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The Column

Mr. Clean's Illegitimate Brother
1/9/05

There is a difference between being a neat person and a clean person. A neat person has orderly places for everything, and knows where all of their stuff belongs. A clean person has orderly places for everything, knows where all of their stuff belongs, and none of the places are covered in barbecue sauce.

I, am a neat person.

I didn't used to be a neat person, including in the manner of, "hey, look at that lanky kid with the pale skin! Neat, huh?" I grew up very messy - I left my stuff wherever it ended up, because that's where my stuff decided it wanted to live. You try telling a GI Joe he has to spend his nights in a shoebox with no air holes. He was much more comfortable between the cushions of my parents' couch. And really, who wouldn't be?

I was also not clean as a kid. I HATED doing dishes, especially cleaning the sink. I hated the smell of Comet (they didn't pay me to say that, either), and so I would do loads of dishes without ever washing the sink. I remember the day we got one of those spray nozzles on our faucet and I could just spray the sucker down. That was a good day.

As I got older, I realized the benefit of being neat: actually finding things. I got a planner in college, which begat a palm pilot which begat a desk organizer which begat a to-do list which begat the discovery of my low grade OCD. Don't give someone who methodically checks his watch every five minutes and can't go to sleep without answering his email a to-do list. Speaking of which, I ought to make sure that I shut off the water all the way.

I began being neat. I am more efficient, I am happier, and I haven't ever had to apologize for the way my apartment looks. I'm not perfectly neat, but for a 25-year-old comedian who lives alone, I keep the place tidy.

Clean is a different story. A story that I still haven't read. Mainly because I heard it's a really boring story, and makes your hands smell kind of funky. I messed up the analogy just then, but you still understand that I hate cleaning.

I wash the dishes before they pile up too high and I wash my clothes whenever I need to, but that's it. I know I should wipe down the counters when I cook. I know I should vacuum more or ever, and I know that no soap scum is good soap scum. But often I just don't bother. I know I should. I know it's a problem. But it's not one I'm willing to face quite yet.

I move often. OFTEN. I haven't lived in the same place for more than a year since 1994. When something got dirty it never mattered because I was moving anyway. But I like the apartment I have now, so today I got the desire to get it clean. Not to clean it myself, because that would be ridiculous.

I'm willing to work - I am a bit of a workaholic sometimes. (See OCD, symptoms of). But I am not willing to clean, ever. I will tidy up. I will not clean.

So the question became how to clean my apartment without cleaning. I tried checking my email and looking at my watch a whole bunch, but that didn't do much. So I thought of the obvious answer - get someone else to do it.

Since no one will ever do something like that for free, I looked up some cleaning services. I found one that looked good, but they were $160 dollars. And so, a new question arose - how to clean my apartment without cleaning or paying someone $160.

To help me answer it, I checked my email and shut off the water a few times. And then it hit me. I spent the last few hours promoting my book more in order to raise the extra money. That way I could work to clean my apartment without having to do any of the work I didn't like. Not to mention I was contributing to our economy by keeping money circulating.

Neat, huh?

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