Monday, July 5, 2010

Cleaning Up

Lately I have been spending my time cleaning up other people's messes. It all started a few weeks ago. The Boy had sold a house on a land contract and the guy called him to say he was moving out of town and asked the Boy if he would buy back the house for what he owed on it. It seemed like the perfect project for the summer. A quick touch up for the house and then put it right back on the market. So the Boy agreed.

As soon as he took possession of the house, it was clear that it would require more than just a touch up. He spent the first few days removing bags of garbage from the house. Then I came over and we started cleaning things up. The downstairs bathroom was a disaster. The drawers of the vanity were filled with cigarette butts and it was obvious that the toilet and sink hadn't been cleaned for months. I sprayed everything down with bleach and kept on scrubbing.

The kitchen was in complete disarray. The cabinets and granite countertops had a thick layer of grime on them and the refrigerator was the last place I would store anything consumable. There was dirt and food particles stuck everywhere. And in the freezer was a pile of frozen lima beans. At some point they must have fallen out of the bag and the guy just left them there. Every time we opened the freezer door, a few of them would sprinkle out onto the kitchen floor.

"Fucking lima beans," the Boy said as we picked them up for the tenth time. It was such a funny statement. I would have never considered lima beans to be so objectionable, but in this case I had to agree with him.

We spent the entire day on Saturday working on the house. I cleaned out the kitchen while the Boy pressure washed and scrubbed all of the windows to remove the hazy film that had collected over time. When we got home that evening, we were completely exhausted.

It's not that I mind helping the Boy with his project. It is actually kind of nice to work together towards a common goal. What amazes me is that someone could completely trash the place in 18 months time and then pack up and leave town while the Boy is left to clean up the mess.

After all of the cleaning at the Boy's new house, I spent a good part of Sunday cleaning up my own house and getting caught up on some laundry. By the evening it was time to go out and play. The Boy had invited me over for a 4th of July cook out with some of his friends. I knew what I was getting into when I accepted his invitation. Whenever the Boy gets together with his college friends a lot of alcohol is consumed. This inevitably leads to the emergence of the Boy's alter ego, who I refer to as Drunk Boy.

I have never been one of those people who could drink all night long. I like to have a few drinks, get a quick buzz and then I am pretty much done. If I have more than four drinks I just get really tired and then I want to go to sleep. But these people know how to party. They go through cases of beer, bottles of liquor and rounds of shots. It just never ends.

The party started around 7:00 PM. By 10:00 I had a nice buzz going and was hanging out with a few of the Boy's friends. I started to water down my drinks with more lemonade and less vodka so I could keep my wits about me. Drunk Boy was starting to emerge.

As the party went on, I figured I would take a break and start a little clean up. It was after midnight and some of the crowd had gone home. So I went outside and put all of the empty bottles and beer cans into a box. Then I started in on the kitchen counters. I threw all of the cups and plastic bags away and moved all of the alcohol back onto the kitchen table, which was serving as a make-shift bar.

Then I went out in the backyard to visit with the random drunk people. By now I had switched to straight lemonade and was feeling pretty sober. They were all telling me what a nice person I am to put up with all of their drunken ramblings and they kept asking why I didn't get hammered with the Boy. I explained to them that when Drunk Boy shows up I like to stay a little sober just to make sure the house doesn't get too trashed and in case someone needs a ride home. They paused and looked at me quizzically for a moment. Then they dismissed me and shifted the conversation back to a more appropriate party topic like who knows how to swear in a foreign language.

My whole life it seems like I have been making excuses for who I am. When we were in elementary school, the other kids would give us a hard time because our clothes were too nice. When we were in high school, my parents showed up to every school event and everyone would ask why they did that. Now as an adult I am having to explain to a bunch of drunk people why I am choosing to be responsible. I don't sit in judgment of them for being drunk. Why should I have to justify to them my choice to be sober, especially when part of the reason is to make sure that everyone else gets home safely.

It was after 1:00 AM and the party was still going. One of Drunk Boy's friends had downed one too many shots and she was laying on the living room couch with a towel and a big aluminum pot, in case she got sick. The music was blaring and the party was still in full swing all around her. I asked her if she wanted me to take her home and she agreed.

We got into my car and kept the pot on her lap, just in case. We hadn't even driven to the end of the street when she realized that she was going to throw up. I pulled over and she opened the passenger door and puked her guts out into the street. When she was done, I gave her some napkins from the glove compartment and we continued our ride back to her apartment.

I escorted her to the door to make sure she got in safely and then headed back to the party. Of course, everyone wanted to know what had happened. Throwing up is a big event to drunk people. I am not sure why, but I think it is the same morbid curiosity that causes gawker delays on the freeway. After reporting back to the group that yes, in fact she had gotten sick, I took the pot and filled it with some soapy water to clean up the door jam of my car.

I walked back into the kitchen to empty out the pot and Drunk Boy was sitting there with one of the other random drunk people. "Hey did you need some help?" he asked. I told him it was fine and that I pretty much had things under control. "Ok, that's good because I am feeling pretty lazy right now baby," he slurred at me.

That was the last straw. I looked at Drunk Boy and calmly explained that it was time for me to go home. It's not that I was angry with him, I was just done with the whole experience. It started to occur to him that he was not behaving very well. He followed me as I went to his room to get my stuff. "Let me walk you to your car," he suggested.

"Are you sure you have the energy to walk me out?" I asked him, with a hint of sarcasm in my voice. "I know that you are feeling pretty tired." I was sitting in his desk chair and Drunk Boy got down on the floor on his knees so he could look me right in the eyes. Clearly the Boy was still in there somewhere and was desperately trying to evict Drunk Boy before he really messed things up. He put his hands on top of mine and his eyes searched for some glimmer of forgiveness.

He looked so pathetic that just started to laugh. "So, for future reference, when a girl comes back into the house from cleaning up your friend's puke from the side of her car it's probably not a good idea to tell her that you are too tired and lazy to come out and help," I explained to him.

"Yeah," he agreed. "Bad call on my part. Sorry about that." And that was all we needed to say. I guess you might wonder whether I was too easy on him. But the fact is that the Boy has built up a pretty huge emotional bank account over the past few months. And one drunken night isn't going to change that.

We walked out to my car and he stopped to hug me in the middle of the street. Even though he can be irritating at times, Drunk Boy is actually sort of cute. "So," I asked. "Is my real boyfriend going to be back tomorrow?" I smiled at him as he pulled me in closer.

"Yes," he said. "I promise." And then I got into my car and drove away while Drunk Boy started skipping up the sidewalk towards the house.

I was so happy to get back to my clean house last night and wake up in my cozy bed this morning. Being out in the world and seeing how other people live just reminds me how lucky I am to have this life.

Some people are comfortable going through life and letting other people clean up after them. I prefer to be responsible for myself. And I guess I'll keep an eye on Drunk Boy, whenever he shows up.

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