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Captain Cleanowitz and the Effect of the Crazy Scale

Colin Conway

Three. Two. One. The seconds slowly ticked by as my mom walked toward it. AHHHHHHH! She screamed. Crash! Boom! Dang it! She had to open my closet!


My mom had told me to clean my room. She did not specify where to put the things, so you guessed it; I put everything in my closet and was done in 15 minutes. 


I'm going to have to clean my room for real now. This sucks!


Hi, my name is Willis Broemer. I am 13 years old and live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I don't like to admit it, but I am a short, portly kid at roughly 4'9" and 130 pounds. I love to wear backwards hats, t-shirts and cargo shorts. They're what suit me best and are quite comfortable. I live in a three, bedroom apartment with my mom and two sisters. We live in a nicer, still urban, area of the city, but it's not the Ritz Carlton by any means. I have my own room because I'm a boy and my sisters have to share a room. I like that a lot. 


We get along and we all have to help out because my mom works two jobs to support us after my dad skipped off with the waitress from the restaurant down the street. I'm kind of bitter about that, but I don't ever show it. I think mom still has problems with it, but she doesn't show it either. 


Mom works at a hair salon by day and a twenty-four hour dry cleaner by night. She has Wednesdays off of both jobs so this is when she starts to get into one of those moods. The cleaning mood is worse than any I've ever seen. My sisters and I, Laura who's 17 and Whitney who's 15, like to call her "Captain Cleanowitz" behind her back when this mood moves up on the crazy scale from nice to screaming and nit-picking about every speck of dirt anywhere! Sometimes I imagine her as a wild boar ready to attack when this happens. It makes me chuckle at a time when I need to a lot.


In simple terms, it gets bad. And when mom is mad, you don't mess with her. I love her a lot, and she's a truly a blessing to my sisters and I, but when these moods come up, it gets hard not to try to push her buttons.


I like to tell one story in particular, about mom, to people who don't believe my claims that she can be this way. Laura, Whitney and I were all pretty young, right around elementary school age, and I can remember us playing on the playground at the park down the street. We were playing to our hearts content and minding our own business when Captain Cleanowitz stormed over to the park proceeding to yell at us for 15 minutes about how filthy the sand box area was and that we needed to clean it at once. My sisters and I were forced to clean up all of the other kids' toys and neatly arrange them at the edge of the sandbox area before being forced to come into the house for the night. It was 3:30 in the afternoon…


I have to say that I understand that mom gets stressed out sometimes because of Laura's looming college tuition and such. She's going to Butler University in Indiana and she's super excited. I can tell mom doesn't want to let her down and that's why she expects so much from us.


" Willis Jerome Matthew Broemer! You will clean our whole room again, and you may not leave it until it is absolutely one hundred percent spotless!" 



Willis' manly, NOT a diary, journal 


What I am about to tell you is a story that you may not believe, but it was experienced by yours truly Willis Jerome Matthew Broemer. 


My mom left the room leaving a trail of wind behind her that had enough force to slam the door. I immediately went to work, fearing for my life at this point. I started by picking up all of the fifteen pairs of mismatched socks and shooting them into my clothes hamper across the room. I missed the first. I shot the second, a red one with white stripes, and I started feeling dizzy and spinning. I thought to myself that it must have been mom's meatloaf I had eaten for lunch. Ugh…I blacked out.


Ehhhhhhhhhhh! An unbelievably loud buzzer sounded. I opened my eyes and I was in the freaking Wachovia Center! Holy crap!!!!! I was totally and completely frozen with fear! This was a place I was familiar with. It's the home arena of the Philadelphia 76er's, my absolute favorite basketball team in the entire world. I looked down and I was in uniform and standing at the free throw line. 


This shook me. I was terrified as I looked around and saw the tens of thousands of people staring at me with wide eyes. I felt the pressure in my chest and nervousness overtook me. I looked up at the jumbo-tron and it read: 76er's – 90, Magic – 90. There were 0.05 second left on the clock. The whole city was looking on as I was standing there. I nodded to the referee, as I had seen my idols do many times in the past, and he bounced me the ball. I readied my shot and took it. It went up, up and bounced on the rim. Then rolled down through the net. I made it! The crowd went wild. I was the hero. That's when I started spinning. 


When I opened my eyes, I was in my room, the dirty socks still on the chair next to me, and one in the hamper. I can't explain to you what I was feeling at that moment, but I guess it was pure joy if you have ever felt that. I proceeded to set up every shot and make all of the next twenty-eight socks into the hamper. 


My mind flashed back to cleaning. A half an hour had gone by and all I had cleaned were fifteen pairs of socks. If there was one thing I knew about mom, it's that she would come check on me in a few minutes. I panicked and started to separate clothes frantically. Suddenly a dizzy sensation hit me again. "Freakin' meatloaf…" I said. Then, blacked out. 


When I awoke, I didn't open my eyes. I heard a hum of some kind, but I couldn't make out what it was. It was a machine that made a whirring sound every couple of seconds and then made a clattering sound. The second sound resembled that of when you drop marbles on the kitchen floor as a kid. It smelled wonderful in this area. Much like when mom makes fruit salad for our annual Fourth of July party. Fruity and yummy, mmmmmmm. 


I opened my eyes and I was greeted with an even more glorious sight. I was a worker at Jelly Belly Co. I was wearing a silver jumpsuit that said "Separator" on the right pectoral region of this oddly futuristic looking ensemble. I wondered why, but just shook it off and went back to the feeling of sheer delight I was having at the moment. These machines did not resemble those that I had seen on TV's, How It's Made. They looked exceedingly modern for 2008. I was pondering this when and I noticed that my body felt weird. I looked around and nearly blacked out again when I saw what had made me feel this way. I had eight arms! This was beyond weird. It was insane!!


The next thing I knew there was a wave of Jelly Bellies barreling toward me at an unknown speed. Then without any of my doing, my eight arms went to work. Each working separately, they grabbed their own color and put them onto a container. It took my arms two minutes to separate the seemingly endless wave of deliciousness. Near the end of the separating process I had started to feel dizzy again and by the end, I blacked out.


I awoke in my room. I was drenched in sweat and panting, as if I had just gone for a mile run (It is typical for me to sweat because I am not at all physically fit, but who needs it. I know I don't). To my surprise the seemingly endless pile of clothing bursting forth from the confines of my crammed closet was separated into piles of dirty and clean. 


This was a huge step in the cleaning of my "pig sty" as mom liked to call it. I began to put my clothes away, throwing the dirty ones into my hamper, and hanging the others on the array of mismatched hangers that I'd found hidden in the corner of my closet. Then, that feeling started again. Had I eaten too many futuristic Jelly Bellies?  It was actually getting kind of exciting to see what I was going to get into next. Boom! Black out.


This time I woke up in an apple orchard. This wasn't your normal apple orchard though. It had trees, it had dirt, but it lacked one very important detail in the apple orchard world: apples. They were nowhere to be found. I looked on the four trees surrounding me and there were little stems hanging from them, but no apples. Being the very serious apple connoisseur that I am, I was quite concerned at the sight of this. 


I rushed to find the proprietor of the orchard and I found him at the end of a Ford F-250, with a huge trailer on the end. He was filling a sizeable bushel with what looked like freshly picked apples in it. I started to salivate. I had not eaten since breakfast about 3 hours ago and I needed a snack. I walked over to the man and introduced myself. He told me his name, which I almost immediately forgot. I think it was Fred, or Bob. I don't remember. It felt weird to watch him perform the task he was out there to do. He was physically hanging apples on the apple trees. He told me that this is a secret of all apple growers. I guess apples don't actually grow on trees. They are grown in a special lab and transported to apple orchards for the pleasure of children and families to pick to their hearts' content. 


Grower Fred or Bob, hired me on and showed me the ways of the apple grower. He showed me that there is a specific way that one must hang an apple so that it looks its best. He taught me many more secrets of the trade, and I ate the now "freshly picked" apples until I felt the tension against the button on my favorite cargos and needed to loosen them. All of the work in the mid-day sun had sucked the energy right out of me and I fell asleep under an apple tree. Black out.


I woke up to the realization that all of my clothes were hanging neatly and in somewhat of an order. I was ecstatic. Why? I have no idea. You think a sane person would be scared out of their mind, but not me I guess. I then noticed that it had been an entire two hours since the last crazy adventure and that mom would probably be popping in soon to view my progress. 


I only had a few more remedial tasks to complete before my room was clean. I then organized my dresser, my shoes, my hats, my school stuff and a few other odds and ends. The last big task ahead of me was to take the box of garbage and old things that I no longer wanted down to the trash can outside of the apartment complex where we live. I didn't know how I was going to make it past Captain Cleanowitz at the height of the crazy scale, but I didn't need to, I started to feel dizzy again. Who knows what it was meatloaf, Jelly Bellies? I blacked out.


Before long I was Spiderman. I was on the top of an absolute monstrosity of a building overlooking the city of Philadelphia. I spider crawled all the way down the side of the building. No eyes fell upon me. I was a stealth machine and needed desperately to get this package I was holding to the nearest police station. It was almost a clean run until I had an encounter with my arch nemesis, The Roominator. He was a man who could create a blast of air that could knock the package from my hands and make my mission unsuccessful in a second. It was a life or death mission for welfare of the entire city and it was up to me. I webbed him in the face and proceeded to wrap him up until he could no longer move. I then stuck him to a flagpole and went on with my important mission. I completed it quickly and efficiently and saved the entire city from the certain disaster that would have surely brought them to their demise. I slipped back into my lair ever so quietly and fell asleep out of pure exhaustion from the life or death mission. 


I woke up violently, the door hitting me in the face. It hurt a lot. It was mom coming in to inspect my room-cleaning job. She was quite impressed with the organization and inventive ways I had sorted things. She did ask why my stuffed teddy bear was lashed up to my bedpost with a tie, but that was forgotten as she surveyed the rest of the room. She admired my persistence and non-combative attitude toward cleaning my room. I skipped down the stairs with a smile on my face and yelled back, "I'll do it anytime!" I was happy. I was off of the hit list of Captain Cleanowitz and very relieved to be there. I then lay down in front of the TV and had some of the best sleep I've ever had. Mom was proud, my room was clean, and all of my worries were washed away.