I arrived in Hawaii on Thursday, and B and I have been spending the past three days unpacking and cleaning the new apartment. It's been a lot of hard (and sweaty!) work, but we've hit a nice calm now that we've finished nearly all of it. Today is a day for reading, drawing, writing, and generally chilling in our nice new home, and I would like to talk to you for a moment about filth.
The man who lived in this apartment prior to us was here for two years, and we are pretty sure he never cleaned it. Not once. I imagine meeting him. First there is a smell, then a greasy dark cloud as he approaches, creeping ahead of him like a smokescreen that leaves all it touches gray and slimy in its wake. His hair is dark and matted, and he makes Charles Schultz's character Pigpen look like a paragon of purity. I watch him pluck an insect out of his hair and eat it as he grins at me, one twitching leg sticking out from between his two remaining teeth...
Characteristic of university housing everywhere, our apartment was cleaned before we moved in. Also characteristic of university housing everywhere, they did a piss-poor job of it. We got to see the place before and after, and I'll tell you here what they actually did: The greatest and most productive of their efforts was to steam-clean the carpet. They removed the waxy tan opaque 2-square-foot mystery stain from the carpet in the bedroom entrance. They painted over the other multicolored mystery stain that stood out on the cinderblock walls behind the head of the bed. It was oily, black and brown and red and yellow, and now is painted over. They picked up the dead roaches, and the moldy hat, and removed the leftover dessicated possessions of the prior tenant, and I think they maybe even washed the windows.
B's boss was apparently impressed with how well they cleaned the apartment, but I suspect from the evidence that he didn't really look. The carpet was still stained and tacky in places. The walls were probably most recently painted a decade ago, excepting the one spot they painted over, and exhibited both shiny and dark spots that will not come off. There are a total of 13 maintenance work orders we need to put in, the highlights being the bath/shower that shoots water out of both ends, as well as the temperature control knob; 5 lights that are out; a handle-less oven; no electricity in the bathroom; no screens in the windows (allowing any and all insects access to our living space); and a toilet seat that's about ready to fall off. The bathroom reeked of urine, the cupboards were covered in roach droppings, and touching any surface resulted in greasy grimy fingertips. Anywhere that appeared safe invariably had an invisible spiderweb, set to ambush our faces and fingers. A column of ants marched its way across the bathroom wall, which B adeptly dealt with with a lethal spray of aerosol cleaner. Minutes later, it was a macabre line of 6-legged corpses we had to scrape off the wall. The fight was on.
B and I became a whirlwind of cleanliness. Scented candles, Clorox wipes and Formula 409 were our tools, fueled by hot coffee and loud pop music. We did the Dance of Disinfection. I developed a new appreciation for the device known as the Swiffer. So versatile! I'm fairly certain the Swiffer can be used against roaches as well... Of course, you couldn't kill the invincible buggers with it, but perhaps you could pin one down and run it out of the house, or at least keep the horde at bay. I don't intend to have to find out though (in fact, at this very second, B is on her knees spraying all the dark corners and joinings with a "house-friendly" anti-roach spray. Chemical warfare; treaties be damned). At any rate, enhanced by my Jeet Kun Do and Marine Martial Art training I wielded the Swiffer smoothly and effectively: No surface was safe! She wiped the tables while I scrubbed the floors and walls. It was hot and muggy, and we worked ourselves exhausted. Then we had some wine and watched a movie.
It's nice to be home.