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Lost in Suburbia classic column: A room with a view … of the laundry

Tracy Beckerman
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Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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It’s been about 30 years, give or take a decade, since I lived in a college apartment so I’d forgotten just how disgusting they can be. I’d forgotten about the abundance of hair on the bathroom floor that could make you wonder if the room was carpeted. I’d blocked out the memory of the takeout food in the fridge that was so old it had turned into an alien species with legs. And I’d erased the visual of dirty clothes piled up so high in the closets, on the bed and on the floor that you were amazed everyone wasn’t sitting around naked for lack of something clean to wear.

But it all came crashing back to me when I went to visit my son at school.

“You remember that bottle of Mr. Clean I bought you?” I asked my son when I peeked into his bathroom.

“Yes.”

“You do know he doesn’t personally come and clean your bathroom for you, right?” I commented.

He rolled his eyes.

I opened the refrigerator.

“Is someone here sick?” I wondered.

“No, why?”

“I see you’re growing penicillin in the refrigerator,” I remarked, removing a former food item that was now green and growing hair.

I did actually remember teaching him to make his bed, clean his room, do the dishes and basically live like a human being. However, sometime between high school and college, he seemed to have forgotten everything he learned and morphed into someone who could have his own reality show on TLC. Personally he was clean-shaven and well-dressed, and his two roommates all looked clean and put together, too. But their apartment was such a disaster site I was worried there might actually be a fourth roommate that was unaccounted for buried underneath the mess.

It was then that I noticed a large lump on the couch under a blanket. Maybe there really was another person here. Would they even know if that person was alive? Could my son and his friends be harboring a dead body under all this chaos? I had to know.

“What’s that?” I asked pointing to the lump on the couch.

“It’s a blanket,” responded my son.

“No. What’s UNDER the blanket?”

The three roommates all looked nervously at the lump on the couch.

“It’s nothing,” said one of my son’s friends.

Calmly I walked over to the couch, closed my eyes and whisked the blanket off the lump. I looked down and saw a pile of dirty pots and pans.

The guys all stared at me.

“Why are there dirty pots and pans on your couch?” I asked.

“There wasn’t room in the sink so we hid them,” said my son.

“Why? I wondered.

My son shrugged. “We didn’t want you to think we were slobs.”

You can follow Tracy on Twitter @TracyBeckerman and become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage.