Sunday, February 26, 2006

Living with Cavemen.

This weekend, as usual, Peter and I took care of some things around the house.

We installed a digital thermostat (actually Peter did this BY HIMSELF!), plugged up the drafty gaps under the doors, replaced a bunch of light bulbs, replenished and re-organized our fridge and did our weekly cleaning and filing.
I LOVE our little home and I'm so proud to own it, but some days I have to think back on past times and remind myself that it IS worth the upkeep to have your own little piece of neat, tidy, organized heaven.

I remember being a kid and wondering why adults (especially my parents) made such a big fuss about home maintenance. Everything from chores to weeding, to painting, to replacing furnace filters seemed like a mountain of neverending tasks that just came back again the moment you thought they were gone.

I used to think to my 14-year-old self, as I was being made to simonize my bathroom in preparation for the arrival of company, "If everyone just stopped cleaning, painting and all that other stuff, then there would be nobody to impress because everybody's house would be messy. Then nobody would care." Impeccable logic for a 14-year-old.

I had a chance to try this theory out for myself. It was called university. More specifically, living in a smallish house with 5-7 other students and 2 bathrooms. At first I was like, "Cool! I don't have to worry about cleaning up, cause nobody cares..." Then I realized that, O horror of horrors! I cared! Worse, I was the *ONLY* one who cared!

That's when it all fell apart. My roommates realized that, not only could I clean, but if things got grimy enough, I would clean. It was my doom. I went from being the beloved bouncy cute-chick of the house, to the MOM and the MAID all wrapped into one resentful, acrid package.

- Warning! The following true story is not intended to be read by the squeamish-at-heart. -

It gets worse. Me and Stephanie, the other girl of the house, had claimed the downstairs bathroom as our own. It was hair, mildew, toothpaste-stain, other-stain and odour free, thanks to my weekly scrubbing efforts. It was my little piece of heaven. Males were strictly prohibited from using it, on pain of death.

The guys bathed in their own hairy, sticky filth. Happy as swine they were, washing their faces in a sink re-enameled with toothpaste and shaving residue. "At least," they'd say to themselves, while peeling back the mildew-glued shower curtain, "we don't have to keep THIS room clean!"
There was only one hitch: The guys were supposed to take turns getting large Costco-packs of toilet paper. Unfortunately they were all too lazy to actually go out and buy it. Their short-term coping strategy was to plan out their day so that they didn't NEED to use toilet paper at home*. I won't discuss specifics here; suffice to say, it didn't work, so they started stealing our (the girls') toilet paper** - and then denying it.

At this point, my female roommate went off to New Zealand for a month. A wise strategy on her part, but I had something else up my sleeve. I decided to conduct an experiment: how long could the 4 neanderthals I was living with go without toilet paper?

I bought a new 6-pack of my Pluffy-Soft and kept it hidden in a tupperware box under some books in my bedroom. Then, using some duct tape and a kitchen knife, I rigged up a toilet paper holder under the sink in my bathroom. It was a thing of marvel. Undetectable, unless you were to stick your head in among the feminine hygiene products*** and look straight up. I had my bets that they'd crack in a few days.

THREE WEEKS.

It took 22 days until the Costco-pack of Ultra-Cheapwipe arrived in the front hall. It was Sideshow Bob (a.k.a. Pete G.) who finally cracked. Apparently he'd been caught trying to steal one of the industrial-size rolls of the aforementioned commercial lavatory sandpaper from his work.
Later on that week, over a BEvERage or two on the patio, the guys came clean with their coping strategies. They ranged from McDonalds napkins to last month's Stuff magazine. The plunger had enjoyed quite a workout during those 3 weeks, by the sound of things.

I moved out of that sludge-hole, and into an apartment with ONE other FEMALE roommate less than a month later. There's only so much a girl can take.

When I think back to those (and many other) experiences, it gives me that extra elbow grease that I need to get through weekends like these.

Besides, I've learned an important lesson that I now live by: Never coexist with more than ONE neanderthal at a time.****







*Now, there are a few things that make my blood boil, and this happens to be one of them: Men don't seem to understand that women need toilet paper EVERY TIME they use the bathroom. **The soft kind, not the recycled-newsprint-meets-brillo-pad kind that you find in your local tavern's loo.
*** Strategically placed to discourage male searching efforts.
**** That is, unless/until you and your neanderthal have a little neanderthal of your own.
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