So as you can imagine, living in a house with a minimum of nine other college men at a time, cleanliness was not at the top of many folks’ to do lists. Though I myself toiled to keep the house in some sort of order, there was only so much I could do. Before quitting that is.
My first reaction was just to get angry, and display my ultimate disgust in the most public of forums whenever possible. Aragorn was also known to martyr himself frequently when fulfilling a cleaning act, muttering complaints about how he was clearly the only person who vacuums and how much he sacrifices for the house. On one occasion, I’m ashamed to say I did throw something. A giant wall poster menu of the local Chinese restaurant soon remedied the structural damage. Only Bilbo matched the cleaning instinct that I had, but he was often writing or waxing philosophical (Excelsior!), so he rarely witnessed my vain attempts to do the 3,000 dishes, and therefore didn’t have the chance to take pity on me.
However, the conclusion I eventually came to was that these men (and dwarves, elves, and wizards) that I was surrounded by were not selfish people expecting me to clean up after them, they just thought differently then I. Where I saw a pile of disgusting rotting dishes, they saw a counter with stuff on it. My next thought would have been “Ugh, I guess I better clean those up, since a couple of them are mine, and they’re quite nasty, so it’d be nice to take care of it.” Their next thought would have been “Was Courtney Cox in all three of the Scream movies?” So it’s not that they thought “Oh, Samwise will surely clean those dishes of mine,” which is what my emotional overanalytic self thought, but it just never occurred to them.
Dishes were obviously one source of disgust, though the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had to do (and I had to do it two or three times), was unclogging the garbage disposal. I’m not even going to describe the disgust level of this act, or you will surely soil your monitor with your lunch.
So though the dishes were an area of growing disgust, the trash can was certainly another. Before I moved in, Elrond and Treebeard shared the whole house between the two of them. The garbage can they chose to place in the kitchen (which is always where you want to position your largest trash can) was roughly one cubic foot. When I moved in, you could stand five feet away from this shih tzu sized trash can (or at least where you assumed it to be), throw a rolled up piece of paper on top of the pile, and it would roll completely back to your feet. The thing that perplexed me was not the size of the trash pile, but what exactly Elrond and Treebeard were ever planning on doing with it. Were they planning on loading them into bags and hauling them somewhere? Maybe piling them in the back yard and burning it all as a dump offering?
Point being, they never really thought ahead. Here’s another good example that happened on a number of occasions. Having a house of 10+ college men, you tend to inherit a lot of food from various potlucks, parties and the like (“hey, your housemates can finish this off right?” are sayings my fellowship would often hear when attending events, after which we would be saddled with a platter of mini sandwiches or cookies.) These platters would typically wind up on the kitchen table, consumed within an hour or two. After the platter had been consumed, so that all that was left was a giant piece of pizza-shaped cardboard with a clear plastic top and loads of crums, I would often find said platter sitting directly on top of the trash can covering the opening, virtually untouched by its 3 foot journey. So instead of actually disposing of the platter, someone (who shall remain nameless, or alias-less) would place it directly on top of the trash can, and assume that magical fairies would show up at some point in the night, shrink the container down to raisin size, and deposit it appropriately in the trash can.
By the time we actually all did get the hang of bagging trash and tossing it into the garage, a bigger problem emerged. The trash is now just rotting in the garage. We will have to find a way to dispose of it. After days and days of research, we discovered that the trash men do not just show up and take any old trash off the curb. You must hold it down and tag it like an endangered Gazelle. Well this plan was right out, because tags cost money. $1 a piece. In this day and age. Back into the garage with it!
So our plan of attack was to load garbage bags in cars, drive them to our learning institution, and dump it in their dumpsters. I mean we’re paying them like $18,000 a year right, the least they could do is get rid of our trash for us. However, the smell of rotting garbage, and the way that smell tends to rub off onto car seats was becoming a problem. So we would have to think of another plan.
What better way to deal with the trash while we formulated a better plan than to toss it all into the backyard. The rodents will take care of the rotting bits right? This idea didn’t last long when I arrived home one day and in a moment of Hitchcockian horror, I looked up to the skies to see hundreds of seagulls circling our house like World War II Bombers, ready to destroy us at any minute. As I approached the house, Gimli walked out and the look in his eyes said it all. “I’m scared, Sam. I’m real scared.”
Then Bilbo had an inspiring idea (of course he did, who else would?). Why don’t we actually follow the rules, buy tags (splitting up the cost, 10c a piece), and have friendly garbage warriors take them away in their death machine once a week? Wonderful. Brilliant. Another winning idea, Bilbo, some were heard to say. The meeting adjourned in inspired marching, leaving Bilbo and myself behind. Disaster, at least for the meantime, was diverted.
“But wait,” Bilbo and I thought. “Who’s gonna clean up the garage and actually take out the trash?” If you’ve been reading this post, I think you already know the answer to that.
Stay tuned for “Cleanliness Part 2” where Sam encounters even more unspeakable horrors. Until then,