Hoarders, an Ode to Cleaning

We watched Hoarders for the first time last night, and never have I felt a stronger urge to clean. I don’t think Sean has either, because he got so antsy during the 44 minute episode that the moment it was over he shot up and raced downstairs to start scrubbing overlooked corners and throwing things out. Unfortunately we were at his apartment, so it bore the wrath of A&E induced OCD and my little house is still (comparatively) filthy. I think I’ll be watching Hoarders at home just to inspire me to break out the old toothbrush and start scrubbing oft neglected nooks and crannies in every room.

When I was house hunting a little over five years ago, we came across a house like these. Initially it seemed no different than the other houses we’d been looking at. However the first detail we noticed was a foreboding omen: a thin, soaked through paper plate underneath runny, canned spaghetti sitting out on the front step in the rain. Just, abandoned there, being mildly disturbing. We side-eyed it warily and followed my realtor up the steps.

When the door opened and we stepped in, our eyes took a while to adjust to the darkness. The only light came from a giant television at one end of the living room and there were things (magazines? newspapers? bodies?) piled up waist high everywhere. Our feet were standing in the narrow path that had been cleared through the indistinguishable rubble, and in the dark were small dogs/creatures/things scurrying about. Two large women sat in front of the behemoth television and squinted at us intruding upon their hovel. Our sense of politeness persevered, and despite initial impression and the vague horror stirring up within our guts, we continued through the house.

My dad, eternally optimistic and sometimes a little too daring, opened an adjacent door and was startled to find a wire-thin, strung out, topless and clearly unwashed man sitting on a twin sized mattress in a closet-like room. Dad apologized and the guy kind of waved it off and returned to his… sitting. Arms close at our sides, we continued on to the kitchen. The small rodent dogs of the shadows were yapping and I was trying not to step on or trip over them lest they make me touch anything. One of the couch creatures hollered at them to shut the hell up.

In the kitchen there was a little more available floor space, but every single square inch of the counters and dining table were covered in filth. Dirty pans, dishes, old food containers, mold, mildew, flies… it was horrendous. At this point I was dying to get out of there, afraid the junkie from the adjacent room was going to come out with a rusty shovel and conk us over the heads at any minute. I refused to touch anything. My lovely, kind realtor tried to remain professional, but you could tell that even with his years of experience in a rural town he was recoiling ever so slightly. Dad once again decided to do the unthinkable and GO INTO THE BASEMENT.

The basement! Like nothing bad could be in there! Thank god I hadn’t seen the movie The Descent yet, otherwise I’d run out screaming.

We decided to not return the way we came and instead took the nearest exit toward the backyard while we waited for dad to (hopefully) return from the depths of rained-on-canned-spaghetti-on-the-outside, Hoarders-among-us on the inside, creepshow house. When he came out he said that there wasn’t anything in the basement except a dirt floor… and a bare mattress on it that clearly had been used recently.

With that note we bushwhacked our way around the outside of the house, desperate to return to the safety of our cars and never look back.

I don’t know how it happened, but someone eventually bought that house and fixed it up, and today it looks quite nice… from the outside. The inside? Well… I’ll keep an eye on Hoarders.


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