Monday, August 2, 2010

This House is Clean

Yeah, she took a picture of the bucket . . .
Managed to get to both adult swims on Saturday and Sunday and feeling rather smug about it. I try to avoid the west end pool on weekends as there are a group of middle-aged walkers that insist on singing Jimmy Buffet songs and stuff from the Eagles and God forbid, the Bee Gees, falsettos and all. Sometimes is it embarrassing to be a baby boomer. Well, actually, most of the time. I think my waistline is a little tighter although I have always had a belly. And I always will have a belly as I have too much appreciation for pasta and late night whiskey.

Yes, the house is clean. With Cowboy Dave in Kansas City it seemed like the opportune time to throw a little bleach and Windex around. Now I have not cleaned anything here since Mom left us and that's not a big deal because I am not a big deal cleaner. I do not encourage people to visit me (yes, another Giegerich recluse) and this is one of the benefits of that action. As a young person I was tied into Mom's insane housework rituals and I balked from the time the Housework Nazi first put that dust cloth in my hand. On Fridays I dusted the upststairs bedrooms and swept the dust balls from under my brothers' beds and scrubbed with the blue Chlorox powder the bathroom sink and tub. On Saturday mornings I was responsible for the double living rooms and this meant dusting, vacuuming the area rugs and mopping the hardwood floor around the perimeter. While my younger siblings lazed through Huckleberry Hound and Mighty Mouse cartoons I slowly made my way through the two rooms and I mean slowly. I would leaf through my Dad's Argyle magazines and read the articles in the TV Guide. Occasionally, my mother would glare at me from the kitchen where she was permanently ensconced but I would just continue my unhurried pace. It would sometimes take two hours. Oh, Mom and I had two completely different perspectives on house work. Now don't get me wrong I have as strong a work ethic as do my mother and her sisters and I have passed it on to my own children but re stacking magazines that would be unstacked within minutes and picking up my teen-aged brothers' underwear were unnecessary tasks, a waste of time. Most of my childhood was spent in fantasy. I was Maid Marion to Robin Hood or Little Joe Cartwright's girlfriend or Baba Louey to Quick Draw McGraw in my youngest days so it did not bother me to lounge around the rooms dreaming my own dreams and moving the dust around. Occasionally, Mom would announce at the end of the travail that "it's not clean enough." She would never indicate just what wasn't clean enough and I never asked so I would begin the dance again. Sometimes my friends would help me so we could get outside sooner.

There were dishes to be washed and tables to be set, cookies to be baked and jell-o to be, well, gelled. I can never remember the other kids doing chores. I suppose they did. I know the set-up in this chauvinistic 60's household was girls do the inside chores, boys do the outside stuff. Hello, we're living in the middle of the city and not out on the farm. I still ended up raking leaves and shoveling snow.

As a newly married lady I matched my mother chore by chore and had each day scheduled for one particular job. Monday was laundry day just like all the embroidered towels would say and my sister-in-law Sheri would laugh at the piles and piles of sheets, towels, and toddler clothing that took over my basement by Sunday night.

I can remember during this time my mother calling me up and asking me to take her to the health store so I packed up all the kids. And when I got there she said, "You know what I did while I was waiting for you? (Hint: you took too long.) You know how dirty it gets around the bathroom sink (I didn't.) Well, I cleaned all that." I think I commented something about did she boil all the light bulbs, too? Mom was right, I was "snippy."

As a divorcee and working full-time and living in rented apartments my housework schedule suffered. I couldn't afford a vacuum cleaner or preferred not to use my hard-earned money to purchase one. I became lax in this department and apathy set in.

Years later when my mother was in her 60's I said to her that I needed to get going as I had cleaning to do. She looked at me and said, why would you want to do that? I was shocked and no reply came to my lips. "You know, " she said, "I've learned as I got older that there are more important things in life than my house." Impressive.

But I can hear things growing in Dave's bathroom late at night two floors above. When I thought about remarrying a second time I had to ask myself some soul-searching questions. Could I do this again? I didn't have much fun the first time around. I went to my good friend Susan. We had both been long-time divorcees, worked the same job, partied at the same bars and for the most part, thought alike in all the important arenas in life. Translation: we were both terrified of marriage. But Susan had caved just a few months before. She had met a gentle, intelligent fellow whose worse fault was a penchant for telling really bad puns. But he had an enormous feminine side, enormous. You could actually take him to chick flicks and he enjoyed them. Susan had fallen in love with this guy after a disastrous break-up from a very long-term relationship. Well," she pondered when I asked her this all-important question. "As long as you have your own bathrooms you should be all right."

So, we did have our own bathrooms, and she was right. But whereas I would clean my bathroom, Cowboy Dave did not. I would hold out as long as possible thinking every person should wipe up their own toothpaste goop. But then he leaves and I sit upstairs thinking, thinking and somehow I find myself in that little room with a bucket of bleach trying not to look too closely at anything,

I had a friend whose father owned several commercial buildings in town and the family would save money by doing the cleaning themselves at night when the office people went home. Ivy would clean public restrooms and she would never tell me exactly what horrors she encountered but she would always sum it up by saying, "men are pigs." And they are.

Even though I have given Cowboy Dave a few curt warning on dirtying my house I can hear him downstairs clipping his toe nails on the couch and they are going to be everywhere.