"I get that sinking feeling…" wasn’t just a euphemism in my early twenties.
Rhonda was my best friend’s sister, a tall redhead in her mid twenties with a first-rate sense of home décor balanced with an untouchable sense of sheer slothfulness. Rhonda never cleaned - unless there was a party.
I always had a sinking feeling when I walked in the front door of our two-bedroom flat. Perhaps it was helped along by the blast of fetid air issuing from the kitchen, or perhaps it was seeing a five-day-old Taco Bell burrito, half eaten, on top of the television cabinet, right next to the extra large drinks container filled with fuzz capped soda. It certainly could have been from the reek of filth drifting like a biohazard cloud from her bedroom. Rhonda was lazy, ergo I spent as little time in our shared domicile as humanly possible.
“I get that sinking feeling that Rhonda hasn’t been busy” was a popular expression always applied to the kitchen sink. It was what we called a “Mexican standoff” in regard to “whose turn it was to do the dishes.”
I felt that it was unreasonable to demand that I do dishes when I did not contribute to the filth. I did not take my meals at home (I had the perpetual image of bacteria doing the two-step on every utensil and pan and could not muster up the nerve to actually eat anything in that house.) My school-job-job-sleep routine was such that I had perfectly sound reasons for spending up to a week away from home. Yet, if Rhonda determined that it was “my turn” for dishes, said dishes would sit in the sink until my return.
Rhonda was a slob, dear readers.
She was impeccable in dress, the proverbial poster child for the runway models of the world. She was extremely girly in her tastes. She was prone to going on a weeklong vacation with her boyfriend Greg whilst leaving a roast on the counter.
You read that right. The woman left town for a week and left the leftovers of supper sitting in a pan on the counter. Not a dirty pan - a roasting pan containing roughly 3 pounds of beef roast, replete with potatoes and carrots.
Rhonda would not think twice about leaving food out to rot. I actually used one of her forgotten beef and cheese sandwiches as a project for my biology paper – the stages of growth in the common housefly. I pinched my nose and cautiously approached the food (left upon the kitchen table) and snapped up a photograph every day. This went on for two weeks. I was able to successfully chart not only the stages of a housefly from egg to adulthood, but also study the rapid decay of lunch meat subjected to summer temperature over a course of time.
"Aut, why the hell didn’t you throw the damn sandwich away?" Dear Readers, did you miss my part about “Mexican standoff”?
Rhonda had a dog – a very sweet mutt in temperament who also lacked any training. Rodney Peabody Bodkins was a creature that tugged at my heartstrings. He was often left chained to a pine tree in the front yard during the summer. During winter, he was kept indoors (the traces of left over food were minimal during those periods thanks to his hearty craving for abandoned victuals and my text books.) Rodney was not housebroken however, and it was commonplace to see dog fudge on the carpets. The dog fudge would remain in place as miniature hotels for all those flies that had lost their homes thanks to his appetite. Rhonda would allow the shit to remain where it fell.
My room was my sanctuary. I kept my door tightly shut. It was pristine, dog-free and filled with dryer sheets and Japanese incense to counter the abysmal stench outside my door. Sadly, it was also off the kitchen, which meant that I would have to journey through the piles of pans and dishes in order to shower or leave the house. My partial solution was to leave the window unlocked. It faced onto a porch and entry and egress from the apartment was simply a matter of climbing through the portal. I can not recall a single shower taken in that apartment – I used my best friend’s bathroom in the apartment upstairs.
I think Rhonda got the hint when I came home one day in a disposable paper biohazard suit. How sad for her that I timed it to coincide with one of her parties. I removed the mask, smiled upon the gathered crowd munching on their finger foods and announced that I was glad that she finally cleaned the filthy kitchen as the bacteria cultures coating the countertops were making me rather ill.
We parted ways shortly afterward.