With only five weeks left until the end of my lease, my five roommates and I have entered into a depraved Iron Man contest to see who can stand the filth of our own house.

Two years of bitching and moaning and cleaning up everything before another house-thrashing keg party were all for naught. We’ve given up. We’re letting entropy run its course. We’re in symbiosis with the black ants that live off the food on the dishes we’re too lazy to clean.

It’s not like we meant to live like this. We all have loving moms who made us do dishes and wash windows and we all know what a clean house looks like. We know what it takes to achieve one. But despite immaculate upbringings, we choose the life of the man-beast – wading through empty beer bottles and kitchen gnats.

It’s too bad you can’t get a doctorate in College Filth – we six malnourished man-beasts have survived in a mom-free habitat full of deadly poisons and infectious food for almost two years. Each day presents a new specimen of absolute filth that dwarfs the previous day’s encounter with nausea.

For example, I’ve learned that man-beasts are prone to certain games of filth. One is called, “How High Can I Stack the Decaying Pile of Bathroom Refuse Before Someone Throws It Out or Vomits?” Points are awarded for age of encrusted condoms, floss and booger tissue. Double points are given for puking while taking out the trash. My fellow man-beasts also like to play this game in the kitchen with old milk cartons and DiGiorno’s pizza boxes.

As man-beasts, we are avid fungus gardeners. No bread or vegetable item is deemed removable from the refrigerator until fungi have formed elaborate fungal societies with artisans and space exploration technology. Then and only then – with the loaf of bread completely terra-formed green and reeking of Chris Farley’s corpse – is it allowed to enter the “How High Can I Stack the Trash” contest.

On several occasions we have picked up a little out of respect for visiting company, girlfriends or family. But as soon as they leave, the gross-a-thon commences once again.

I think part of the man-beast filth problem is the absence of a Dominant Male. Unless the man-beast’s roommate is an ultimate fighting champion with a Windex neurosis, most man-beasts aren’t afraid of angering housemates, who are often just as dirty. As such, we live in a kind of Mutually Assured Filth, based on each other’s knowledge of how dirty the others are. No one has any clean moral ground to stand on when they say, “Goddamm it, this place is a sty” and hence the sty stays.

A sufficient replacement for the Dominant Male could be a Nagging Den Mother – someone who the man-beast cannot physically assault, but instead must endure the nagging of until the necessary cleaning is made. In our condo we lack either a Dominant Male or a Nagging Den Mother and none of us have the energy or masochism to assume one of those positions.

There is a clean, white linoleum bottom to this beer-stained column though. Three of us man-beasts soon depart to live with two women on Pasado Road. Not that women are automatically cleaner; any landlord will tell you a house full of all women is just as dirty, if not dirtier, than a house of all men.

The goal is a platonic compromise of man-beasts and woman-beasts that keep each other clean out of sheer guilt. In theory, the men will be cleaner due to leftover Mom Nagging Guilt and the females will be cleaner out of societal mores about being clean in front of men. Barring any rogue sexual complications, this new coed guilt-driven house could be semi-habitable.

Observing the households of young adults and older ones, I sometimes wonder if there’s a definitive day when a man-beast wakes up and decides it’s no longer proper to hunt for silverware in the couch cushions or keep half-full beer bottles rotting on the tables. I smell the mini-lagoon of spaghetti and booze stagnating in my kitchen sink, and pray for that day.

Man-beast David Downs still checks his cupboards for food he thinks his mom has purchased in his absence. His columns usually appear Wednesday.