He’s not exactly your type, but who is? He’s intriguing, for sure: former world champion power lifter (he’s got cinder blocks for thighs), speaks Japanese, has an impressive, professional job for someone his age. He takes time off work to volunteer in Haiti, donates money to every random cause, reads the New York Times. You rarely get to see him, since he’s a workaholic and a gym rat, but he designs elaborate destination dates, so you forgive his unavailability, his late night calls and his sporadic emails. He stays over on New Years but gets up at 4 a.m. to go to work. You make a resolution to be more understanding.
It’s hard to argue with his philanthropy and generosity, though sometimes you wish he was a little more run of the mill. You buy him a new briefcase for Christmas and in return, he donates money in your name to buy farm animals for a “third world family in need.” You were kinda hoping for some new earrings, or slippers.
He’s so busy, you notice he overlooks some basic stuff. Like his glasses. They’re old and falling apart and the lenses are scratched. Three days in a row he wears the same sweatshirt, and you think he slept in it, too. It’s starting to smell. You overhear him having an argument with his landlord; he forgot to pay his rent…several months in a row. It’s not because he doesn’t have the money. You know he has a dog since a couple of times he mentions that he should go home and let the dog out, before he falls asleep on your couch, still wearing his glasses and sweatshirt.
You try and help. You pack him a lunch and take it by his office. You remind him of his mother’s birthday and offer to wrap her gift. You make several trips to the post office and send his bills and you stock your fridge with Diet Pepsi so he can grab a couple on his way to work in the morning. One day, you mention that you’d be happy to go by and walk his dog for him. You have to to walk your dog anyway. Reluctantly, he gives you the key. You’ve never been to his house before. “Everything is a mess right now, “ he says, “I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to clean up.” “Don’t worry about it,” you say, “a little clutter never hurt anyone.”
It’s a dark bungalow at the end of the street. Deep set windows are closed to the daylight, hung with old yellowed dusty metal blinds. You push open the door and are met with a foul, acidic odor. Cat. The dog, an ill-proportioned mix of German shepherd and bassett hound launches at you while your eyes are still adjusting to the darkness of the front room. You lurch into the room, kneeing the dog in the chest, and stumble over a chenille area rug that’s wadded up in the middle of the floor. You can barely make out the couch, covered in bed sheets, one wooden armrest revealed, splintered and chewed. Silent, blinking cats (maybe 3?) eye you from an old La-Z-Boy that’s thick with cat hair and dirt. There are great balls of pet hair and dust bunnies dancing across the floor like ghosts; the frenzy of the dog jumping around is moving the stagnant air and blowing the stench of dust and disarray deep into your nostrils. There are piles of stuff everywhere, knee deep, waist deep, shoulder deep. Piles and piles of clothes, bedding, towels. Piles of books, records, CD’s, DVD’s. As you move through the room, you see into the “kitchen.” Piles of dishes, pots and pans, pizza boxes, Chinese take out containers. There are piles of boxes and plastic bags. A 30 lb. bag of cat food is lying in the middle of the room with the bottom torn out and the contents strewn across the floor. You go through the kitchen to where he’s told you the leash is kept and as you pass through the threshold of the laundry room you are met with an even more horrible smell.
In front of the washing machine, there is a giant overflowing litter box, cat shit everywhere, and 6 inches deep in front of the back door is a pile of dog poop. The dog continues to throw itself in desperation at your leg. You realize he hasn’t cleaned up after or taken care of these poor animals in weeks, maybe ever. Your heart sinks.
He’s a hoarder, a neglectful (if not abusive) pet owner and he’s living in complete and total squalor. Definitely not your type.