Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

Today and tomorrow, you, the general literate public of the greater Boston University area, are in for a special treat: a point-counterpoint discussion between myself and my esteemed colleague, Mr. Justin Aclin, of the column Hijinx Ensue. We will debate in a civilized and intelligent manner, in these very pages, about an issue that is quite dear to our hearts: the issue of hygiene and general cleanliness.

As you may have been able to tell by the above headline, I am a pro-cleanliness kind of guy. And while cleaning my room doesn't necessarily make me feel god-like, it certainly does give me something to be proud of for a while. How many activities give you such a tangible and wonderful reward as being able to see your reflection in your countertop? Or being able to see discernible, evenly spaced lines in your carpet after vacuuming? Or being able to eat off your bathroom floor? I think you would be hard-pressed to think of one. Cleaning your room or apartment makes you feel great! The reason they call it "spring cleaning" is because cleaning your living environs truly evokes the feelings of vernal rebirth in your soul.

While at home, most of us have a room we can fully call our own — a place where we won't be looked at oddly if we demand that everything on our walls meets at a perfect 90-degree angle. But here, at college, we are faced with a number of problems with our individual cleanliness identities — namely, roommates. Many of you would be surprised to learn that Daily Free Press Friday columnist Justin Aclin is my roommate ... and he is a total slob.

In the morning, I make myself breakfast and immediately wash all the dishes I've used. I then place my unused breakfast ingredients back into the refrigerator, where they are organized by alphabet, freshness and continent of origin. All is well, and the kitchen is spotless, until Justin wakes up. Do you remember the character Pigpen from the "Peanuts" comic strip? Because that's exactly what Justin looks like when he runs down the hallway from his bedroom to our kitchen. And when I give him a bright, "Good morning!" to start his day off right, he always responds with a cold "(expletive) you!" Even his mouth is dirty!

I'm all for compromises in living situations. They say variety — and not paprika, as I had previously thought — is the spice of life. I like to look at my current situation as a learning experience, and I take it all in stride. I'm just the Felix to Justin's Oscar, the Engels to his Marx, the Mr. Clean to his ... his ... Baron Filth! God, I can't take it anymore! This mess is driving me insane!

Right now I'm locked in my room because Justin has sullied the common area so badly that I simply can't bear to look at it anymore. There are soiled dishes on the floor, non-ironed items of clothing strewn about the furniture and a pile of trash so large, I'm surprised rats haven't started nesting yet. And the worst part about it is I'm certain he's doing it just to spite me.

Just the other day, I was unselfishly cleaning everyone's dishes. After 40 minutes of high-quality scrubbing, drying and organizing, I was satisfied with a job well done. But just as I removed my bright yellow rubber dishwashing gloves, Justin came running out of his room with a pile of dirty dishes, all of which required serious soaking. The bastard held out on me! And I'm at least 80 percent sure I heard him laughing when he ran back into his room.

Justin is so unbelievably and illogically messy that there can be only one explanation: He is putrescence personified, human hogwash or some kind of horrendous Frankenstein's monster of filth. I have a theory that if I spray him with Formula 409, he'll scatter into a million tiny beadlets, just like that really cool scene in Terminator 2. Of course, then I'd have to clean that up, too.

Honestly, would it be so difficult to simply clean up after yourself when you make a mess? Or shut a cabinet after you open it? Or resist the urge to open a brand new box of cereal and spill it on the floor? These are the simple things that Justin and the rest of you feculent mess-makers could do to keep me and my right-minded brethren from going insane and forming some kind of wild, cleaning dervish.

Ask yourself this question: Would you rather sleep in a neat, freshly cleaned bed, its blankets tucked lovingly beneath the disinfected mattress? Or a pile of old banana peels and apple cores? Tomorrow, Justin will try to convince you to use the latter, but I think we all know the right answer to this question. Usually, there's a middle ground in these sorts of moral dilemmas, but not here. To quote the great philosopher Immanuel Kant, "I'm right, you're wrong — now suck it hard and suck it long."


Bless This Mess

by Justin Aclin

Welcome to part two of our point-counterpoint series discussing cleanliness. By now, you've probably read yesterday's column by my roommate and Pantomime Horse columnist, Casey "I Call Him Deuce" Schreiner. If not, I urge you to go to the archives at and read it. And then disregard it, because it's a dirty lie. Well, actually, in Casey's case they're probably impeccably clean lies.

Yes, it's true. I'm a slightly sloppy person. And what's wrong with that? As you can tell from my headline, I'm taking the anti-cleanliness position in this great debate. Who needs to waste time cleaning? I have much better things I could be doing with my time. The perfect example of this is making your bed. What the heck is the point? You're going to sleep in it again, like, 18 hours later. Messiness is just a lifestyle choice. It's saying, "I would rather read a book or smell a flower than spend three hours disinfecting my bathroom."

Oh, sure. I can see cleaning up when company's coming over, maybe, or when you start tripping over dust bunnies. But constant cleanliness? That, my friends, is a burden no one should have to shoulder. Unfortunately, constant cleanliness is what my good friend Casey seems to be suggesting to us. It's a wonder Casey even finds time to write a weekly column, what with all the fingerprints it must leave all over his keyboard that have to be wiped off. In case you couldn't tell from his column yesterday, Casey is an obsessive neat freak.

Let me describe for you a typical day in the Casey/Justin/Two Other Guys Who Don't Write Columns compound. I wake up and attempt to take a shower, only to find that Casey has once again used all the hot water. I confronted him about this once, but he just kept muttering that he needs his "scrub time." I tried to tell him that there's more skin on his loofah than on his body, but the vacuum drowned me out as it so often does.

Anyway, after that I head into the living room where Casey is watching "Martha Stewart Living" and taking notes. I eat a bagel, wipe my hands on a napkin, and rest the napkin on our coffee table. Then, Casey looks at me. He doesn't say anything. He doesn't even glare. He just looks at me, almost as though he's sad. If I don't promptly remove the napkin from the table, he begins to cough. At first I think he's just trying to get my attention, but soon I realize he's actually coughing. Then it occurs to me: messiness makes Casey physically ill. One time I accidentally dropped a sandwich on the floor and he went into diabetic shock.

I tell you, I love Casey like a brother, but a man can only be sprayed in the face with Lysol so many times before he loses his patience and vision. I've tried to wash dishes, only to have Casey wrest them away from me, screaming that he doesn't want me spreading my filth to our flatware. That's ridiculous! I make sure to at least brush off my filth before handling the dishes. I've even tried to straighten up our common area, but when I hung a "mid-spring" jacket up in the spot reserved for a "late-spring" jacket, I thought Casey was going to have a panic attack. What can I say? Casey loves to clean and I don't, so I let him clean. One time (and take or leave the other examples as you will, but this is absolutely true) Casey was passed out on our floor, drunk. Suddenly, he came to, turned his heavy-lidded eyes to the floor below him, and said, "This floor needs to be vacuumed."

A couple of weeks ago, Casey wrote a column about how sleep-deprived he is. I had no sympathy for him, however, because I know the reason he's sleep- deprived is that he stays up all night measuring the Venetian blinds in our living room with a level, trying to make sure they're perfectly parallel with the windowsill. What really worries me is when he starts talking about how "fire is the ultimate cleanser" and then gives me that look. Let's just say I keep my door locked at night. Locked, and coated with asbestos.

"Cleanliness is next to Godliness," Casey's column was titled. It should have been, "Cleanliness is my God." It's hard to see into Casey's room because of the constant fog of Febreeze that fills the air, but one time I swear I saw a shrine in there. And I swear the deity in the shrine was holding a mop. Now I know many of you are shocked to hear that a beloved Daily Free Press columnist can be such a psychopath, but the truly frightening part is that it can happen to any one of you. All you need to do is let cleanliness run your life and you run the risk of becoming another Casey.

On behalf of Casey and myself, we hope you enjoyed this experiment in column writing. Oh, by the way, you might want to wash your hands after handling my column. No worries. I'm sure Casey has some soap.