2006.03.22 Sprung cleaning

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

I used to think that the apartment above the Observer was too dark. I used to think there weren’t enough windows, that there were just too many shadows.

About a week ago, I stepped in one of these shadows and left a footprint. I realized then that the problem with the apartment upstairs was not one of lighting, but of me being a filthy slob. What I had taken to be a shadow was actually 10 months worth of dark and disgusting grimy buildup.

If you remember, last Wednesday was a nice, sunny day. A springy day. And I thought, “what better thing to do on my lunch break than to go after some of that mess?” Obvious answers now spring to mind: exercise, give to charity, swallow drain cleaner, but at the time I was feeling energetic and proactive, so I rolled up my sleeves, pulled out all the noxious solvents that I don’t reserve for chugging, and went to work. It turns out that what I had thought were permanent scuff marks on the kitchen floor were actually dirt; what I thought was dirt was actually some primordial form of life; what I thought was the dull, gray tint of the bathtub was actually a rock-hard plying of soap scum.

Soap scum.

I’d always wondered how scum got such a bad reputation. Now I know.

If we were to compare filth to criminals (a far stretch), and homes to jail, your garden variety dirt would be the equivalent of the wrongfully accused. Dirt has its place—outside. The only way dirt makes its way inside is by way of some thoughtless human leaving a door open or forgetting to take his shoes off. Dirt knows it shouldn’t be inside, dirt doesn’t want to be inside, and that’s why dirt is so easy to clean up. A stroke of the broom, a wave of the washrag, and dirt is out of the way, in the trash, headed to that great big dump in the sky...er...ground. It ain’t coming back.

Dust is what I would call a public nuisance. Dust is a repeat offender. No matter the steps you take to limit recidivism, dust always finds some way to make it back in the slammer. Dust also keeps the executive branch occupied; it clings to brooms, it clogs vacuum motors, it corks drains. That is, it limits the effectiveness of those things created to eliminate it. Nevertheless, dust will come, take its slap on the wrist, and show up next week—stinking, drunk, and ready for booking.

Scum is a death row inmate. Scum is akin to the murderer, the rapist. You don’t want to know how it got there, but you do know there ain’t no way to get rid of it unless you burn it off the face of the Earth.

And that’s exactly what I did to the soap scum I encountered last week. After scrubbing at it with paper towel for about 20 minutes, to little avail, I looked under the bathroom sink, hoping one of the previous residents had left behind some weapon to deal with it. Luckily they did. It was a spray bottle, dated to the Reagan administration, I believe, filled with a substance called “ScumBatterer” or “ElimiScum” or something like that.

I read the directions. “Apply liberally to areas with high scum buildup. No scrubbing required.”

“‘Liberally?’ What does that even mean? Apply like Michael Moore would?” I thought.

After due diligence, I coated the entire tub with whatever was left in the bottle.

Soon after, I realized I was hallucinating from the fumes, so I opened the back windows and turned both of my fans on.

The apartment’s cleanness may have come at the expense of my own. I’ve known cleaning solvents to sizzle and pop, but never like ScumBatter. I think I could actually hear the scum screaming for mercy a few seconds after the concoction hit. The screams were followed by whimpering, and one last agonized groan, which I could only assume to be its death nell. I’m not quite sure I want to put my feet in that kind of environment.

On a side note—Congratulations to my brother John and my new sister-in-law Stefanie, who were married Saturday. The wedding went better than I anticipated—only two fights, one case of food poisoning, and five incidents of accidental swearing during my best man toast.

A couple black eyes, barfing, loud obscenity—that’s pretty much to be expected from a Pickell family gathering.

I did, however, fail to actually raise my champagne glass during the toast. I forgot to bring it with me when I went to the microphone.

– March 22, 2006 
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

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