I never really noticed I started operating in a new way until others started calling me out. After 26 years of managing to dodge shower-cleaning duties, I miraculously flipped a switch. First, my dad made note: "Either you clean a lot or lie to me often." Next, a visiting friend when I automatically rose to clear his newly-emptied glass: "You are... very particular." So what? I don't really see the problem with that. So now that I live alone and have no one else to blame for messes, I like to run a tight ship of neatness in my apartment.
It would be nice if the impulses stopped when I leave my complex, but they sadly do not. Instead, I find myself doing borderline creepy stuff without any cursory thought. Like collecting and tossing damp, renegade paper towels from sink areas lining public restrooms? ... Yeah. Or silently cursing when company stomps around my freshly-mopped floors with muddy sneaks. Also guilty. I guess I'm a bit of an obsessively clean person, even though it developed totally without warning or consent. This is just who I am; the hand I was dealt at my quarter-life mile marker. As such, friends, family, and lovers have had to adjust accordingly. Some of the common things that happen when you learn when there's a neat freak in your life:
They will never be stationary during a house party.
Regardless of the chill vibes your house party surely has, your little weirdo friend (hi) will spend a majority of the soiree collecting empty glasses and tossing used napkins. They just want to be helpful and cannot fathom the possible OK-ness of leaving a mess in their wake, so don't even bother trying to explain, TBH. Just leave some Clorox wipes on the counter and let them be.
They need to clean posthaste.
You know all that gunk sticks and hardens on dishes over time, right? It becomes even more impossible to clean and also if you want me to relax, it must happen immediately. If they see something, they must clean that something. Because...
You know they cannot relax until there's order.
You gotta exercise a little patience while they do their little cleaning dance until they feel calm again. For us, outside chaos literally feels like inside chaos and that makes us feel tense to insane.
You can see the physical anxiety they experience when children are also present.
Kids are seriously awesome and I'm a way proud aunt and all that, but real talk: they double as tiny, destructive tornadoes. I spent an actual full day untangling muscle tension after two small nieces and a nephew spent the night at my place because EVERYTHING GOES EVERYWHERE. I am not exaggerating when I say I regard the zen that seems to come along with parenthood with the utmost respect (and envy).
You feel a little nervous when they use your bathroom.
Only because the last time they wordlessly emerged after a good minute and the sink was mysteriously blemish-free.
You plan to wear only easily-removed shoes when hanging at their place.
Because although we weirdos never say it, we probably recently vacuumed and are watching your dusty kicks' every move.
They are super eager to help with moving duties.
Scrubbing away all living evidence of your old place? Please. Scrubbing away all living evidence of other people in your new one? GIVE ME SOME YELLOW GLOVES NOW.
They will teach and remind you The Upsetting Truth About Sponges.
They won't stop apologizing about their sloppiness anyway.
It's compulsive but it isn't always exhaustive. Stop looking at that dust bunny I missed, it's driving me bonkers.
You can try to clean first, but there is really no point.
Listen, we definitely appreciate y'all healthy ("normal") folks making the effort, but we have a routine in place. Let us do the damn thing and if you want to help, feel free to top off our drink.
You don't take their tic personally.
Sure, you know for a hard fact they wiped down the back tank of your toilet with dry TP while in there, but that's just who they are, not a judgement on what they think of you — plus, now you don't have to do clean that.
They're actually pretty serene and fun after spring cleaning.
Catch us post-seasonal-apartment-purge and boy, can we party. But would you hand me that empty Solo cup, please? I'm making a stack for the trash. Thanks.
Images: Getty Images; Giphy (12)