>>> Text-Heavy
By staff writer E.E. Southerby
Volume 71 – March 7, 2004

“More Fun Than a Highly Contagious Tropical Disease”

Now Playing: “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers Band

This week's column title is a delicious pun, if I do say so myself, and I just did, so there you go. In case you didn't get it, I rearranged the letters in the word ‘rings' to form the word ‘spring'. Then I added the word ‘cleanings' so it would kind of make sense. Now I know a lot of you curmudgeonly English teacher/librarian types have probably noticed that you actually can't rearrange the letters in ‘rings' to form ‘spring' unless you add a ‘p' as well. And since you've obviously caught me in my own tangled web of lies, I think I'll just curtail this introduction right here and start the column proper. Here's what happened:

-The day after “The Lord of the Rings: Part MCMXVII – Three and a Half More Hours of Agony” swept the Academy Awards, or “Oscar” ceremonies, the entire campus caught Ring Fever. There was hysteria in the streets, people were buying posable Gandolf dolls by the bucketload, it was a pretty scary scene. Then it turned out that this “Ring Fever” was actually a rare and very lethal strain of the influenza virus. Hundreds are dead. Luckily, every one of them was a Lord of the Rings fanatic so they really won't be missed very much at all. God, I hate that movie. I hate it so very, very much.

-Quote of the Moment: I went to the movies with one of my friends, which is something I don't do often because it requires me to leave the house and puts me in direct contact with sunlight, and as the previews started up my friend leans over to me and says: “This movie is so predictable. I can tell from the trailer exactly what's going to happen.” Am I the only one here who understands that this is EXACTLY the purpose of a movie trailer? To tell you what the movie's going to be like? What are you expecting? Scenes from an entirely different movie? Spinning red cubes and German techno music for 3 minutes? Although, in the case of the Lord of the Rings, this would actually be an improvement.

-Yes, you can tell from my sullen and vitriolic mood that springtime is just around the corner. I can see (not through a window, but rather through the Weather Channel from an underground, windowless steel bunker) that the sun is currently shining. And while I'd love to join you all outside and have picnics and play Frisbee or whatever the hell normal people do on sunny spring days, I'm stuck inside writing a column about the only thing in the world I hate more than that god-awful movie: Spring Cleaning.

-It kind of sucks cleaning out a college house, because you know you're going to be moving out in a month or two for a summer job. I keep getting the feeling that it's someone ELSE'S house I'm dusting, sweeping, mopping, etc., like back when I was seven years old. Except this time around old Mrs. Vanderhoof doesn't pay me with candy and I don't have to do it naked anymore.

-If there happens to be anyone who hasn't turned off their computers in disgust and begun writing angry emails to federal officials by now (although how you write an email with the computer off eludes me), then here's a joke about spring cleaning I think you'll really like: Q. How can you tell the difference between a toilet brush and my roommate's toothbrush? A. Well, you see where I'm going with this, folks. I'm not saying he DESERVED the bacteria infection. I'm just saying he did catch ‘Ring Fever'.

-One thing you learn from cleaning a house out is that people hate throwing stuff away. Even useless stuff, people always keep under the pretense that they'll “come in handy someday.” Everybody knows this is a full-out lie, but people just like keeping up the charade. If you don't believe me, just try throwing out a set of old car mats you found. Seriously, you'll see the owner of said car mats throw a tantrum bigger than Princess Diana's pre-crash nose. They'll be like “Hey, you. Get the hell away from my car” and chase you off their driveway with a rake as though you weren't trying to do them a favor. People are so selfish.

-Another funny thing about spring cleaning is that it inevitably leads to another aspect of suburban upper-middle-class hell: Garage Sales. Nothing completes my Sunday morning like a refreshing stroll down the block watching old men yell at college students out of the windows of their Mercedes that they won't pay more than 30 cents for that commemorative plate set, even though the price tag is 50 cents, because one of the edges is chipped. Goddamn you rich son of a bitch leave us poor people alone. And I always wonder where people always get this garbage to pawn off at a yard sale in the first place. Don't you people ever throw anything out? What the hell are these, car mats?

-It's a well-known fact in college circles that guys don't vacuum. We also hog the remote control and leave the toilet seat up, but that's a completely different hack stand-up routine. We just don't like to use the vacuum cleaner. It's very, um, how do I put this…homosexual. There is nothing more flamboyantly gay than running a vacuum cleaner along a carpet, except I suppose having sex with another man. There is nothing more manly than living in your own filth, dust and rabbit droppings. Also, the loud noise that Dirt Devil makes gives me the willies. (Getting the willies from loud noises is also very manly.)

-I don't think there's any place in the house that needs cleaning more than the computer. I'm not talking about the area around the computer, although that could probably also use a good scrubbing, you slob. Most people I know have stored in their Hotmail accounts emails they forwarded to themselves in the Mesozoic area (circa November 1999). My computer has folders upon folders of disorganized porn, gigabytes of video games I will never play nor understand like ‘Snood', and approximately 25 million old Word documents that nobody will ever read. I know I should just delete it all, as per the Spring Cleaning edict, but I just can't bring myself to do it. It's sort of a time capsule. Years from now, future generations will look back upon this cornucopia of information and probably blow their faces off with a shotgun when they realize that this was pretty much my whole life. (“What the hell is Snood?” These future generations will ask.)

-I'm going to take the space of this last joke to thank the people I've belittled over the span of this newsletter for being such good sports. And they are, in order of appearance: English teachers, librarians, J.R.R. Tolkien and his estate, Lord of the Rings fanatics, my friend Steve, vampires, people who make movie trailers, people who play Frisbee and have picnics, Mrs. Vanderhoof, pedophiles, people who are disgusted by pedophiles, my roommates, people who never throw anything out, Princess Diana and the Royal Family, that guy who's car I broke into, people who have garage sales, people who drive Mercedes, rich people, poor people, upper- middle-class people, hack comedians, gays, heterosexuals, guys who vacuum, guys who don't vacuum, the Dirt Devil corporation, the makers of the video game ‘Snood', and the future generations of America. You guys are the best.