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2005-04-11 - 11:54 a.m.

It has happened.

Some will see this improbable event as a greater sign of the apocalypse than the re-election of everyone’s favorite grammarian. Some may see it as a beacon of hope in these dark times, reciting whispered prayers, making pilgrimages and leaving tribute to whatever deity they hold responsible. Events such as these do not pass without repercussion, so all across this earth must stand at the ready for the spiritual and karmic after shocks of such radical change, for only every few years, when the planets align, and the spirits congeal their powers over one nexus, driving the forces of nature, spirit, and human will into action, does my apartment get cleaned.

I can see my floor. And I cleaned that too.

My little hovel usually bears the tell-tale indications of bachelor living: scraps of food in awkwardly ripped plastic bags littering the field, beside fliers, junk mail and the occasional sock, forming an odd collage of life, beside a pile of laundry that seems to follow the growth patterns of blob, infecting near-by pieces of clothing with fetid stench; the hint of Febreeze and Glade, fighting a loosing battle against the screaming wiles of over-worn underwear and molding coffee. Most stereotypical, the sink is overflowing with little bits of unwanted food, the domain of the eyes that could not be conquered by the stomach.

Occasionally, when she’d come over, she’d wash a few dishes, in some vain attempt to pretend that the conditions she sometimes sleeps in are in any way sanitary. She has her limits though:

“I’m not messing with the mold.”

I do make stabs at the dishes, knocking off a good third of them, but ones at the bottom of the sink, the ones that have been there the longest, those are left to lament, devoured by a cornucopia of coagulating corrosives in every color of the rainbow.

They’re gone. All of them. My cabinets are overflowing with dishes that, if not clean, at least had the gunk chiseled off.

It began as a simple attempt to take out the trash and scrub up the dishes. I filled up the sink with soapy water and turned to my trash pail, pulling out the plastic bag. As soon as it cleared the container, a mouse popped out the bottom and went scrambling for the fridge. Brat may have gone to a better place, but he willed his dominion over apartment thirty to his nearest and dearest.

The trashcan is usually a safe bastion to throw food, but upon further inspection, I noticed my mop had fallen down behind it, forming a perfect bridge up into my compost pile. I’d like to believe that the mice in my apartment complex have not yet evolved opposable thumbs and the problem solving skills necessary to build pathways to busted bagels, but it may well be taking place behind the scenes, meaning that in a few short years, the burden of responsibility that comes with added awareness and ability to change the world around them will result in the rat contingent breaking into my liquor cabinet rather than my pantry.

With the whiskers back in town, I went off on a rampage, dragging five trash bags down the six flights, scrubbing the floors with a towel, neatening up my books on their shelves (i.e. window sills), busting up the Styrofoam packaging my new computer left in its wake (easily the most fun of the cleaning process. Even if it’s inanimate and weakly constructed, there is still something inordinately pleasing about kicking the shit out of something.) and finally replacing the light bulb in my study that had sat busted for about two months. The laundry still needed doing but at least the Blob was cordoned off to one corner.

I even cleaned the stove.

Immediately I found myself desiring a full meal with as much finery surrounding it as possible. Now that I had a decent domicile, my temple renewed, I felt I should continue the trend with a fine formal dinner. Given my supplies, this meant adorning my standard mac and cheese with microwave mashed potatoes, drinking milk out of a clean glass instead of the container, eating out of a bowl as opposed to the pan I made the mac in, and the sporadic use of silverware.

Even more stunning, I washed my dishes directly after finishing the meal, instead of beginning the science project anew.

After a long day of museum visits, she decided to come over and visit me, since I’d declared the weekend “John no leave his apartment cause he’s broke” – weekend. I warned her I’d been cleaning, and immediately, she pictured me clearing a path through the squalor and calling it neat. Upon entering, she nearly fainted and needed to be treated with an oxygen tank on my couch for a full twenty minutes following. After a full examination, followed by a stern interrogation: “Why? Is this a trick? Was there a fire?”, we decided to enjoy the new space for romping. A glint in her eye, and an absence of a shudder in skin, she gingerly pulled at my shirt, suggesting a new use for all the new space.

For the rest of the evening, we giggled away, as she unleashed her Deadly Spiral, and I slashed back with my Short Hopper, in a vicious but truly enjoyable game of Four Square.

The super-intelligent prehensile rodents made popcorn and formed cheering sections.

My mouse groupies were cuter.

It’s good to be clean. Kind of like being God.

Except not at all.

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