Confessions of a secret slob
Have you ever seen that episode of Friends where Ross dates Cheryl, played by Rebecca Romijn? Cheryl is stunning, she’s put-together, and she even laughs at Ross’ cheesy archaeology jokes. She seems perfect … until opens the door to her apartment.
Turns out, Cheryl is a secret slob. Her living room looks more like a closet, and by closet, I mean dump. She tosses trash right onto the layer of clothes piled on the floor and isn’t fazed that a family-sized bag of potato chips sits open on her coffee table. When she and Ross start making out, he finds a slice of bologna on her sofa. And the best part? Cheryl doesn’t even realize how messy her apartment is. Ross asks if they can move their date to his place and she confesses she thinks his apartment smells funny.
I know most Friends fans identify with Chandler and Monica’s relationship or the whole “we were on a break” debacle, but I relate to Cheryl — because I, too, am a secret slob.
Messes don’t bother me, so I make them constantly. I’ll be the first to admit, my slobbishness is rooted in lazy logic: Why put the clean clothes away when I’m just going to wear them? And why put dirty clothes in the hamper when I don’t mind stepping on them? This lazy logic also applies to dishes, bed-making, the toothpaste cap, my books, my makeup, and non-perishable food items.
To me, being messy saves time (well, hypothetically). My mind blocks out the unfolded shirts and yesterday’s crusty plate and focuses only on what I have to do right now. Total and complete tunnel vision. If I have work to do, then I immerse myself in work. If it’s time to sleep, I’m all about sleep. If I’m talking to a friend on the phone, I give her my whole attention, sometimes while sitting on a pile of freshly washed whites (ha ha just kidding, I don’t separate my clothes when I do laundry — that would take so much extra time).
Though my abundant clutter doesn’t bother me, I’m not totally lacking self-awareness like Cheryl. This might be because in high school my dad printed out a special certificate for “World’s Best Dump,” signed it as the mayor, and taped it to my door. The state of my room was one of the only things that my parents and I ever argued about, so I’ve seen that my dumpster-chic way of life can upset people. I try not to let my mess leak onto people I care about. In college, my roommate and I split our dorm room down the middle, and I made sure not one sock or granola bar wrapper ever crossed the line over to her side. The first time I showed my current boyfriend my apartment, I cleaned for two days beforehand.
But when I’m not worrying about anyone else and truly being myself, I’m a slob.
Sometimes, I look at Pinterest boards of gorgeous, thoughtfully decorated apartments with shiny hardwood floors and spices organized in mason jars, wishing that my brain worked that way. Don’t get me wrong; when I toss a piece of paper on my crowded desk, I know exactly where to find it five days later. I believe the term for my room’s layout is “organized chaos.” But there is something magical and together about a lovely, clean space. It’s an outward sign that the person who owns that room can prioritize and follow through and color-coordinate. The person who owns that Pinteresty room is the kind of person you want around during an emergency, someone who you can depend on to get everyone in a single file line.
Well, I’m not that person … on the outside. So what if sometimes I sleep with books under my pillows, and sometimes old coffee cups fall out of my car when you open the door? Mess does not reflect who I am. It does not define me!
In my opinion, Ross should have given Cheryl a chance. Maybe she left bologna in her sofa because she was too busy writing a novel to eat her sandwich in the kitchen. Maybe she doesn’t put her laundry away because she knows she’s just going to wear it tomorrow and she’d rather spend time learning Spanish. Ross should have appreciated that Cheryl was willing to show him her mess without apology.
Because, in a way, she was showing him herself, and that’s always a brave thing to do.