A bond forged by vacuuming

A Canadian, a Brit, a Hungarian and an Indian move into a house together. They all order afhaalchinees

If I weren’t allergic to conspiracy theories, I’d have said it was an anthropology experiment, at our expense of course, to compensate for the lack of grants at the sociology faculty. A priori an experiment doomed to fail, yet somehow turning up startling results. 

Out of the volatile ecosystem a unique lingo evolves. It’s a custom, meme-rich mishmash of internationalese, groans and deep sighing, perfectly suited for primitive house government. Soon we have a chief who brings home the toilet paper, and life settles into a smooth rhythm of everybody but one doing their chores. 

You’d expect it to be a constant clash of cultural tropes – a sort of multicultural Friends. And it is for a while, till you get off your phone and realise that there’s no plot, and that we’re not characters. For sanity’s sake we really have to make do with each other. 

It’s really possible for us all to just get along, with nothing to go on but the universal struggle against black mould and scabies

Then something bizarre happens. Whether driven by convenience, dishwashing-induced boredom, desperation or tropical disease, or more likely, some combination of those factors, you begin to form a bond. A bond that quickly takes on an almost familial quality, complete with sibling rivalries and all. You grow to cherish it, and eventually to miss it when someone moves on. 

As unlikely as such an outcome seems, I’ve seen it successfully replicated across the city with nearly every possible permutation of young alcoholics. Outliers, a.k.a. horror stories, are not unheard of, but usually resolve themselves by spontaneous dissolution and reconfiguration within the contingency period known as ‘the first year’.  

It just goes to show that it’s really possible for us all to just get along, with nothing to go on but our common humanity, and the universal struggle against black mould and scabies. Or perhaps it’s just a fleeting function of youth, naivety and global online culture – but I’ll take optimism about the future for now. 

They say that trust is the key to friendship. I now know of at least three witnesses that can testify that vacuuming comes pretty darn close. 


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