Originally posted January 11, 2010...
The screen of my laptop is dusty. Jon’s makeshift ashtray (a small glass with flowers on it) is overflowing with butts. A penny, a pair of scissors, and a bottle cap take up the rest of my coffee table. My Snuggie is bunched up to my right, and clothes that didn’t properly dry in the machine today are laying on the backs of the futon and chairs and hanging off the door ways and shower curtain rod. But my apartment is reasonably clean. Comparitively. But it could be cleaner. I could be cleaner. It is my new dream.
Dream: To live cleanly.
Plan: Any plan made would be made in vain as plan is unachievable.
When I pictured my life as a Big City James, my surroundings were immaculate. The furniture was sleek and modern, the floors bare and spotless, the bedsheets tighter then the skin on my clean, supple neck. None of this has come to fruition. It’s not for lack of trying, really, I could just never possibly try hard enough. The reason that cleanliness as a Dream is unachievable is because it would be all consuming, and impossible. Just like one can never be too rich or too thin, you can never be too clean.
I spent this past New Year’s Eve in the gorgeous downtown apartment of strangers. Jon was out of town and I was all by myself settling down with some chicken when my friend David was kind enough to invite me out with him and his boyfriend. I got down there about ten thirty with the party in full swing. The apartment was a high rise, and absolutely gorgeous. Big windows, huge patio, full open bar on a high glass table. The party was littered with Powergays, the cleanest people on earth. Powergays are rare and elusive creatures, but they tend to travel in packs. They have v-shaped upper bodies, asses that look perfect in every jean, no body fat, and a flighty, faux-friendliness that seems to scream alternately, “Where’s the party!” and “You’re not invited!” Anyway, the guests and this party were my big city dream realized. They affected the perfectly disaffected posture of the aloof party guest; the one where when I try it, it makes me look like I have cerebral palsy. Their cheekbones were sharper than the ice cubes in their classy drinks. They discussed current events without being controversial, told jokes without being offensive, and did the right thing, always. I sat on the ottoman holding my stomach in, trying to look like I was waiting for a bus to an even cooler party. And I started to believe I could live like this. I could lose the gut fat and gain the muscle. I could not just swiffer, but wax my floors to an unbelievable sheen. I could cut the bird’s nest on my head and banish sweatpants to my brand new yoga class. I could stop leaving dishes in the sink and not make stupid jokes in lieu of an actual conversation. My vices wouldn’t be salt and cheap vodka coolers, but something classy like cocaine where a fine powder disappears off of a pane of glass after being cut up by a credit card. Does that scream wealth and power or what?
I excused myself to their immaculate bathroom, all shiny counter tops and Italian Vogue’s and fancy soaps. Then a Powergay walked in as I was, shall we say, midstream. He didn’t apologize, or even really acknowledge me, except to give me a drunken once-over. After zipping up, I forcefully slammed myself against the door to close it and get him out, which is sort of funny, if you think about it. You can watch me finish peeing, but I’ll be damned if I have company while washing my hands.
At some point, we counted down, and David and his boyfriend kissed me and wished me well. Soon after, I found my coat in the designer pile on the designer sheets, and headed onto the subway, which was free from midnight to four on New Year’s Eve and, as such, was filled with drunks. It was standing room only and smelled like sweat and puke. Girls in cleavage-baring tops struggled to cover themselves while tall drunks openly stared. When the train made quick stops at the stations, open Nalgene bottles filled with warm liquor spilled everywhere. Out in the street, people were yelling out of car windows, or screaming as they staggered down the street. It’s interesting how the sentiment behind “Happy New Year” seems angry that way, like a threat.
I think perhaps we’re always dirtier than the version of ourselves we project to other people, and cleaner than the way we secretly think about ourselves, when it’s late and the party’s over. So maybe the goal is not to be clean, but just to be honest.