Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Only Child

Phew! After a four day cleaning marathon, I can breathe a short-lived sigh of relief. We are officially on the market, so now we just have to focus on keeping the house as clean as possible. That's no small task when you have a 2 year old that likes to pretend he is Cookie Monster, dump out his toy boxes, and "cook" with our tupperware and plastic utensils. . . tons of fun

Anyway, this blog post is NOT going to be about cleaning up after JJ, but I wanted to get a memory (however absurd) jotted down before I forget. It came to me when I was cleaning up some dishes today. I'm not sure what made me think of it, but I kinda laughed to myself just at the thought. Lissette, if you're out there, you will appreciate this one.

I have always thought that being an only child is kinda sad. I don't know too many only children, but I have a clear memory of one that went to Colgate with me. We'll call her Helga in the spirit of her equally German-sounding name.

I met her as a pre-season freshman, which just means that we were both on campus before most other students since we both had pre-season for 2 different fall sports. We lived right across the hall from each other and strangely, we were from the same hometown (which is well over 500 miles away from Colgate). We met but neither of us was really interested in getting to know the other, so that was the extent of our relationship for about a year.

By sophomore year, we were still living across the hall from each other just with different roommates. During the first two years that I knew Helga, I had learned she was eccentric, very cheap, quirky, not especially concerned with personal hygiene, frightenly promiscuous, and very outspoken. Her roommate and I were friends, so we had quite a bit of contact. Usually, I just had to hear the Helga stories from her, but every now and then I had the bad luck to witness them myself.

During my sophomore year, my roommate and I shared a bathroom with her and her roommate. The bathroom had 1 shower, 2 sinks, and 1 bathroom stall. We rarely had conflicts with showering schedules, so overall it was a pretty good setup. This particular incident started innocently enough as what looked like some clothes sitting up on a ledge facing the shower somewhat close to the ceiling. It was high enough that I could not see what exactly was on it but low enough that I knew it was some type of clothing. I didn't think anything of the clothes at first since 4 of us shared a shower. I just figured that someone had forgotten to take them out after their last shower.

Days passed and the clothes were still there only it looked like now there were more. I ignored it. The days became weeks and the pile of clothes was now crowding the ledge. I asked my friend Lissette, her roommate if she knew anything about them. She said, "Yeah, it's Helga's underwear." I asked what they were doing there. She responded, "I told her to get her dirty underwear off of there, but I don't know what she's doing." Our conversation pretty much ended there, and I'm sure I made some comment about how strange she was.

Another week or two passed, and I remember Lissette coming out to see me in the hallway and saying I had to come see what Helga was doing. I walked into the bathroom and there stood Helga with a large plastic tub full of cloudy water and her dirty underwear. She was holding a large pair of scissors in her hand and using them to stir her makeshift laundry tub.

I said, "What are you doing?".
She responded, "I'm washing my clothes."
I said, "Yeah, I know, but why there?"
She said, "I don't want to pay $3.00 for a load of laundry."

I know I laughed pretty heartily and probably made some additional comments about her being crazy, but I just ignored it after that.

Another week or 2 passed, and again, Lissette came to see me to tell me how Helga still hadn't finished her "laundry" and it was still sitting in the tub of murky water growing mold. Apparently, it had taken on a pretty nasty odor after sitting there for a few days, and Helga didn't know what to do about it. I'm pretty sure she spent those $3.00 to do her laundry, but I don't know if she ever got the odor out of her clothes.

I know not all only children are as strange as Helga, but I remember her very clearly since she is one of the few I have known. For some this story may be funny, for others probably just too much information, but for me, just another college memory (and a reminder of why I wanted to have more than 1 child). I have many, many more Helga stories only some of which are appropriate to share.

Last I heard, Helga was a member of our fine military working in something like weapons development or something I found equally frightening to be under her control. I am sure she is quite competent in her job, but I hope she spends some money now to do her laundry.

No comments: