I have just spent the last three hours following my roommate around as she cleaned her bathroom with some very intense chemicals, used every one of the twenty-five attachments on her vacuum, and attacked the furniture on our outdoor deck with a Magic Eraser. It was inspiring I must say -- so much so that I swept my bathroom floor (I am evidently not nearly "German" enough to have the clean gene).
Why would she spend the better part of a Wednesday night doing these chores? Well, besides the fact that all the good TV shows start at 10 pm (after our bedtime), her parents are coming into town tomorrow. This 25-year-old still cares enough to put her best foot forward for her parents and not only is she insuring a quality three day trip to the QC, she is making our apartment the Ritz-Carlton of the University Area; complete with a bowl of fruit for snacking, a display of homemade chocolate brownies made from Jacques Torres' very own recipe, made-from-scratch crab cakes ready to be cooked, and a welcome gift wrapped and ready for their arrival. It makes me wish I wasn't her roommate so I could be privy to this treatment. The novelty of my residency in the apartment wore off in about ten seconds . . . and now I've added a giant orange cat to the mix (Dear Lord, please don't let Newt ruin the freshly steamed drapes.).
But, in the meantime, I'll be sure to try to absorb some of her enthusiasm for a clean space. And, to complete the picture, the 50% Italian side comes out often as well. She makes an amazingly delicious tomato sauce (she would give me the recipe but then she would have to make me walk down the Plaza at 3 am by myself) and is the first to invite me out for a night on the town with her friends. I'd say she's got the best of both Axis powers. Luckily, I get to reap the benefits of a clean apartment and a constant buddy whose idea of "hanging out with friends" is always inclusive and never exclusive -- a good counterpart to us French who prefer to sit in the corner of a restaurant (or den) watching people (or TV) drinking coffee (or Diet Coke) by oneself (with Newt-the-cat).