My suitemates and I like to play a game called How Long Will It Sit There? The rules of this game are as follows:
1. Player 1 places a sticky, wet and/or perishable (bonus points for all three) object in our common room.
2. Through laziness, apathy or spite, Players 2-6 resist the urge to throw away said object.
3. The object festers.
There are three paths to victory:
1. Player 1 cracks, disgusted at himself, and shamefully removes his trash from our communal living area. He loses, the other players win.
2. Player X cracks, disgusted at Player 1, and bitterly removes his trash from our communal living area. Player X loses, Player 1 wins.
3. No one does anything. The object wins, we all lose.
Usually I say that after four weeks the game is over, and the object can be declared the victor. But this is really just me trying to avoid always being Player X. Still, there are some objects that have proven themselves true champions: Mary, the giant orange traffic drum who until recently was covered in dried blood and mardi gras beads; Skinny, the lone thin mint above the fireplace whose 8-month incorruptibility makes me worry about how much I love thin mints; and a vast and shadowy collection of pizza boxes, newspapers, and other crap that I call the Crap.
The current contender in How Long Will It Sit There? is a half-full gallon of Garelick Farms milk. The secret to its success lies in its usefulness. One day, someone awoke in the middle of the night to go pee and left behind his keys and needed to prop the door open with something and (Eureka!) there was a half-full gallon of milk sitting on the floor, just waiting to be used as doorstop. And now, during the day, instead of going through the arduous motions of fumbling with keys (they make your fingers smell bad!), we all just leave the door propped open with the half-full gallon of milk and save ourselves a lot of time and worry.
It’s growing, the half-full gallon of milk. Whatever’s inside of it that survived pasteurization is multiplying, and as it breeds it’s giving off some kind of gas, so that the plastic container has become distended and bloated, like an overripe melon. I know that someday it will burst, and the putrescence inside will drench poor Mary in awfulness and coat our entire common room in milky slime. And yet I have not thrown it away. It really is useful as a doorstop, and there are just so many other things to think about.
Not that I haven’t tried, in the past, to bring an end to How Long Will It Sit There? (and also to its cousins, What Is That Smell? and Pants, You Have Been Stop-Lossed!) At the end of Spring Break, I had an open day or so, and I decided to put Mary out on the street, eat Skinny (maybe I would gain his remarkable preservative powers) and clean up the Crap. I put on my special Dixie Chicks cleaning mix, found a box of Swiffer WetJet thingies and got to work.
The first thing I did was to get the dried blood off Mary. I view this as an accomplishment. I have to say that Swiffer WetJets are really great at getting dried blood off of stuff.
Then things got ugly. I dove into the Crap, ready to throw away whatever I came up with. When I surfaced, I was holding a blue Tupperware container. I guiltily realized I was its Player 1.
Apparently, sometime in the fall semester my mother sent me a thing of cookies. I am certain that, upon their arrival, the cookies were delicious and full of savory goodness. Over time, however, this deliciousness faded away and was replaced by something far more impressive but much less appetizing: intelligence. When I cracked the lid on the Tupperware, I was immediately able to not only smell its contents but also hear them. From the cadence of the whispers and an occasional strident shout, I was able to determine that there was a debate going on. After many months in the humid interior of the Tupperware, my mother’s cookies were developing their own political systems.
This frightened me, but it also steeled my resolve. I threw the abomination into my trash bag and set about dismantling the tower of pizza boxes to my right. The Crap could not escape my will!
Then my cell phone rang. Someone was having a party somewhere. There would be drinks and people. How Long Will It Sit There?
Steven Kochevar is remarkably productive between 2 and 4 a.m.