth. I think Macalester’s all right. It’s changing, but if you don’t like it now, go to Evergreen.