Assignment: Clean Up Someone Else’s Shit
posted by November 9 at 11:45 AMon
David, a junior at a university in Seattle, wrote to me because he was disgusted by his roommate’s messy bedroom and he wanted someone to come and clean it up. David told me it was important Andrea’s room was cleaned soon, because every resident of the house had to climb over her piles of underwear, tank tops, beer bottles, unopened care packages, and heaping Glad bags filled with hangers to get to their rooms upstairs. The pack-rat roommate did not know I was coming to clean, and David intended to surprise her Oprah-style with a clean new room.
I went to David’s house last night around 10:30. He answered the door and led me to Andrea’s room. Then he handed me a Corona and said, “You’re going to need this.” I looked around. It was hard to imagine where to start. Which pile of clothing was more unsightly; the mountain of dirty thongs, period-stained leggings, and crumpled Anthropology bags filled with unwashed clothing to the left of the door, or the larger pile of purses, luggage, opened cardboard boxes and coats that lay in the center of the room near the bed? I stuck out my hand and felt around. That’s when my hand brushed over something damp. The lacy black underwear, perhaps, or maybe it was the grey unisex sweatpants. I couldn’t tell.
David’s three other female roommates came into the room and sat on the messy roommate’s bed. “This is fun,” one of them said, observing me. “I feel like I’m watching TV.” The three of them took bong hits and stared at my hands.
I unearthed a Hello Kitty polo, and one of the roommates insisted I try it on, along with a pair of hot red pants. “Just do it! You know you want to!” one of them yelled. I told her I did not want to.
After about twenty minutes my hands and arms started to itch. I couldn’t figure out if it was my usual dry skin acting up, or if Andrea’s had infected me with some sort of body lice. “Don’t worry, the only STD you could possibly get here would be scabies,” one of the roommates said, lying on the bed and staring at the ceiling. The other roommates giggled.
The itching passed after a couple more minutes of folding, and I began to make a dent in the soggy mountain to the left of the door. One of the roommates and I hoisted a dresser from the basement and began to stuff it with clothing. I didn’t organize the clothes very well: jeans went with tank tops and undies into the same drawer. I feared that obsessive organization would slow me down, and there were enough clothes to last for many more nights of folding. Andrea had used her employee’s discount to buy half of the season’s offerings at Anthropology. There were also Value Village and Goodwill t-shirts, Mossimo jackets, vintage belts, H+M sweaters, even a Japanese Kimono. Andrea could have eclectically clothed half a Greyhound bus station.
After about two more hours of folding, Andrea finally came home. “Why are there people in my room?!” she yelled. I explained to her that this was an intervention, much like the Meth head interventions on A&E… but about clothing. She had too much of it, she was addicted to it, and it was ruining her relationship with her roommates. Andrea looked mortified. “You mean you’ve just been sitting here folding my clothing this whole time?” Yes, we had, and after seeing Andrea’s stained undies, moldy bed sheets and lacy lingerie, I knew more about her than I ever wanted to know.
Suddenly Andrea’s face turned a brighter shade of red. “Oh my god, I need to grab something” she mumbled. She tore a page out of the Stranger newspaper, which was sitting on the chair, and grabbed at a dark corner of the clothing heap. “This guy left a used condom here, but I got it. You don’t have to throw it out. I will.”