Friday, November 28, 2008

Clean It Like You Mean It

Think - Hey! I'm talking to you, here - think about how much more orderly your life would be if you were the kind of person who thought, as your eyes swept the kitchen (oh and as a corollary, this would also not be the only sweeping your kitchen ever received), "Hey. That faucet could be shinier!"

You aren't, are you? That's okay, I'm not either. My mother-in-law is. She cleans reflexively, like coughing. She's just sort of in the kitchen or the living room and she's talking or watching TV and her body is moving of its own volition and everything is getting clean, or cleaner, I should say, because it never actually was dirty to begin with. She raised seven children that way. Those genes turned out to be recessive.

I'm not like that either, unfortunately, because I have my mother's extremly untidy genes, which are dominant. Go figure! But about once a year I get a serious bug up my butt and clean the place like a madwoman. I mean, I wouldn't go opening the cabinets if I were you, because come on. There's, like, roach legs and shit in there, and nobody's going to clean that up. But the floors are swept and mopped, the plumbing and the furniture are shining, the appliances are free of spatters, the upholstery on the sofa is scrubbed, and the whole house gives off an aroma remarkably unreminiscent of cat pee. You should be impressed! God knows I am.

What gets you in a cleaning frame of mind? There's always the panicked sensation that company's coming and, if they see how you normally live, not only will they not like you any more, but the health department might have to get involved. But that's involuntary cleaning, and yields mediocre results at best. What is it, then, if there is such a thing, that makes you really want to clean, so that you cheerfully scrub the finger smudges off from the kitchen cabinet doors, or wipe congealed chicken juice out of the bottom of the refrigerator, or actually notice such normally unquestioned clutter as - just an example here - an eyeliner pencil and a combination lock, squirreled away behind the coffeemaker?

Me, I have to have the place to myself. It becomes, only once a year or so, all my own and only mine; so I plug my iPod into the stereo, and invite friends over (who apparently know better and don't come), and, for a brief moment in time, I channel my mother-in-law: I'm just hangin', just dancing around the house listening to my music, and somehow there are a broom and dustpan and mop and brush and sponge and cloth and a bottle of spray cleaner in my hands, and things get put away, and everything gets unbelievably clean. It's a miracle!

I'm sure there's some perfectly reasonable scientific explanation. And I bet if a team of scientists studied the phenomenon, they'd be able to produce a pharmaceutical that would replicate the effect and turn me, and you, and anyone else into a domestic goddess like my mother-in-law. Would you take it? I know it's a bit Stepford-esque. But think how shiny your kitchen faucet would be.

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At November 29, 2008 12:49 AM, Blogger Tommy Korioth said...

Does it mean I'll always live alone if I have a drawer just for roach legs? I love that you included a label for roach legs. You may be the only one. Happy Thanksgiving.

At November 29, 2008 10:43 AM, Blogger Beth said...

How do you manage to have a dedicated drawer just for roach legs? It seems like it'd be difficult to keep double-A batteries, and cough drops, and pencils, and unidentified keys from migrating in there.

Also, how full is it? If it's very full, and I stumble across it while looking for the silverware drawer, I would probably consider not moving in with you.


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