Joan of Arcadia
Spring Cleaning

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Deborah: B- | Grade It Now!
Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

Joan sits on the couch at home and flips around the TV. She comes across an infomercial for OxyGem hosted by Guess Who. "People get comfortable with mess. It starts to look normal to them. When you move it around, dust flies. It has to get worse before it gets better." Joan replies, "Great. And I'll bet it hurts you more than it hurts me." Salesman God continues, "The point is, Joan, don't stop cleaning. It's just a mess. All a mess needs is some attention, some effort…a little vision. Before you know it, you'll start to see daylight." Joan: "You know, technically speaking, it's not even my mess." Salesman God assures her, "We're all in this together. There's never been a stain that can't be removed." I rather doubt that. "All you have to do is roll up your sleeves…" She turns the TV off. Yeah, that'll work. She sighs to herself, "Oh, that feels good." The TV pops back on and Salesman God continues, "And start scrubbing…because the longer you ignore mess…the bigger it gets." Joan just stares, with her eyebrows bunched together in the middle of her forehead, and then the TV goes off again.

Some slackerish guy is showing Kevin and Lily a somewhat dingy, semi-squalid apartment. The walls are a sad yellowy colour, and in places…it looks like there are boils growing under the paint or something. The floor is covered in grey industrial carpeting. I think Kevin's wheels are going to be pretty hard on that. The apartment's not tiny, at least. It's depressing, but I've seen worse. However, if the place is truly wheelchair-accessible, and he can afford it, then it's probably a rare find, mold or no mold. The landlord guy is young and gangly and he tells them, "What I like is low-maintenance tenants, on account of I [sic] work on my poetry during the day." Lily wanders around: "Uh…has this place ever been cleaned? I mean, with real cleaning products?" Landlord Guy: "Whoa…I'm sensing hostility…" Lily wonders if there's any extra charge for the mold. Landlord Guy says, "Hey, look, if you're going to be high-maintenance…" In my book, expecting one's domicile not to contribute to infectious disease isn't exactly "high-maintenance." Lily reassures the guy: "I'm not living here." Kevin: "Yeah, but you're staying here; I want you to be comfortable." Lily looks stunned: "I'm…staying here?" Kevin: "What, you're not…staying here?" Lily: "You assumed…I'm going to be spending the night?" Landlord Guy: "Want to move on to the kitchen? Brand-new garbage disposal…" Kevin says hesitantly, "I thought that was kinda the point…" Lily makes a slightly strangled sound: "The…the point?" Boy, have you ever stepped in it. Landlord Guy wonders if they need some personal space. Actually, I think they need a communications coach, and possibly therapy, but since you're not qualified to provide either, Slackespeare, getting out of here is probably the most help you can give at this point. Lily's quite indignant now: "You assumed that this was about sex?" Landlord Guy decides to split. Kevin: "What was I supposed to think?" He seems genuinely confused. Lily: "Uh…try anything -- anything else…uh, a grown-up move, or a rite of passage…I mean, anything but a nookie palace!" Man. "Nookie"? I thought Lily entered the convent around 1994, not 1974. Maybe she's a lot older than she looks. Maybe celibacy keeps you youthful. I hope I never find out. Kevin: "Point of adulthood: people don't actually say 'nookie palace.'" Hee. Burn. Lily's pretty angry: "Point of respect…this is a huge and humiliating assumption on your part. It never occurred to you that this subject might be a little difficult for me…that we should have a serious talk about it because…it's something that I haven't confronted before?" She's on the verge of tears. Kevin is taken aback and doesn't know what to say. Lily runs out. He sits there for a moment, eventually kind of slapping his face over his gaffe.

Now, I've wondered before if Lily's a virgin, and I think she probably is, although some people have suggested that her concern here is the issue of premarital sex. It's possible, but I don't think so, because she's previously made reference to drinking enough on a date to ""help her through" it (though admittedly, she could have meant something else by that). Other people have suggested that given her wild youth, she probably wasn't a virgin before she entered the convent, but I don't think that necessarily follows. She might have been into substance (ab)use, tattoos, crime, surfing, whatever, but it doesn't mean she necessarily had sex. Another possibility is she did have sex before entering the convent, but hasn't since leaving, meaning it's been well over a decade since, and the "something" that she hasn't confronted before is simply the prospect of having sex again (giving up her born-again virginity). But I think I'm voting for lifelong virgin. In any event, it's looking less and less like Kevin will ever find out. I think they're both at fault here: I do think she sent kind of mixed signals at her apartment, suggesting he move out right after he asked about what he had to do to get her alone and away from her agoraphobic roommate, and telling him living with his parents isn't sexy. She does at least play like she's worldly enough to have grasped the implications. On the other hand, Kevin really could stand to be a little more sensitive to her situation, to say nothing of becoming more sensitive to women in general. He does tend toward the crude. On the third hand, she could have been a little more sensitive to the complexities of his situation as a paraplegic, although I think part of his attraction to her is that she doesn't have the same uptight reaction to it that so many other people (e.g. Beth) do -- recall how blithe she was about how he could potentially go surfing, and how intriguing he seemed to find that. Basically, they both need to assume less, talk more, and be more sensitive. They're so much alike it's not funny. If they could both get over themselves they'd be the perfect couple.

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Joan of Arcadia




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