French Fry Friday: Spring cleaning

Cleaning out the cobwebs and dusting off the patio furniture, wherever you go it seems like everyone is in spring cleaning mode.

I’m the type of person that can clean till the cows come home. As a perfectionist, I’m cursed with the inability to only clean half-way. I will spend all day cleaning out one closet or organizing one drawer in order to get it “just right.”

When I survey a sparkling clean bathroom or a fully organized pencil drawer, it is as close to Pine-Sol heaven as I will ever get.

Every spring cleaning I’m reminded of the most grueling spring cleanings I’ve ever endured: college dorm cleaning.

Before we could leave the campus and go home for the summer, we had to scrub-a-dub-dub every single inch of our dorms. Freshman year was the worst. Or was it sophomore year? All I remember is the frustration of cleaning things like the blinds, which had to be spotless, with toothbrushes and Mr. Clean’s Magic Erasers. RA’s and RD’s monitored the hallways carrying toilet brush-wands, double checking to make sure no one had accidentally mixed various cleaning sprays and chemicals thus resulting in kids passing out in tile-cleaned bathtubs. And all of us phoned home to our moms inquiring on the fastest, easiest way to clean an oven that had only been used to make frozen pizzas.

But of all my spring cleaning memories from college, junior year was the best of times and the worst of times.

I’d lived off-campus that year in an apartment with four other girls. Despite barely being in the apartment spring semester (due to tonsillitis which kept me out of school and away from every single person besides my doctor), when it came time to move-out during finals week, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. With final schedules and cleaning schedules posted in the kitchen, my roommates and I took turns first moving large furniture items out of the apartment and then cleaning everything in sight.

Let’s just say the previous tenants had not exactly followed the apartment’s cleaning check-list. How thrilling for us to frantically clean our mess and their mess all while attempting to ace finals.

The things that happened during that one spring cleaning:

  • Breaking a glass light fixture in the hallway – we took it down to wash it and when we put it back up, it cracked and broke.
  • Opening a random vent, hidden behind the vertical blinds in the living room by the sliding glass door and finding more dust than our vacuum could handle.
  • Trying to remember who brought the can-opener or the strainer, so we could pack up.
  • Laughing when one girl would start cleaning and we’d hear her screaming over something nasty she had to wipe, scrub, or vacuum.
  • Taking down picture frames, our make-shift fire-place mantel, and shelves – adding up the fees and fines from nail holes in the walls.
  • Continually commenting on how many clothes we had to haul home.

But the cleaning memory I will never forget is the day that I cleaned the apartment all alone.

I’d just aced a final and decided to buzz back to the apartment to clean. My roommates were no where in sight, most likely sitting in finals, or on their way home for the summer.

Still on the list to clean: the sliding glass doors and screens. I threw on some “grunge” clothes, pulled my hair back, and got to work. The living room door was the nastiest. There was dirt, leaves, bugs, and just over-all filth from our months of opening and closing the screen door. And let’s not forget that during a blizzard, my roommates and I opened the screen door so we could watch the snow fall. Quite brilliant.

There I was. All alone in the apartment. Up to my arm pits in dirt and suds, in desperate need of a shower, just not in our showers because they had already been fully cleaned.

Deeming the apartment as clean, as clean as I could get it, I left a note for whichever roommate came in after me to clean, grabbed my keys, a garbage bag full of garbage, and locked up. Walking down the hallway, I debated whether to take the stairs or the elevator. Since I was tired, I opted for the lift. As I was rounding the corner, I heard some people talking. No biggie, I thought, and continued toward the single elevator, located in the center of the apartment complex.

Garbage in hand, smelling like a mix of sweat, dirt, and cleaning products, I looked toward the elevator in horror. For there, before my very eyes, was the apartment manager (or whatever she was) and some other middle-aged woman dressed in a business suit (the Realtor?), and quite possibly the cutest 20-something guy I’d ever seen.

Avoiding eye contact, I booked it to the elevator and hit the “down” arrow. Unfortunately, the cutest 20-something guy I’d ever seen was just getting to the part of his apartment tour where they showed him the underground garage so he could take a gander at the dumpster, car wash, and parking spaces.

Standing in the elevator with the apartment manager, Realtor, and the cutest 20-something guy I’d ever seen, eyes fixed straight ahead, I white-knuckled my garbage bag and tried to imagine myself anywhere but there. Except I was there. And the whole three floors down to the garage, I noticed out of the corner of my left eye that the cutest 20-something guy I’d ever seen was staring at me. And smiling.


The day I dress like a dirty child, smell like a pig, and forget to put  Chapstick on, I am stuck in an elevator with the cutest 20-something guy I’ve ever seen who just happens to be apartment searching at the apartments I’m moving out of.

When the doors finally opened, I ran out of the elevator and threw my trash in the dumpster. But to my shock and dismay, I had parked in the above-ground parking lot, thus humiliating myself even further by running back into the elevator while the cutest 20-something guy I’d ever seen proceeded to check-out the parking garage.

By the time I got into my car, I was almost laughing the whole thing off. And then. Like the safe driver I am, I turned to put my seat belt on, and saw what is now burned into my memory for life.

A dead, squished up bug.

There. On the left sleeve of my old t-shirt.

And I knew.

I knew that that was what the cutest 20-something guy I’d ever seen was smiling at in the elevator.

For that was the sleeve, the shoulder, that he had a clear shot of all the way down to the garage.

I remember screaming, almost crying, and possibly laughing.

After removing the dead bug, which had probably ended up on my shirt  thanks to my screen-door cleaning, I called one of my roommates and told her the whole story. Her laughs and “NO WAY!” rang through loud and clear on that beautiful spring cleaning day.

While I don’t wish you the humiliation I suffered in that spring cleaning episode, I do wish you a very happy spring cleaning French Fry Friday day!


I ask. You answer.

  1. Worst spring cleaning moment?
  2. Was your college dorm RA lenient or strict when it came to your dorm’s cleanliness?
  3. Best part of spring cleaning?

4 thoughts on “French Fry Friday: Spring cleaning

  1. Oh … I feel for you …

    I have a confession to make – I am a perfectionist as well! I have a cleaning or organizing issue as well … my husband LOVES to be away from the home when I am in a mood. I will take everything out of a closet, drawer, etc…whatever inspired me to do something and it is PERFECT after I am done.

    You have it bad when it came to end of year dorm cleaning – mine wasn’t that or as bad as yours was. Good thing I didn’t go to your college! But at the same time, it probably instilled your cleaning habits you have today from those scarred years!

    Best part of spring cleaning is purging! Nothing like cleaning out a thing (dresser, drawer, closet, boxes, etc.) and going through things – memories, items to throw out … I loved using the CLEAN SWEEP (TLC tv show) method – keep, donate, or toss. I love how JR (my daughter) wants to donate many of her ‘old’ toys to little kids.

    • Yay a fellow perfectionist! That’s awesome! Yeah, there’s something very rewarding about cleaning and organizing! True, I probably did learn a lot of my perfectionist cleaning methods from grueling dorm room cleanings. Yikes.

      I love throwing things away/donating! I feel like I’m always looking for things to donate! That’s so great that JR wants to donate toys to other kids – great to start that mentality at a young age!! It definitely carries through to adulthood!

  2. HAHAH! I remember hearing this story!! I havent had any real terribly funny stories like you have because of the messes that I have made, but giong through old memories is probably the best part of it!

    • Yeah. It’s definitely one of those “that would happen to me” stories. Of all things. Man.

      Going through old memories side tracks me ALL the time! I come across old letters or pictures and suddenly five hours have passed and all I’ve done is sit on the floor surrounded by a complete mess!!

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